I first read The Defiant by Lesley Livingston in January 2018. This review was originally posted on my Goodreads account at that time. I made edits and expansions before posting here. I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of this book, so I will not quote but just comment in general.
The Defiant is good follow-up to the first book of the series. We get the characters (Fallon, Elka, Cai, and Aeddan especially) more fleshed out, and I enjoyed seeing real life figures such as Cleopatra get time in the spotlight as well.
As with the first book, however, this plot is rather predictable at parts. Perhaps it is simply that many books, especially targeted toward teens, follow a similar plot structure and subscribe to certain tropes. On the other hand, I am so glad this didn’t go the usual YA route, with a love triangle being the driving force for drama. Instead, this has an actual betrayal and scheming to motivate the characters.
On the other hand, I did find the take on feminism in this book to be a little troubling. Fallon seems to subscribe to the frustrating concept that to be considered a “strong, capable woman” you must look down on traditionally feminine actions and traits. She never denies she is a woman, but constantly seeks to fight as well as men. She even declares at one point that she and the others in the ludus (the school for gladiators) are better than men. In enforcing this idea that feminists always look down on men and “girly” girls, Fallon is a little… aggravating. She is strong and capable, but she does not own being a woman as I wish she would. *rant endeth*
All that aside, this book certainly isn’t bad. The plot is decent, as is the writing. The fight scenes and historical details of Rome are well-researched and explained. I am sure if you liked the first book, you’ll probably like the second one.
Overall rating: 7/10