#BookReview by @LRWLee of Endure

Endure_Cover Friendship. Conflict. Love’s Triumph. This is how I summarize Endure, book three in the Defy trilogy by Sara B. Larson.

SUMMARY (from back): At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy, that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Wow. A lot happened in this final book of the series. We start at the problem of how to defeat Rafe, an evil sorcerer, who controls Rylan’s mind while holding him prisoner to get to Alexa, and Damian begging Alexa to never leave him again. We end at peace and happily ever after with the world safe from evil and a new dawn for Antion and the neighboring nations.

While I understand why Larson has Damian act as he does at the beginning, it felt like he became juvenile and lacking the dignity his role demands. I hate whiny kings and he became one. Like I said, I understand why and it worked out in the end, but still…

It came as no surprise that Alexa decides, against Damian’s wishes to go rescue Rylan. As a reader I knew the plot would go that way…it was too obvious. So then it became only a question of how the resulting conflict would go down.

I was left wondering, if I had been Damian, how would I have felt when the woman I love goes off and tries to free her friend. I guess that’s what a true friend does…but the author basically trades Eljin’s life for Rylan’s with her struggling for survival.

I thought the wrap up was only “okay”, as we never hear about most of the other characters like Ajax and Lisbet ever again other than brief mentions.

Overall, I like this book was a fitting conclusion to the series, but I liked it less than book two, based upon the seemingly overused plot line and lack of satisfying wrap up. I give this 4 stars.

Buy Endure at Amazon

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.

#BookReview by @LRWLee of Ignite

Ignite CoverAction. Vulnerability. Suspense. This is how I summarize Ignite (Book 2 in the Defy series) by Sara B. Larson, the sequel to Defy.

SUMMARY (From back): Murder, kidnapping, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson’s acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa continues to harbor a secret love for the newly crowned King Damian, yet she remains by his side as his guard and ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people. However, when a new threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on the once friendly nation of Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. Once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy — before it’s too late?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Larson expands what she began in book one in this engaging tale. Prince Damian is as charming and beautiful as ever and the love triangle with Rylan gets no easier for Alexa. She vascilates between the two men she loves, knowing Rylan is the “sensible” choice for her husband for she is “just” a member of the king’s guard without privilege or honor as befitting the queen of a nation. Yet her heart knows better…

Meanwhile, a band of strange sorcerers visits Antion–sorcerers undetectible by Damian–and begin a campaign to overwhelm the monarchy and citizens, with mind control. Larson did a good job of painting a very bleak situation that I couldn’t easily see how it would resolve. And what’s more, she put the characters through their paces and did not make it resolve easily (good job)! I hate books where an author backs the characters into a corner, then makes the conflict resolve so easily as to make it annoying. Larson did not commit that sin 🙂

In fact, I LOVED how the author used the climax of the central conflict to force Alexa to at last confess her deep, deep love of Damian, getting her logic out of the way and laying bare, in a very vulnerable way, her heart for the man. I still remember the scene…Damian asks, “Did you mean what you said?” and Alexa confesses, “Yes.” Oh, be still my heart…

One thing I still don’t understand…why was Alexa chosen? And why does a nation want her so badly that they send a sorcerer to apprehend her? I guess this is to be explored in the next book in the series…hope…hope.

Which brings me to my one complaint. Larson leaves you hanging at the end. So much is left open and while I understand she wants us to buy the next book to see how it all works out, I felt dissatisfied and empty at how she left us after such a gripping rollercoaster ride. Nonetheless, I plan to read the next installment 🙂

Overall, I give Ignite 4.5 stars.

Buy Ignite at Amazon

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.

#BookReview by @LRWLee of Defy

DefyCoverRomance. Mystery. Twists. This is how I summarize Defy by Sara B. Larson.

Summary from back: 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?

WHAT I THOUGHT: I will say up front I’m a sucker for a messy love story set against a fantasy world. I enjoy love sprouting in a barren wasteland, or though the cracks in the sidewalk where it’s impossible for it to thrive, but it does–it persists and refuses to give up. You kinda have to be this way to fully enjoy this book because a love triangle is a central theme throughout. If you despise this type of conflict, this book is probably not for you.

The book starts with an intriguing premise–there are breeding houses established by the maniacal king to produce warriors to support his long-term and unending war efforts. They are painted in sufficient depth as to create revulsion and disgust and set up a central part of the conflict, namely that Alexa Holden masquerades as a boy (aided by her twin brother) to avoid said houses and their abuse.

Of course Alexa can’t just be an ordinary “boy”…that would never do in a fantasy story. She discovers she has traces of a gift for sword-fighting passed down from her father who we find out was a sorcerer, in a land where sorcerery is frowned upon and made to be a crime punishable by death.

I liked the setting Larson situated the book in, a jungle, which added creepy crawlies and jaguars that aren’t in most YA fantasy. It was a nice change.

A few issues I had with the plot: We never understand why King Hector, the maniacal monarch, is the way he is. We also don’t understand why he is at war. He trumped up a bogus reason to get the people to fight against a neighboring kingdom, but we never understand why. We also don’t come to understand why certain people are sorcerers. What’s the background narrative about how sorcerers came to be in the land. We also never understand how so many folks knew Alexa was a girl masquerading as a boy. Perhaps that is yet to come in book two, but it’s certainly a question.

One other thing, Larson needs to expand her repetoire of ways to describe a character’s “inscrutible” look. She mixed in a few but way too many “inscrutible”s for my liking.

Overall, I enjoyed the read and give it 4 stars. I’m curious to see what book 2 has in store.

Buy Defy at Amazon

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Review by YA fantasy author L. R. W. Lee
Website: LRWLee.com
Twitter: @lrwlee
FB: LRWLee Author
Blog: blog.LRWLee.com

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the award winning Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age epic fantasy series.