Review – War of the Bastards by Andrew Shvarts

**Disclaimer: The below post has spoilers for the first and second book in the series, Royal Bastards.**

Title War of the Bastards (Royal Bastards #3)

Author Andrew Shvarts

Description from Amazon

A year has passed since the fall of Lightspire. The Inquisitor Miles Hampstedt rules Noveris with a blood-soaked iron fist. Tilla and her friends have become hardened rebels in the Unbroken, a band of guerilla fighters hiding out on the fringes of the Kingdom protecting the true queen, Lyriana Volaris. Even as they fight, they know their cause is doomed–that with every passing day Miles’s army of Bloodmages spreads across the continent. But at least they have each other?and some halfway-decent drinks. After a daring rescue mission, the group frees two vital prisoners: the Raven, a mysterious informant with a deep personal connection to Tilla, and Syan Syee, a strange girl from the Red Wastes who demonstrates an incredible new kind of magic and speaks of a secret civilization hidden in her isolated homeland. With Miles’s forces closing in, a ragtag team sets out on an eleventh-hour mission: form an alliance with Syan’s people that could turn the tide of the war. But what they discover in the Red Wastes changes everything, including their very understanding of the magic that runs through Noveris-magic that has brought the Kingdom to the brink of ruin.

In the epic conclusion to the Royal Bastards trilogy, Tilla faces an impossible choice: unthinkable destruction in the name of peace?or an uncertain future that means confronting a terrible past.

Initial Thoughts

I loved the narrator for this series so I knew I wanted to continue with it, despite my less than lukewarm feelings about City of Bastards. I wanted to finish the series because I thought it had a strong start. I really wasn’t sure where this book was going to finish but I wanted to hope that I would like the ending.

Some Things I Liked

  • Once again, I have to commend the narration. I loved the narrator of this audiobook. She really gave the story life.
  • The ending. I really did like the ending. It was a smidge predictable, but I liked it.
  • The steampunk elements. Ellarion’s hands, the Sky Whale. I thought they were cool elements to add to the story. And, they were explainable by magic. I found some other elements, less than fitting, but more on that later.
  • Elric Kent’s role in the story. I was glad to see Tilla had an opportunity to interact with her father again. It gave the story a rounded out feel. Like not everyone is totally bad or totally good. I was glad to see both Tilla and her father get the closure they needed.

Some Things I Wasn’t Crazy About

  • We still know next to nothing about the Zitochi. Zell was such a prominent character and full of culture but we learned nothing more about his people and their role in this story. Zell’s father had been one of Tilla’s father’s strongest allies and then he just totally fell off. Apparently nobody else wanted to support the Kents? It was very strange that such a seemingly important piece of the puzzle just fell off.
  • The sci-fi-esque turn the story book. Once our heroes were face to face with the Night Mother, I assumed she was some sort of goddess or deity but the images were more of alien or monster. I wasn’t crazy about the way the story changed from fantasy to sci-fi in the third book.
  • Lyriana’s romance plot. It just felt random. No spoilers, but I just thought it came out of nowhere and was just in there to make sure Lyriana didn’t end up alone in the end.

Final Thoughts

This series started out so strong. I was utterly hooked after reading Royal Bastards but the series fizzled with the next two books. What really kept it alive for me was the narrator. If I had read, instead of listening to, these books, I probably wouldn’t have finished the series (at least not right away). I think the ending saved this one. It made me happy to see my favorite characters get their happy endings and I think there is plenty of room for more books, side stories, and spin offs.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter – if you liked the idea that everything is not black and white, and characters can be evil with good intentions, and good with evil thoughts, definitely check out this book. There is darkness and light in every character.
  • Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – if you liked the steampunk-y elements featured in this book and liked the idea of magic mixed in with technology, give this book by Mary Fan a try.
  • House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig – if you liked the dark and spooky elements of this book (violence and gore), try this debut by Erin A. Craig. It’s more of a ghost story but it definitely has those elements. (P.S. I just finished it this morning and my review is coming later today!)

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