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Royal Bastards #2

City of Bastards

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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.

377 pages, Hardcover

First published June 5, 2018

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Andrew Shvarts

5 books283 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 223 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,440 reviews78.1k followers
June 28, 2018
You know what I love most about this series? It makes me feel like a kid again. I don't mean it in the sense that this is cheap YA fiction that only caters to the younger crowd, but that I feel like I can let loose and bring myself back to the mindset of being a teenager while I'm in Shvarts's stories. Tilla and her gang have been forced to work through some pretty tough thematic elements in both novels to date, and I think the author does a beautiful job of balancing the loss of innocence and naivety without making the story overtly graphic and taking away it's age appropriate nature. These romps with the bastard children are simply a pleasure to journey alongside, and I highly recommend you pick up the first novel and jump into this series; it hasn't received enough recognition and praise IMO. I'm pleased to know we get at least one more adventure with these kids and can't wait to see where the author takes us!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
675 reviews1,501 followers
August 9, 2018


*Rubs hands together* OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOHHH. This is going to be goOoOoOoOoOoOd.
Profile Image for Beth.
704 reviews572 followers
August 6, 2018
When it gets to 92% of the way through and it FINALLY gets good...
In the words of Jojo...

It's just too little, too late
A little too long
And I can't wait
But you know all the right things to say (but not really)

Kind of let down...
- where was the character development?
- I've literally forgotten the majority of what happened because it just isn't that memorable.

I'm not even gunna lie with a "full rtc" because it ain't gunna happen :) :) :)
Profile Image for Divine.
333 reviews167 followers
June 13, 2018
"I'd tried to be the girl who would choose safety, the girl who would keep walking, the girl who would settle, the girl who would be happy.

But that wasn’t me. That would never be me. I was Tilla of the tunnels, Tilla the traitor, Tilla the exile, Tilla the bastard. I was the girl who chose rebellion, the girl who loved a Zitochi warrior, the girl who risked it all to avenge her friend.

I was reckless, and I was foolish, and I’d probably never be safe. But I was me."


I am in love with this series.

This second installment fleshed out the inner workings of Lightspire and where all the magic sht comes from. This book answered a lot of my questions from the previous one and *inward sobs* I'm just so happy that there are no catastrophic deaths for my fave characters.

I'm a sucker for effective world building and this book had managed to elicit guttural screams of approval from me. I'm an architecture major and I dang well pride myself for dissecting the details of the world building. AND OHOHOHOLERD WHAT A TREAT. I love how Lightspire is a concentric work of architecture and how the palace is made of "shimmersteel". This reminds me of the shimmer in Annihilation and everything was on point.(I've watched it on Netflix, haven't read the book tho). I would love to have a more detailed outline of the whole castle again on the third installment because I just can't get enough of it. *blushes*

There's also a ton of descriptive gory and brutal fight scenes. This is what I initially loved with The Royal Bastards and there are indeed more in this one. The pacing is also one thing that I commend this for. The first part mostly dealt with establishing the image of politics and the luxurious lifestyle in Lightspire. A lot of new characters were introduced and all of them were thought out very well by the author. They're not just there for the spectacle, they had helped in shaping the story more effectively. It wasn't boring at all, it was a beautiful sequence of thrill and mystery. By the time you'd finish the first half, everything just slides down perfectly.

The fast-paced action and sequence of events by the latter half had really elevated this one and I love that there was a neat resolution by the end. This book conveys a lot of values and important issues politically and I find myself wondering about the inner political drama happening in my country as well.
"That’s what I’m trying to say. What if all the sides are wrong? What if the whole idea of sides is the problem?”

This is very easy to read and it's all thanks to Shvarts fluent prose. I'M A FULL PLEDGED FAN NOW OKAAY?? Definitely one of my fave books this year!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,032 reviews2,604 followers
June 10, 2018
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/06/09/...

Have you ever finished a book and thought to yourself, “Wow…I didn’t expect THAT?” City of Bastards made me feel like this for two reasons. First, there was the ending, because damn, I just couldn’t believe the author actually went there. And second, I didn’t think I was going to like this one as much as the first book, given how certain events at the end of Royal Bastards have led to a different cast makeup and a slight change in direction for the series. Clearly I was wrong, because ultimately I ended up liking this sequel every bit as much as its predecessor—maybe even more so.

This probably goes without saying, but you may want to skip reviews of this book if you aren’t caught up with the series yet. Spoilers for the first book are possible, and even likely, because City of Bastards picks up almost immediately from the point where Royal Bastards left off. Tilla, the illegitimate daughter of Lord Kent, has finally made it to the city of Lightspire with her companions, saving Princess Lyriana Volaris from assassination by bringing her home. But now, the king is left with a conundrum. While Tilla and Zell may have rescued his daughter, as the offspring of his greatest enemies—who are even now leading a growing rebellion in the west to try and topple his rule—they cannot be trusted to leave or to roam free. Thus, a plan is made for Tilla to enroll in the University, where she will be given shelter, safety, and a chance to learn about the history of Lightspire and the Volaris reign. Zell, on the other hand, will join the City Watch, putting his fighting skills to good use.

None of them could have hoped for a better arrangement. Finally, Tilla has everything she’s ever dreamed of: a life of luxury, the friendship of a princess, and a gorgeous boyfriend who loves her. But instead of being happy, Tilla is haunted by the past—all the deaths, betrayals, and, of course, her traitorous father, whose shadow is constantly hanging over her head. She’s treated as an outsider with few friends at the University, and then one day, one of those friends ends up dead. Although the authorities are quick to rule the death a suicide, Tilla doesn’t believe it. In the days leading up to the tragedy, she has been noticing a mysterious shrouded figure stalking her in the streets, and everything comes to a head as Tilla herself is targeted by an attacker whose existence shouldn’t be possible. Now even her closest friends have doubts that what she saw was real, and yet, Tilla still can’t bring herself to let her investigations go. The more she digs, the more she’s convinced she’s getting to the bottom of a greater conspiracy.

City of Bastards was such a fun ride, but as I alluded to earlier, I didn’t think this would be the case when I first started. Part of the reason for this is the beginning of the book, which was a far cry from the energy and excitement that filled the pages of Royal Bastards. The first book threw readers into an action-filled adventure almost as soon as it began, while in contrast, this sequel opened with a sense of hopelessness and melancholy as our characters grieved for those they’ve lost along the way. The story then shifts to a university setting, but instead of being shown the new things Tilla learns in her classes, we get to read about the way she and her friends are languishing their days away at posh parties, hooking up and getting wasted. I get it—losing Jax and Miles hit them all hard, but surely they could have found a more original and less irritating outlet for their anguish, especially since as a reader, I was champing at the bit to see more of the city.

Things also didn’t feel quite the same, with the main group missing two of its original five members. The void could be felt almost right away, with the lack of lively banter and interactions I’d come to love when Tilla, Lyriana, Jax, Miles, and Zell were all still together. A couple new characters were introduced, but I wasn’t sure if they would make suitable replacements, if the author had intended them to fill the shoes of the departed.

Around the quarter mark though, everything changed. Once I reached this point, it didn’t matter how quickly I was reading, it simply didn’t feel fast enough. I wanted badly to find out what was going on, yet the plot just kept teasing me with bigger and crazier twists and turns. The story continued to build until it reached its climax, and the aforementioned ending which left me reeling. In fact, a part of me is still in shock that the series has taken such a drastic turn. That’s the thing about these books—it’s easy to be fooled by the humor and slangy, contemporary language into thinking you’re in for a light and fluffy YA fantasy, then out of the blue the author will sucker-punch you in the gut with a sudden violent and traumatic event. After all, it’s easy to let your guard down when you’re having this much fun, but I just have to keep reminding myself that the world of these books can get downright nasty and brutal.

All in all, I’m quite impressed with the way this series is turning out. Even though City of Bastards had a drawn-out beginning and was slower to take off, the time it took to lay down the groundwork ultimately proved worthwhile, and somewhere along the way, the newer characters also started growing on me. Things have certainly changed a lot since Royal Bastards, and while I was initially skeptical, I feel now that this sequel has surpassed the first one in many ways. I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next.
Profile Image for Princess.
420 reviews77 followers
June 16, 2019
Lots of twists and turns!!! Markiska! That ending was wild! I can’t wait to dive into the last book. Miles creeps me out
Profile Image for Jenny.
920 reviews181 followers
August 26, 2018
I really enjoyed this sequel, even more than the first, and I really loved the first! This is such an interesting world, it moves at such a great pace, and the characters are awesome as well. It feels a little more "grown up" than YA, but still has everything I like about YA.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,145 reviews1,010 followers
May 31, 2018
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Gosh, I love how funny this series is! Tilla made me chuckle while reading, just as much as she did in Royal Bastards . And while this one didn't *quite* match the intensity of book one, it was still a solid sequel that leaves me excited for the third book!

What I Liked:

Banter and humor on point. Oh, I love this in any book, but it's especially fun in this series. The author does a great job of mixing the humor with the more serious moments, and I quite enjoy it. It's a tough balance to get right, but he's managed in both books.

The characters are so relatable. I loved that they all had their own blindspots and flaws, as well as their own strengths. They're so well fleshed out that it's quite easy to see why they make such a good team. And there are definitely a lot of morally grey decisions that the characters make, and I am always on board with those.

Some of the romantic stuff seemed deliciously juicy. And I mean this in a very good way- it's the good kind of drama. I'll say no more for the sake of spoilers, but I actually kind of liken the series in general to a royal Jane the Virgin sometimes, in that sure it can be a little zany, but there's a lot of heart to this series.

There are some wonderfully lovely friendships that develop during the course of the book. Some have progressed from where they started, some were new, but I loved that there was a focus on friendships. Sure, romance is a part of the book, but not the biggest part.

The plot had some very good twists. Some things I did not see coming and was quite shocked at, yay! And, they set up the final book very well.

What I Didn't:

There were a few slow points where I did kind of want things to move along a bit. Not terribly so, but enough that it merits mentioning.

Since the characters were more or less in one general area, I felt like there were fewer questions answered in terms of world-building, and I'd found the world so fascinating in book one that I'd love more answers!

Bottom Line: Overall a very solid sequel with intensely likable- and realistic- characters. Humor mixes with high stakes in the best way possible to leave the reader excited for more!
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,003 reviews782 followers
Want to read
September 14, 2017
Okay, so I went into and left Royal Bastards thinking it was a standalone novel. Now low and behold I find out this is going to be a series. Which makes some of my initial issues with how Royal Bastards concluded rather invalid, so perhaps I shall give this a chance to see if this series has more redeeming qualities...
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
November 18, 2018
Another book that I've been dying to dive into!

I absolutely loved the first book of this series so when I was walking around Barnes and Noble, still have no idea how I got there #mysterious, I saw it. I had little heart eyes. I bought it.. and some other beautiful book babies. Ya know how it's bad to go to the grocery store and shop while starving? Well, that's me.. EVERY TIME I go to Barnes and Noble. Don't let me go in there without supervision. Ever.

City of Bastards was so freaking good. I couldn't put it down.. once I actually got some god damn time to read it. Work is slowly taking over my life and I don't know how I feel about it. Plus, a girl has to sleep at some point, right?

The one thing I didn't like.. was how different the characters were in this book. Look, I totally get that people change.. but seriously? THAT QUICKLY? I didn't like that and wanted them back to their old ways stat. Speaking of these not so lovable characters (this time around), I hated Tilla. She was just so frustrating to read about. It broke my heart. Then there's Lyriana, and I'm just wondering what the hell happened to this girl. Who hurt you? I will kill them.

Again, I don't know why these characters changed so freaking drastically. They all took a complete 180 and became characters that annoyed, frustrated, and eventually ended up hating. I didn't like that part of the book and I really wanted my old babies back.

Overall, I liked it but was definitely disappointed by a lot of things. Once wine was involved, it became better.
Profile Image for Brooke.
213 reviews24 followers
October 20, 2019
*Spoilers if you haven’t read the first book.*

“I was reckless, and I was foolish. But I was me.”

Tilla, bastard of House Kent, is safe from her traitorous father in the city of Lightspire, where she lives alongside her boyfriend Zell and her best friend, Princess Lyriana. But when someone close to Tilla is found dead from an apparent suicide, Tilla knows it’s murder. As she digs deeper for answers, conspiracies are unearthed and everyone she loves could be in danger.

This second installment of the Royal Bastard trilogy was, unfortunately, not quite as good as the first book. The characters that I grew to love from the first book were very different, and not for the better. My favorite thing about book one was the characters’ relationship with one another, so it was a letdown that they didn’t seem well connected in this book.

One of my favorite characters was Lyriana, but in this book she didn’t really rise to her character’s full potential, and at times it felt as if she was a minor side character. And Tilla’s whiney disposition made her a bit insufferable. I thought that maybe I’d get on board with Tilla and Zell in this book, but I still don’t like them together; the chemistry between them is very lacking.

City of Bastards progressed very slowly. And while it DID pick up, it picked up very fast in the last few chapters, and what should have been more spread out felt too rushed at the end. Despite all that, there were many aspects I enjoyed. While the last few chapters was too much too fast, it offered a lot of interesting and eye opening information, as well as twists/situations I didn’t see coming.

While I felt a little cheated with the character growth for my favorite characters, there were new characters that were introduced as well as side characters who received more light in the story. I can’t wait to see how the last book brings all this together and how it will end!
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,336 reviews1,017 followers
August 30, 2018
Note: City of Bastards is the second book in Andrew Shvarts' Royal Bastards series so please be aware that this review will contain spoilers for the first book. If you'd rather find out how the story begins you can read my review of Royal Bastards here.

So now we've got that cleared up let's talk about this story. Tilla, Zell and Lyriana have finally made it safely to the city of Lightspire and Lyriana has been returned to her family. While the king is grateful that his daughter has come home and is grateful for the help that Tilla and Zell gave her he's in a very difficult position because both of their fathers are still in open rebellion and trying to overthrow him. He can't really allow Tilla and Zell free roam of the city and he's not completely sure they can be trusted so he offers Tilla a place at a prestigious university to study alongside his daughter and Zell is asked to join the City Guard and help train the others on his fighting techniques.

This story has a very different feel to its predecessor, rather than the non-stop action of their journey this book is about trying to find a place in a new life. Tella is completely out of her element and trying to learn a whole new set of rules to live by. Where life in her father's castle was very relaxed and she could spend her time as she pleased here she must follow the rules and try not to upset the balance. We're introduced to new characters and have time to explore a completely new setting in Lightspire which I really enjoyed. While this book has a more sedate pace during the first half there is still plenty of action later on, Tella quickly realises that everything within the city is not what it seems and she's left trying to figure out who can be trusted and who is lying to her.

I have to admit that while I liked the new characters that are introduced I still missed Jax and I was a little disappointed that Zell wasn't around as much but I was soon swept up into the story and found myself eagerly reading waiting to see what would happen next. Some of the twists in the second half were great and things have definitely been set up for an explosive finale in the next book. This series has been a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together!
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,402 followers
May 22, 2018
I enjoy this series so damn much. I know it's not for everyone, as the blend of contemporary voice and fantasy setting can definitely be called jarring, but I love that it doesn't sound like every other fantasy. And in this one, whooooooosh do the stakes go up. I honestly have no idea where it can even really go from here but I do know it's gonna be one of the few fantasy series I actually finish. (I have literally only ever finished one trilogy. I don't know what's wrong with me.)
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books485 followers
Want to read
October 7, 2017
*tackles the pretty purple cover*


THERE'S A PURPLE TREND AMONG YA COVERS AND I LOVE IT bc ace rep color and, coincidentally, my favorite color, too.

And can I give an expectant round of applause to that synopsis??? I WANT THIS BOOK NOW PLEASE
Profile Image for AziaMinor.
435 reviews54 followers
May 29, 2021
Overall Rating : C-

"Who's more powerful than the most powerful man?

The man who pays him."


Oh boy I wanted so bad for this to be better than the second book and here I am, a fool for trying.

Tillandra Kent was so conceited, so selfish, and so righteous that it ruined anyway for me to enjoy the plot or other characters. And what's worse is that she doesn't think she's any of those things.

Best friend spiraling due to losing her first love? That's none of her business and she can do whatever she wants because she's not hurting anybody(like being depressed is only an issue when other people are affected).
Hasn't really spent anytime with her boyfriend. All his fault and she's just too busy with more important things for her to make the first move(Zell deserved somebody - anybody - better than Till).
Some random person she barely knew is found in "suspicious" circumstances? That's her whole personality and good luck getting her attention if it doesn't revolve around "her" investigation.

Whatever was good in the first book, she absolutely ruined. Her loyalty was 100% to herself and how to get out alive and that is just not a trait I admire in a Main Character. The plot - as small as it was - was not able to capture my interest just by every small thing Tilla did. And I wish it wasn't so because the first book held such promise.

I will read the third book just to get some closure, but it won't be anytime soon. Is it bad if I was more horrible things for Tilla in War of the Bastards??? Just her though, Zell and Lyriana deserve a happy ending.
Profile Image for Kelly Brigid ♡.
200 reviews283 followers
October 17, 2018
1) Royal Bastards ★★★★★
“I was reckless, and I was foolish, and I’d probably never be safe. But I was me.”

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I expected more from this book. I adored the characters from the first book, and it broke my heart how drastically they changed throughout this sequel. When I was first approved for this ARC, I chose to read the book without having read its predecessor. I’ve never done this for a book before, but the publication date was peeking around the corner, so I made a hasty decision. After reading one chapter, I was absolutely confounded about what was happening to the characters, and didn’t have much initiative to continue reading. Not long after, I decided I should read the first novel, and quickly obtained Royal Bastards. I was mind blown by how incredible it was, and eagerly picked up City of Bastards shortly after finishing it. I regret to say this, but I thought the sequel fell flat. There was such potential for character growths and advancements in the plot that were never touched on. The story does significantly improve during its last half, but the monotonous rhythm of the beginning already dug it into a hole.

It’s disappointing when characters transform for the worst. Tilla, who was always independent, stubborn, and willing to help those in need no matter the cause, consistently made selfish decisions, and failed to recognize when her friends were in pain. She didn’t acknowledge how her actions were being interpreted by Zell and Lyriana, and refused to observe and help them amend their own struggles. As upsetting as Tilla’s change was, it can’t compare to how I felt about Lyriana. I loved how proud Lyriana was of her views and beliefs in the first novel, and was vexed that she chose to completely disregard this part of herself. It isn’t often in a book when a character clearly shows their sense of morality and what they believe is right and wrong in terms of pacifism, drinking, and intimacy. It was a breath of fresh air to see how strongly Lyriana held to her beliefs in the first novel, despite how opposed her friends’ views were. Needless to say, I was upset by how plainly she later condemned these opinions.

Ellarion was a wonderful addition to the story. We’re introduced to Ellarion at the end of Royal Bastards, but I never would’ve imagined how much I would grow to love him. He quickly became my favorite character, and helped fill the void left by Jax’s passing. I admired his eagerness to assist Lyriana and Tella in their schemes, and his sass and spunk never failed to lighten the mood. It wasn’t strenuous to relate to him, and witnessing how torn he was between choosing sides in the conflicts was touching. There were also several other side characters who were unique and although underdeveloped, were nice additions to the story.

The setting of Lightspire was lovely & the characters’ banter was flawless once again. I already enjoyed the world building in Royal Bastards, but Shvarts hit a home run with his alluring descriptions of Lightspire. The idea of shimmersteal and the detailed designs of all the buildings never ceased to impress me. I truly felt transported to this world, and the intensity of the citizens living there, in addition to the festivities and subtle charm of the city, felt palpable. The banter and humor between all the characters was also a huge plus in this novel. I love witty dialogue, and the relationships between all the characters provided some great foundation for hilarious repartee.

An exciting finish that partially makes up for the stale beginning. I don’t mind novels that are slow paced, but the first half of this book was nothing more than Tilla complaining about her new, fortuitous lifestyle. Most of the citizens of Lightspire show fairly restrained resentment towards her since she’s Lord Kent’s daughter, but otherwise, never touch her. Rather than relish in the fact that she’s allowed to not only live in this glorious city, but also attend a prestigious school, she chose to wallow in self pity. There are far greater tragedies that had happened, and it was burdensome to read through her endless whining. Thankfully, her character does gradually improve as the story progresses, and the unforeseen conclusion was absolutely riveting! Also, there was a cliffhanger, but do not fear! Several issues are resolved before this, so the ending is quite satisfactory.

I have mixed feelings about the story, and it’s a shame it couldn’t live up to the first novel. The plot itself, was moderately intriguing, and I’m still excited to see what paths unfold. Overall, it was a decent sequel to a fantastic novel, and I will continue to have hope that the trilogy will end on a high note!

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March 7, 2021
Tilla spent the first book on the run from her own father after witnessing him commit murder and pit himself and the West against the Volaris King. In this book, Tilla is finally safe and secure, at least on the surface. She and her friends are now in the capital of Lightspire, under the protection of Lyriana's father, the King. However kind the King is towards her, she's well aware that others see her as nothing more than the daughter of a traitor. She at least has her relationship with Zell, but there are times when he's closed off and unhappy. Even Lyriana is having trouble adjusting to "normal" life - the formerly dutiful princess now spends an awful lot of time partying, drinking, and hooking up with random young nobles.

When one of Tilla's friends ends up dead, she's one of the only people to suspect that it was murder rather than suicide. As she tries to figure out the truth, she's forced to question who she can trust and how safe her current position really is.

I read the first book in this trilogy so that I could finally read this ARC I picked up ages ago at a conference. The first book had great energy and decent pacing. This book, on the other hand, was tedious and annoying. The suicide/murder that I mentioned in my description took ages to happen. Up to that point, it was mostly parties and Tilla, Zell, and Lyriana pretending that nothing was bothering them when clearly that wasn't the case.

I wasn't a fan of the way Tilla and Zell were paired up in the first book. It was too fast and too much - they were physically attracted to each other, and they'd bonded over their shared danger and Zell teaching Tilla how to fight, but they knew pretty much nothing about each other when it came to living anything like a normal life. Tilla didn't fight for fun, and once they were no longer in constant danger, she kept finding excuses not to spar with Zell. Zell was clearly struggling to adjust to his new life - a completely different culture, with no other Zitochi around - but Tilla's only response was silent embarrassment, annoyance, or horror whenever he did something inappropriate. Other characters called them a cute couple at least twice that I can recall, and it struck me as forced. They didn't seem particularly cute to me - they liked cuddling and having sex, but other than that they barely spent any time together and didn't seem to have any interests in common.

For a while there, I thought Shvarts was actually going to do something with that. Maybe they'd discover that attraction and a period of shared danger was all they had, and that wasn't enough. And then

The murder and conspiracy stuff took way too long to get going and didn't feel particularly exciting until near the end. I enjoyed the final party scene...right up until it turned incredibly bleak. Tilla summoned up a big speech that somehow renewed everyone else's determination and spirits, but the timing was way too soon - I was honestly surprised no one burst into hysterical laughter, considering that it was, I'm guessing, just a couple hours since they all ended up in an overwhelming and demoralizing mess.

I'm one book away from finishing this, and I have no desire to read it. The characters don't interest me, and their reactions don't quite feel natural. I really don't want to see Tilla and Zell cobble together some "our relationship hit a rough patch but will now be stronger than ever" moments. I'm vaguely interested in whatever revelations there might be about the Titans, their origins, and their goals, but not enough to continue on with this.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Profile Image for ℓуηη_σƒ_νєℓαяιѕ.
435 reviews61 followers
June 15, 2019
I really enjoyed Royal Bastards and was excited to pick up this next installment, though at the same time I was apprehensive that it would suffer the typical "middle book syndrome" like so many before it. But you know what?! It didn't! I can happily say that THIS book was even better than the previous! And has earned its place on my favorites list and a 4.5 ⭐ rating

This book picks up right where Royal Bastards left off and immediately sweeps you off your feet in a complete whirlwind of so many plots and intrigue, all laced together but it takes the whole book to unravel it all. It's sooo capably handled that I never knew quite what to expect next, or how everything tied together. I'm just blown away by Shvarts' skill at all this plot weaving!! It totally blew my expectations out of the water like a bag full of magekillers!!

It suffered none of the cluttered plot points, or sludgy development that so many middle books go through. It was never stagnant, it never served as a weak crutch to tide you over till the final installment. This glorious book of bastards stood strongly on its own, the best of the series so far!! How many middle books can claim such praise? I can tell you, very few. This wonderful purple book of beauty fully cemented my love for this series and this author! Just wow =O

As I've already stated, there's no dull moments in this. And you know what's even better than that?! No godforsaken love triangles!! No wishy-washy heroine who's too fluffy-headed to pick who she truly loves. No, instead we get a highly capable, head-strong girl who rebels at the constraints put on her to wrangle her into a particular mold. She has a "no shits" given attitude when it comes to behaving to please the masses. And she'll do anything for her friends. How I love this girl so much!! She has definitely earned her place on my favorite heroines list! <3

And did I mention the snark? This series has so much snark, it's just amazing! It puts me in mind of Hex Hall with its perfect levels of snark. I'm so here for all the sassy one-liners!!

I am sooooooo ready for the next book!!! Like I might hyperventilate until I have it in my hands! Which will hopefully be tomorrow *fingers crossed* Come on Amazon & hurry!!
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,570 reviews259 followers
June 5, 2018
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tilla is now safe from her father in Lightspire and she now lives luxuriously under the protection of the King, with Zell and Lyriana attempting to settle into her life as a student in the city's prestigious university. Unfortunately as the bastard daughter of a traitor, whispers and stares follow her everywhere and the memories of her dead brother plague her every waking moment. Then, she finds the corpse of a new friend. The death is officially ruled a suicide, but when Tilla herself gets attacked by a stranger with terrifying powers, she’s convinced there's a conspiracy behind it all. Her friends suggest she stay quiet, so she won't be labelled a traitor to the throne like her father. Tilla, however, can't let this go and the more she looks into the situation herself, she only finds more unanswerable questions. How is the West seemingly winning against Lightspire Mages? Is it connected the mysterious cult wreaking havoc in the capital? Only one thing is for certain and that's that nothing is as it seems. The longer Tilla and her friends are in the capital, the sooner the war will come to the capital city of Lightspire.

Royal Bastards was one of my favorite YA debut fantasy novels of 2017, so needless to say I was thrilled to be approved for the sequel, City of Bastards, on NetGalley. This sequel is easily one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2018 and luckily it did not disappoint me in the least. This sequel was easily just as great, and possibly even better, than the original story. Honestly, I loved being back with Tilla, Zell, and Lyriana. Like before, the world-building is great and I particularly enjoyed exploring the capital city of Lightspire and seeing how it compares to it compares to Tilla's homeland. My favorite aspect of this story though is easily the cast of characters - all together they make a fantastic team and their friendship is #goals. Plus, the dialog is pretty killer. I'd certainly want these characters on my side when it comes right down to it. Tilla is one of my favorite new characters in YA and she has to be one of the most relatable yet badass characters I've encountered in an epic fantasy world. It's great to see our characters grow as they begin to deal with the brutal fallout of the events of book one, as well as to try to move on with their lives. Finally, I have to mention just how refreshing I find Shvarts' humorous contemporary writing style. It's quite unique for the epic fantasy genre, but he totally manages to make it work for and it's easy to imagine the world coming to life around me.

Overall, City of Bastards (Royal Bastards #2) by Andrew Shvarts is a fantastic follow-up to one of my favorite YA fantasy debut novels of last year, and it's one my favorite reads so far this year. It's quite a refreshingly fun (and sometimes downright brutal), twisty, addicting, funny, and fast-paced and action-packed read with a tight core cast. If you haven't already started this series I can't recommend it enough. I don't know about you, but I'm dying to read the third book in this series.

Thanks again, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Lesa Divine.
971 reviews193 followers
June 11, 2018
I still liked book 1 better maybe because it was very adventurous. But this was just okay.

Tilla in Lightspire with Princess Lyriana as the Kings ward. But the people there believes she's just a traitor to her father her Western ways.
But she's just trying to survive.
Zell her boyfriend is there too trying to be the best boyfriend he can be but Tilla knows something isn't right with him.

Once Tilla roommate is murder things goes down the hill from there. Some mysterious mage following her.

So much deceitfulness. Who can you trust?

Things isn't right. Tilla, Zell, Lyriana and Lyriana's cousin looks to do their own investigation.

Okay story. Looks like a part 3. I'll read it. Never know it maybe better.
Profile Image for Claire.
Author 5 books484 followers
January 8, 2018
Thank you, Netgalley, for an opportunity to read and review this book. My views are entirely my own. 

The much anticipated sequel to Royal Bastards is almost here! I absolutely loved this follow up and fans of Shvarts's  series opener will love this one too. It's got romance! It's got action! It's got intrigue! And it gave me so many damn feels! 

It is pretty evident throughout that  Shvarts is a Star Wars fan, as City of Bastards shares many of the same themes and elements throughout it's thoroughly fun ride. It is hard to say more about the sequel without spoiling too much, but it is safe to say that A) nothing is ever black and white, and B) to quote Luke Skywalker "This is not going  to go the way you think." Intrepid heroine/anti-heroine Tilla the bastard is back, with friends Zell and Lyriana by her side, and for their herculean deeds in the first book, they are given spots at the prestigious Lightspire University. As all three still suffer the effects of the dark endings of their friends in the previous books, they are soon swept along another wild ride. 

Shvarts manages to bring everything you could want to this book, and more, while remaining loyal to the characters and their natural progressions. I think fans will be thoroughly satisfied with this sequel.

Profile Image for Esmay.
416 reviews85 followers
July 1, 2018
This was important, I knew. This was the moment it all changed."

4 Stars.

I really loved this book, at the beginning I was scared that Tillandra wouldn't stop complaining about how unfair her life has been, but she kinda did. I do have to say that Tilla is not my favourite protagonist ever, but I like her. I did not really enjoy what was done with Zell, he turned into Mal 2.0 (I hate Mal from the grisha verse, just fyi) and I hope he turns into the badass warrior he was in the first book. I did really enjoy Ellarion, he was such a well rounded character and I really love him. Lyriana was a little bit on the complaining side for my likes, but overall an okay characters. What I really liked about this book was the plot and the pace, while the characters were a little boring at times the plot kept surprising me and that I really enjoyed, yes many things could have been seen early on, but I still liked it. All in all quite a good book and I cannot wait for the next one!
Profile Image for Lauren - SERIESous Books.
1,621 reviews60 followers
July 16, 2020
This definitely got better as the story progressed. As we moved away from the academy setting and the pieces started to fall into place, I started to get interested in the story.

As another reviewer said, the idea of loss of innocence and naivety is an interesting theme and I can appreciate the struggles the characters have to go through. But I also find the characters are slightly 1 dimensional and a tad cliche so I wanted a little more from them.

There are some interesting twists along the way though.
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,663 reviews356 followers
May 12, 2018
City of Bastards is book two of the Royal Bastards series by Andrew Shvarts. I was so excited to get a copy of this book that I broke my own rules around how far in advance I can read a book before it comes out. And it was totally worth it!!

This book picks up several months after the end of book one and Tilla is now living in the capital of Lightspire under the protection of Lyriana’s father, the Volaris King. It has taken some time to get used to all the new things but Tilla has adjusted. Despite the support, there are still a great number of people in Lightspire who see her as the daughter of the traitor who is waging war against them and they treat her like it when the King and Princess aren’t looking. Of course, she is still trying to come to terms with her brother’s death and

Zell is also trying really hard to adjust and find a place. When Lyriana boasted about his fighting skills and he beat three of his toughest men, the Captain of the City Watch offered him a place to stay and a place within the watch as long as he taught the men the Zitochi fighting style. It appears to be the best fit for him as he tries to figure out what to do next.

A lot happens in this book and Tilla and Zell getting used to Lightspire is really only a small piece of the puzzle. When Tilla’s roommate is found dead, everyone insists that it was suicide but Tilla doesn’t believe it. She knew Markiska and knew she would never have done such a thing. As Tilla digs into what happened, she learns more about the cult that is causing trouble in the capital and she also finds out more about how the West is beating the Lightspire mages.

I love the characters in this book. Of course, I talked about Tilla and Zell but just as important to the story are Princess Lyriana and Ellarion. Lyriana is, like Tilla, still trying to get over Jax’s death but she is doing it by being reckless. Tilla absolutely realizes this but doesn’t call her out on it. Instead, she stands by and supports Lyriana as best she can. I loved the friendship these two have built and while sometimes they hold things back, they are still very supportive and protective of each other. Ellarion is right with them every step of the way and uses his magic to help find answers and protect them. He is a perfect balance for this group with his knowledge of the kingdom and magic. Things get really interesting for him as he pushes the boundaries of his magic and I can’t wait to see how he is impacted in the next book.

There are a lot of reveals in this book both around what is happening with the West and the mage power. These characters tend to keep secrets from each other with the intention of protecting each other but in reality, it only makes things more difficult. I had some real concerns about some of these characters once things were revealed but I also have high hopes that they can all figure out how to make things work. Things just aren’t black and white in this book and it’s hard to disagree with any of the reasons why people are rebelling against the Volaris family.

Overall, I thought this was a great book two in this series and I can’t wait to see where Shvarts goes next with the story and these characters. There isn't much more I can say without potentially ruining the story but I will leave you with this. To quote Tilla, they may have lost the battle, but they will continue to fight the war. As the beginning of the resistance, they have a chance to create a new world and they are determined to do it together. If you are looking for a book that has magic, great characters, and an engaging story, definitely check this series out. I’ll be over here, impatiently waiting for the next book.

Thank you to the publisher for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carla.
5,941 reviews128 followers
April 6, 2021
Book two in the Royal Bastards series picks up where the first book ends. Tilla, Lyriana, and Zell are now living in the capital of Lightspire. Tilla and Lyriana are going to University and Zell is part of the city guard. Lyriana is lost without Jax, and is taking a lot of chances. Tilla knows something is wrong and is worried about Zell's disappearances. As the war continues, Tilla wants to know how her father's armies can beat the Mages who are supposed to be invincible. What she discovers is horrifying and puts them all at risk. Once again, the band of Bastards and their new friends are on the run.

I liked that the world building continued in this book, and a lot of the questions that I had left over from the first book were answered in this one. I enjoyed learning more about the magic and how it worked, as well as how it could be corrupted. The one thing that makes me a bit squeamish are the graphic and gory fight scenes. I know they are a large part of the story, so I am okay with them being there, but that is my one disappointment. The beginning of the book was a bit slow compared to the first book, but the second half of this book was action packed. Believe it or not, there are a lot of values and political ideas discussed and demonstrated in this book. Tilla keeps track of any deaths by her hand as she does not want to become callused. There is a lot of the plot dealing with classes, financial equality and fairness to all citizens. I like this part of the story, but it is not preachy, it fits in very well with the story. I enjoyed this one as much as I did the first one. If you plan to pick these books up, you MUST read them in order.
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