“Royal Bastards” by Andrew Shvarts is the first book in a series about a kingdom made up of conquered kingdoms and the rebellion that irrevocably changes the lives of the main characters, the royal bastards.
Tilla is the main character, and she is the bastard daughter of Lord Kent of the Western Province. As the reader learns, her ancestors were the rulers of the West before the ancestors of King Leopold Volaris of Lightspire got together with his mages (magicians) and conquered the neighboring kingdoms. So now, those who once ruled bow to the ruler of Lightspire. And Tilla has no idea that some are unhappy with that idea.
When the royal daughter, Lyriana, visits, on a whim she decides to sit at the table in back where the royal bastards, Tilla and a few of the others, sit. They plan a secret excursion later to show the princess the ocean, and a visitor who is a Zitochi warrior from the north comes, as does Tilla’s half brother, Jax.
When they take a secret passage to the ocean, they see Lyriana’s uncle killed by their parents. They also hear that Lyriana was to be killed as well. They all escape and are determined to take her to safety.
The story seems to start slowly, but it quickly picks up steam and becomes engrossing. The characters are well drawn, and the action moves quickly and with plenty of twists and turns. People are not always as they appear to be, and some of them change significantly before the end of this part of the story.
There is plenty of violence, plenty of love, and plenty of action in this story to please almost every reader. While some of it is fantasy, it’s also certainly a good versus evil tale. But in this story, those who are the “good” guys are not on one side of the war. They want there to be no war, no fighting, no dying. The moral that seems to emerge so far is that war is horrible and senseless bloodshed no matter what the reason for the conflict. Is it necessary? In this day and age, that is a most relevant theme. Then again, it always has been, hasn’t it.
Highly recommended for kids from 14 and older. Adults will enjoy this as well.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.