Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

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Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: James Donald
Reviewed by James Donald
Summary: An excellent, exciting and well-paced adventure novel. Very enjoyable with great characters and a cracking pace.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2017
Publisher: Hyperion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1484767658

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A group of teens witness something that they shouldn't and find themselves hunted by half the kingdom. Royal plots, magic, adventure and a rich culture to immerse yourself in. Can the pack of bastards make it to safety before the vicious warriors chasing them catch them?

I recently read You Die When You Die by Angus Watson and in my review, I suggested that it felt like the language and gratuitous violence was a little forced, much as it felt in Spider-Man: Homecoming. I will go even further and say that after reading this Young Adult fantasy novel that Angus Watson's book was, in fact, a YA book with the odd C-word and sexual scene brutally shoe-horned into it. If Royal Bastards is a YA book then it makes me re-evaluate the whole genre. Without the need for any swearing beyond the word 'shit' or overt descriptions of sex etc this produces a violent and exciting adventure. I'm entering this review to Bookbag twice - popping it into adult fantasy and YA.

The very easy and brutal shorthand description of this would be 'Game of Thrones for teens'. This isn't completely inaccurate but it simultaneously insults and over compliments the book. This isn't Game of Thrones because as a YA book it sticks to a fairly straightforward narrative, it doesn't delve too deeply into the human condition and so on. It is an insulting comparison because whilst there are huge parallels in broad brushstrokes this very much treads its own path and creates a rich and diverse universe for the tale to be set in.

I really loved Shvarts' characters. They were slightly less real than those Watson created but we don't read fiction primarily for realism; we want escapism. Royal Bastards creates characters that are real enough to avoid jarring us but enough of a fantasy to make them interesting and engaging. I really loved meeting these guys and enjoyed spending time with them.

The story is fantastic. There are twists and turns, characters are developed, and we have a clear McGuffin. Whilst it is clear from around the third chapter that this is going to be part of a series we do get a good complete tale. Shvarts gives us a relatively linear plot that introduces fresh peril at just the right (and somewhat expected) moments yet does this well. On top of this he brings in some interesting moral questions for our protagonists and these are deliberately left hanging for the next book to tease out.

The book is narrated by the female protagonist, Tilla. Females are generally handled very well and when Tilla starts to train and learn to fight there is no discussion about if she should be able to do so as a girl.

Parental warning – There is a sex scene but it is not overtly described. There is a mention of frequenting a whore house but this is just played with as an idea and not gone into in any detail. The word Bastard is used throughout and shit is the main swear word. There are some violent scenes but generally, these are not in your face.

A brilliant book and highly recommended for all ages.

Further reading: The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien or Grimpow: The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos.

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Buy Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts at