Wednesday, May 30, 2018

ARC Review: City of Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

City of Bastards
Author: Andrew Shvarts
Series: Royal Bastards (Book 2)
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (June 5, 2018)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: Tilla and her companions Zell, Lyrianna, and Ellarion have made it to the relative safety of Lightspire after fleeing Tilla's rebellious father Lord Elric Kent. However, they suffered losses along the way. Tilla lost her beloved brother Jax and childhood friend Miles decided to throw in his lot with the rebels. She is a ward of the king and should feel safe and happy. That just isn't the case, though.

Tilla is somewhat cushioned by being a favorite of the king who feels he owes her for protecting his daughter Lyriana, she nonetheless feels that most people only see her as the daughter of the traitor who is trying to overthrow the king. The king's Chief Inquisitor is especially certain that she is a spy working for her father.

Lyriana is having problems too. She is drinking too much to try to mask her grief at Jax's death because she had fallen in love with him. She is also dealing with the loss of her magic. A punishment for using it has cost her her place in an order of magic users and her trial saved her life but a consequence made her promise not to use magic again.

Tilla's relationship with Zell is also changing. While Tilla was given a place at the University, Zell was sent to the City Guard. They find it hard to see each other as often as they would like because of Zell's work. When Tilla's roommate, the daughter on one of the powerful Southern barons, is found dead in their room, the Chief Inquisitor wants to write it off as suicide but Tilla is certain that she was murdered. Despite the danger it puts her in, she is determined to find out the truth.

As Tilla investigates, she finds that the city has its own rebellion growing as the cultists are determined to overthrow Lyriana's family and go back to the original tenets of their faith. They feel that the Volaris are abusing the magic that they were supposed to guard and took for themselves. Their leader is the Grey Priestess. Tilla has some encounters with her. She also has some encounters that seem to show that the magic that should be confined to people in Lightspire is also showing up in the rebels.

The more Tilla and her friends investigate, the more they find conspiracies and secrets and enemies. This is an exciting entry into a series that sees Tilla go from a young woman who wants to find safety, comfort and happiness to a young woman who is pulled into a fight she becomes determined to win.

I enjoyed this story. The magical system was interesting. The characters were well-developed. The story was filled with action and was emotionally intense.

Favorite Quote:
"You're evil, you know that?" I said, sounding more scared than I wanted to. "A monster."

"Perhaps," he replied, almost amused. "The funny thing about power is that the more you get, the harder you have to work to keep it. Th King and the Queen give their speeches and hold their parties. The priests prattle on, the soldiers march, and the nobles play their silly games. And yer for all of that I'm still the man who holds this Kingdom together, who keeps the cultists in the shadows and the rebels outside the walls. I'm the knife in the dark, Tillandra, the last step against chaos. Monster or not, this city needs me." He strode into the building, his gray robes billowing behind him like a hungry shadow. "Show up at the memorial tomorrow. Keep your mouth shut. And you just might live to call me a piece of shit another day."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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