Author: Sara B. Larson
Publication: Scholastic Press (January 7, 2014)
Description: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
My Thoughts: DEFY was an exciting high fantasy book. Alexa Hollen is an excellent fighter but, in order to keep out of the king's breeding house when she becomes an orphan, she has to pretend to be a boy. She and her twin brother Marcel join the king's army and work their way up to being guards for Prince Damian, the king's heir.
But the king is a horrible person, doing horrible things to his country. He hates and kills sorcerers but has a black sorcerer as his bodyguard. Damian wants to overthrow his evil father and concocts a number of plots to make it happen. He has asked Alex for her trust but is keeping many secrets from her.
There is a love triangle in this story. Alex loves Damian but she is also loves fellow guard Rylan. Rylan has known she was a girl since the beginning but hadn't told her. Her brother had sworn him to secrecy. Rylan has also loved her for years. Alex is torn between the two men who are both worthy love interests.
I did have a couple of minor problems with the book. The whole idea that Alex could pass as a man in the prince's guard seems unlikely. She has been passing for three years and is now 17. She is sort of reaching the end of the time when that is going to work. Also, the number of people who know she is a girl is expanding exponentially as she gets involved in Damian's revolution. My second issue has to do with the economics of sending all orphan girls into the breeding houses to make more soldiers for the king's army. There are lots of years when the children born are useless as soldiers or breeders. What happens to them?
Beyond those minor quibbles, the book was filled with adventure and excitement. Fans of high fantasy will enjoy it.
If I wasn't able to stop Iker, the king was almost assured his victory—but at what cost? Did he intend to be the king of a graveyard?I got this eARC at NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.