After escaping the West and her traitor father, who still wants to murder her, Tilla thought she was safe in the luxurious and noble city of Lightspire. She has her best friend, the princess, and her boyfriend, the foreign warrior. But she feels eyes on her everywhere she goes, her roommate and friend has been murdered, and she's being followed by a terrifying mage. To make matters worse, her father is winning his civil war and threatening the safety Tilla once thought she had.
City of Bastards is the sequel to Royal Bastards, which saw Tilla accidentally witness, help and then betray her father's rebellion. She falls in love and is stabbed in the back. She finds new friends and feels her first real loss. I loved the first book for its intricate plot, twists and romance. I was really looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
I was worried that the setting would feel stale, but since Tilla traveled through most of the first book and this part of the story takes place in a completely new and unique city, it felt brand new. I actually felt more immersed in and enjoyed the setting more in this sequel than I did in the first book. I got to know the world, the religion and culture of Tilla's world more in the story than I have previously.
The plot was more intricate than the previous book. While the first book has the excitement of the chase and Tilla's struggle with her love for her father and her morals, this book had more deceit and intrigue. I enjoyed trying to piece the story and figure out how what was going was going to further the plot that I got hooked onto in the first book. I got frustrated in some parts because it often so unrelated to the plot of the first book, although it was still a good story line.
The biggest problem I had with this book, in additional to my fear of a meandering middle book plot line, was the language. I noticed this bit in the first book, but it stuck like a sore thumb in the sequel. The world feels somewhere between steampunk and medieval, but Tilla's language in her speech and her inner dialogue is extremely modern. Nothing pulls me out of a dark, deep moment than Tilla's declaration of "It sucked." or something similar. While it could be the author's attempt at edgy or relatable writing, it came off as lazy editing.
City of Bastards is just as exciting and fast paced as the first book in the Royal Bastards series. The setting really pulled me in more than it had in the first book. I was often distracted and frustrated by a plot that didn't seem to have much to do with the original book, but I still enjoyed the story. However, Tilla's language pulled me out of the world and often made me question the time period of the book. I'll still be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series though, to see where the story is going next.