Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
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 is the second installment in author Andrew Shvarts' Royals Bastards trilogy. In this action-packed sequel to Royal Bastards, Tillandra, the illegitimate daughter of Lord Kent of the Western Province, has arrived in the city of Lightspire along with her love, Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, Princess Lyrianna, daughter of the King who rules over the lands, and her cousin Ellarion, the son of the former Archmagus Rolan whose death has kicked off a major rebellion against King Novaris.
Tillandra has always wanted to visit the city, but now that she's here, and attending University, things aren't exactly easy for her. Yes, she does have a fantastic roommate
named Markiska, who is the daughter of a Baron, and yes, she is best friends with Princess Lyrianna, and it appears as though the King and Queen, as well as Lyrianna's younger sister have treated as though she is family. But, in reality, people just can't help themselves from linking Tilla to her father.
Tilla is still haunted by the lost of her brother Jax, and the betrayal of her former best friend, Miles Hampstedt, who is now a General in Lord Kent's army. Jax loss means so much more to Tilla because the duo often dreamed of what living in the city would be like, and now that Tilla is here, she's without him. As Tilla begins to explore the magnificent royal city of Lightspire, a shocking murder occurs that puts things into perspective. Especially since Tilla is the daughter of a man who is leading a rebellion against the King.
After she uncovers a sinister conspiracy to take down the kingdom from within, it appears as though nobody will take her seriously. Not Zell. No Lyrianna. Not Ellarion. Especially not Inquisitor Harkness who truly believes that Tilla is a spy working for Kent. Until things really begin to pile up and things look bleak. There's some interesting dynamics between the four main characters. They've gravitated towards each other whether by circumstances, or because they haven't allowed their stations to interfere with their friendships. Tilla has the most angst because of Jax, and her father which I already hit on.
Zell, who becomes a CIty Watchman, is keeping secrets from Tilla which causes issues of trust. Lyrianna is a party girl, who likes to have sexual trysts, and is also keeping secrets which could lead to her death. Meanwhile, Ellarion, who is training to become the next Archmagus, may be the most powerful character in this book. But, even his world is shattered when a whole host of surprises is stacked up in front of his otherwise unbelieving eyes and he is forced to put what he has been taught aside to help keep Tilla and Lyrianna alive.
My favorite part of this story has to be the world building and how the murder mystery is handled. The details of the city of Lightspire, the use of shimmersteal, the underground city where part of the story takes place, the tombs of the Titans where our characters unexpectedly find themselves, as well as the various carnivals & parties that seem to happen almost every night. There's some fantastic banter, and hilarious moments in this book, but they are there to remind readers that things aren't as pretty as they appear on the outside.
I will close this review by saying that the second part of this book is the most action packed and the most stunning. The first part is about Tilla's development or lack thereof, and her situation which would be envious of most people who were given the chance to live in a lap of luxury. Oh, did I mention the mystery? The mystery in this story really done pretty well. Readers won't know the answer to their questions until deep into the book, and then the dam will break, and hell will reign down on all of them, and then you will have to suffer, ah, I mean wade through a cliffhanger ending that will leave you impressed by how much the author piles on to his characters.