Review: City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2) by Andrew Shvarts
City of Bastards is the second book in the Royal Bastards series by Andrew Shvarts and I just loved the first book, so I knew I had to read book 2. Of course I am reading way later than I expected, but I had some family/life issues pop up on me and then next thing I know, 2 months have gone by in a flash! Thank you so much to Disney-Hyperion for the review copy, which in no way influences my thoughts below.
Category: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication: June 5th, 2018; Disney-Hyperion
Tilla, bastard of House Kent, has it made. Safe from her murderous father in the dazzling capital of Lightspire, she lives a life of luxury under the protection of the Volaris King, alongside her boyfriend Zell and best friend, Princess Lyriana.
So why isn’t she happy? Maybe it’s the whispers and stares that follow her wherever she goes, as the daughter of the traitor waging war against Lightspire. Or maybe it’s the memories of her beloved brother, Jax, who lies cold in his grave even as she tries to settle into a life in the city’s prestigious University.
Then, Tilla stumbles upon the body of a classmate, a friend. The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide and sweep it under the rug, but when Tilla herself is attacked by a mysterious man with terrifying powers, she’s convinced of a conspiracy. Her friends beg her to stay silent; what she’s suggesting is impossible… and treasonous.
But Tilla can’t, won’t, let it go. And the deeper she digs, the more questions she uncovers. How is the West beating the supposedly invincible Lightspire Mages in battle? Is it connected to the shadowy cult wreaking havoc in Lightspire? Nothing is as it seems in the glorious capital, and Tilla’s presence might just be the spark that sets the Kingdom aflame.
City of Bastards was a great follow up to Royal Bastards. The story was intriguing, with wonderful imagery and world building, and full of conflict. The sequel picks up as Tilla and company are finding their places in Lightspire, the regent city. Tilla may feel out of place, but at least she is being protected by the will of the King. However, many still believe she is a spy for her father’s uprising, especially so when she discovers her good friend dead. Tilla suspects foul play and starts to dig deeper into the localized rebellion happening within the city.
Tilla is a complex and strong character. She knows herself, even when she has doubts or when others do. She struggles with the loss of her former life, her brother, and technically her entire family. Her father tried to murder her once, and she knows no matter how much she questions his motives, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her for the trouble she has caused him. Zell was also struggling with his place. He is so far removed from his world, that he seems to just be filling time and going through the motions, except when he is with Tilla. When Zell and Tilla are together it feels like their love could conquer all.
This story is really about war, politics, and power. But at what cost and to whom? Do you have the morality to fight back? Would you stand up against an oppressive regime? And ultimately, how do you know who is right and who is wrong? Tilla struggles with all of this as the world unfurls around her. She learns so much about the Titans and the Mages, but it is herself that she truly discovers.
I can’t say that I am surprised at the ending, something big was going to go down. But while I was reading, I definitely thought something else entirely was happening. I loved (and hated) how it ended, it was so full of suspense and shock! It also leaves hope for the future…aka next book! Now the waiting begins.
This series definitely gives a strong nod to Game of Thrones, just YA style! It’s also an easy read, and I really love how the verbiage is modern, which also makes it easily digestible. The writing is so enrapturing, you can just get lost in the world. If you are a fan of YA fantasy full of action, brutality, love and ultimately the struggle of knowing yourself, I think you will love this series!