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Review: The Defiant - Lesley Livingston

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The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
Series: The Valiant #2
My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Fantasy
Published January 23rd 2018 by Razorbill

Source: ARC received from Razorbill via Edelweiss
Be brave, gladiatrix… And be wary. Once you win Caesar’s love, you’ll earn his enemies’ hate.

Fallon was warned.

Now she is about to pay the price for winning the love of the Roman people as Caesar’s victorious gladiatrix.

In this highly anticipated sequel to THE VALIANT, Fallon and her warrior sisters find themselves thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the ancient Roman Empire.

When dark treachery and vicious power struggles threaten her hard-won freedom, the only thing that might help the girl known as Victrix save herself and her sisters is a tribe of long-forgotten mythic Amazon warriors.

The only trouble is, they might just kill her themselves first.
I really enjoyed The Valiant when I read it earlier this year and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of The Defiant from Razorbill, even though it was past publication date which I am very grateful for! This has not effected my rating and all opinions are my own.
“But even if we’re too late for rescue, we’ll still be right on time for revenge.”
The Defiant was a really great sequel and I loved the themes explored in these books. Firstly, there's the kickass female gladiators (gladiatrices) and there's also the addition of another set of kickass Amazonian warriors. There's the fact that the entire plot is based in ancient Rome and deals with the politics of Ceaser and Cleopatra and Roman culture and customs. There's the loyalty of family, and not only the family that you are born into but the family that you chose for yourself.

This second installment in this series had a little less of the nail-biting arena scenes although they are obviously still included and the choreography has been really well thought out and it's easy to visualise the action. But this was less a tale of a gladiatrix's rise to fame and more a tale of the political intricacies and the horrific lengths people will go to doing things that they think will bring them power.

The plot is tightly woven with a lot of things happening and a lot of development throughout the book. Obviously being about warriors it can get pretty dark and gritty and there's blood and death and betrayal galore.
I shuddered. And then I ignited.
A coal of anger suddenly burst to life in my heart.
The characters are complex and I adored some of the secondary characters as well. Elka is still my favourite and I loved seeing her with Quint! Possibly my biggest ship in this series. Sorry Fallon!

Cai also grew in my estimation and I enjoyed watching his character struggle with various things and in the end, he came out on top - beaten and bruised, but on top.

All in all this was a really great sequel with higher stakes, the same (and more!) fierce female friendships and it managed to compound the things that I loved in The Valiant. I cannot wait to see where Livingstone takes us in The Triumphant.
..."You know nothing of the world of men. They will make vile sport of you in the moments before they send you to your deaths.”
“Only if you’ve trained us to be weaker than them,”
The Valiant (The Valiant #1)