Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Sixteen-year-old Tilla lives a half-life. Half of her time is with her half-brother Jax, while the other half is spent desperately trying to please her father, Lord Kent, hoping he’ll make Tilla his legitimate daughter. One day, Lord Kent hosts a feast honoring the visiting Princess Lyriana. Lyriana surprises everyone by sitting with Tilla, Miles (another bastard), and Zell, a Zitochi warrior. That evening, Tilla and Jax lead Lyriana, Miles, and Zell to a special lookout on the beach. Their gallivanting turns deadly when Tilla, Miles, and Zell’s parents kill Lyriana’s uncle with a magical bomb. This murder starts the uprising against Lyriana’s reign. With warrants on their heads, Tilla, Jax, Zell, Miles, and Lyriana secretly travel to the closest providence loyal to Lyriana. Unfortunately, their group is ambushed by Zitochi warriors, Jax is killed, and Miles joins Lord Kent’s forces against Tilla, Zell, and Lyriana. Tilla sets off another magical bomb scattering her father’s forces and saving Lyriana and Zell.
Royal Bastards has seeds of greatness with unique world-building and gripping suspense. But those seeds are choked out by some incredibly juvenile writing decisions. These decisions include using an uneducated, contemporary voice for Tilla’s narration. This type of voice drastically hinders the story’s pacing because the author overuses foul language in the book. From an editor’s perspective, if ninety-percent of the swearing was cut, Royal Bastards would have a smoother storyline. Another juvenile decision on Shvarts’ part was making Tilla a formidable warrior after one month’s training on the run. These and other elements to Tilla’s character and Shvarts story make the book seem more like it was written by a gifted teen with no editor than a seasoned author with a degree in English Literature.
*Contains severe violence and sexual content