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In a highly anticipated sequel to its epic series starter, The Defiant follows Fallon in the events that unfold after her successful acquisition of the ownership of Ludus Achillea. Does The Defiant live up to the standards set in The Valiant? Or is it destined to disappoint? Read on to find out if The Defiant is something you’d like to read!
The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
The Valiant was an epic series starter. It was based upon an original and intriguing plot line. This plot line followed the main character, Fallon, as she was captured into slavery and sold to Julius Caesar as a female gladiator. Her duty was to fight for the entertainment of the Roman people, and simultaneously fight to keep her life.
As a gladiatrix, Fallon had to fight many battles, some of which weren’t within the walls of the arena. In the end of The Valiant, Fallon defeated her enemies and acquired ownership of the Ludus Achillea for her sister. In doing that, she earned the freedom of every female gladiator in the academy.
However, Fallon was warned that once she gained Caesar’s love (which she had when she finally bought the Ludus from him), she’d gain his enemies’ hate.
The Defiant starts off its own story by diving right into the nitty gritty of the both dangerous and surprisingly political rivalry between the Ludus Achillea and Amazons. The Amazons were the competing gladiatrix academy under the brutish rule of Pontius Aquila.
Fallon and the rest of the female gladiators from Ludus Achillea have just started to get a taste of true freedom of owning their own academy when disaster strikes and threatens their freedom. But this time, Caesar isn’t the enemy.
Fallon and the remaining members of the Ludus Achillea must face many challenges in the aftermath of this disaster. This leads to them seeking outside help from the source of inspiration of one of the gladiatrix academies itself.
For Fallon and her friends, her sisters, had just gotten their freedom. And they weren’t about to let it be taken away as easily as it had been taken the first time. Die, or die trying . . . well, so be it.
The Defiant builds on the empowering bonds of sisterhood displayed in the first book, while also highlighting the importance of family and friends.
What should you expect going into the second installment of this series?
I genuinely enjoyed The Valiant, which was the first book in this series. From its arena fights to its strong theme of sisterhood, it intrigued me from the moment I read the first sentence. The Valiant had me hooked til the very end. I finished The Valiant with a whirlwind of emotions. They all combined to form one very coherent thought: I had to get my hands on the next installment.
I just had to.
And it wasn’t something I could wait for. The very next day, I drove 45 minutes to the nearest Barnes & Noble. And you better believe I bought the hardback of The Defiant.
That’s how excited I was to read it.
So imagine my shock when The Defiant turned out to be filled with events that I wasn’t prepared for. Events that didn’t even come to mind when I thought of what I’d hoped to see.
I expected to love the second installment of The Valiant unconditionally. Instead I found myself . . . questioning how much I liked the first book.
Now, The Defiant wasn’t bad, per say. But it definitely has a very different story. I think that it could appeal to different types of readers than the types of readers The Valiant drew in.
The plot of The Defiant was shockingly different from that of The Valiant, but still believable at the heart of it.
The plot line was, while very different, still believable and the conflicts of the story were also believable. The conflicts were dangerous and logically dealt with. There’s nothing more “ugh” worthy than a book where the plot is riddled with pointless or easy conflicts. Or where a conflict is dealt with in a way that creates more drama when there’s a perfectly reasonable alternate plan of action available. Thankfully, The Defiant contains actual life-threatening danger and reasonable barriers to keep the ideal course of action from being taken. Thank the Morrigan for small mercies.
Is The Defiant obvious, or will readers be surprised?
Well this one is a complicated question, especially for this book. There were some bits of information in The Valiant that surprises could’ve been created from, but the author just goes ahead and tells readers (and characters) ahead of time. So, lost surprise there, but I guess it was on purpose. However, because The Defiant follows a strangely different plot line than it’s previous installment, readers will be knocked off balance and they will be unsure of what is to come because of the sudden changes in story. I can say there was one good surprise that I didn’t quite see coming, which was definitely fun to read about. It certainly excited me a lot more than I had previously been while reading.
Is this story as entertaining to read as The Valiant?
In my opinion, no. Though, keep in mind what I said earlier: The Valiant and The Defiant are different enough in their plots that they might attract different kinds of readers to each. I was attracted to the plot of The Valiant but not as much so to The Defiant. The same may be said for other readers, or vice versa. It all depends on the reader. As for the general entertainment level brought on by the plot, I found the beginning and ending of The Defiant to be entertaining enough, but the middle was sort of a bore.
The beginning of The Defiant was rich with gladiatrix fighting and entertainment, reminding readers of the best parts of The Valiant. However, towards the middle, that excitement took a sharp decline into the dead-zone, where, frankly, I just didn’t give a crow’s beak about what happened. I just wanted to get to the good part (which, at this point, I was just hoping there was a good part). Finally, with less than 100 pages left in the book, The Defiant picked up the pace and once again captured my attention, w here I then managed to finish those last hundred pages in one sitting.
Will readers be shaking on the edge of their seats from fear as they read The Defiant?
I would answer this with another hard no. I wasn’t scared for the characters in the slightest. It’s always good when at least a little bit of fear is instilled in me as a reader. Especially whenever I embark on a character’s journey and ride it out until the very end of a series. However, I felt too safe in Fallon’s shoes, and wasn’t afraid of any huge sacrifices.
Do readers get to see any character progressions or arcs throughout the story?
I think the characters in this story had some issues. The antagonists weren’t laughable, but they weren’t the greatest either. And Fallon had flaws, which was good to see. She wasn’t perfect, and she wasn’t all powerful. She had to practice a particular skill throughout the book that really helped her out later. And she didn’t automatically excel at it right off the bat!
However, there was so much time for the characters to acquire more depth and let readers get to know them. To really get readers to identify and relate to them. But that time wasn’t used, which resulted in the same cardboard characters as seen in the first novel. Actually, Fallon focused so much on her agenda rather than on the people around her, that I felt like I was getting pulled away from the characters. I felt as if I knew the characters LESS than I did in The Valiant.
Due to this, I really couldn’t bring myself to care what happened to Fallon, Can, or any of the others. The story fails to let readers connect with the characters. That causes there to be a detachment from readers and the story. Detachment from the characters got so bad for me, that I couldn’t even keep the characters straight. Fallon couldn’t mention characters aside from Cai and herself often enough for me to figure out who was who. So more often than not, when she mentioned other characters (especially other gladiatrix), I was totally lost about who that character actually was.
I did see some character development in Aeddan which was a welcome addition to the story. I didn’t se much from him, but I did see enough to start coming around to liking him well enough.
Will readers like the writing style of the author?
This largely depends on the reader, but I did enjoy the writing style at least. It is quick and easy to read and understand. She does use more flowery words than the usual young adult author, but I was fine with it. The writing flowed smoothly and I didn’t have any trouble with choppy sentences. The Point-of-View was easy to follow (which was first person, from Fallon’s point of view). There wasn’t much foreshadowing hidden throughout the story at all, but I don’t believe that’s a negative to the writing because that’s possibly just because the structure of the plot simply didn’t make foreshadowing a necessity.
I do enjoy reading Lesley Livingston’s fighting scenes. These types of scenes make up a large portion of The Valiant which was most likely the reason I liked it when I read it. And while fighting wasn’t at the forefront of this more politically-centered sequel, I did enjoy reading the fighting scenes that did occur.
What about Cai and Fallon? Is there anything great in store for them in The Defiant?
I wasn’t impressed by the chemistry (or lack thereof) and dynamic of these two in The Valiant and it certainly didn’t get better in The Defiant. I don’t think I’ve ever cared about a literary romance less than I did in The Defiant. If you know me, or have read a lot of my reviews on my Goodreads or here on my blog, you’d know that romance is my favorite aspect of a book, and the thing I critique more harshly than anything else. And with The Defiant? The romance did not pass the test, my friends. So if you’re in it just for the hope of the romance getting better, The Defiant is not going to satisfy that craving. The plot focuses mainly on sisterhood and scarcely anything else.
Overall, The Defiant was a strange surprise that I’m not even sure I like or dislike. The very plot idea I loved the premise of in The Valiant is taken away in The Defiant and replaced by something entirely different. It’s characters and romances remained without generous depth, and it’s lengthy middle was filled with scenes with little entertainment. I don’t think all fans of The Valiant will hate it, but I don’t think all fans of The Valiant will love it either. Like I said, the plot change also creates a change in the audience that The Defiant will appeal to. So, fans of The Valiant, just be prepared for the change as you embark on the journey of reading The Defiant.
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Chat with Me – What are some sequels that just didn’t live up to the first book, or that seemed to change completely from the first book? What are some series that the characters just never developed despite how much you wished for them to. Have you already read this book? Tell me what you thought about it! If you have questions, want to rant about this book (series) don’t be afraid to comment below!
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