Once again, Lesley Livingston stuns me. When I picked up The Valiant, I hadn't heard anything about it, but knew I had to have it. Maybe it was the appeal of a story about gladiatrices, or maybe it was the way Fallon looked so fierce and proud on the cover, but regardless, by the end, I had a new favorite story.
The Defiant was a surprisingly good sequel. It's been a while since I've read a sequel that I really loved as much as the first book. It had been a while since I'd read The Valiant, and I enjoyed immersing myself in the world of the Ludus again. Usually I'm not too hot on betrayal-and-escape stories, but the rest of the boxes were checked so I decided to give it a go. I was indeed pleasantly surprised.
I love stories with solid bands of friends, and also sibling relationships, so seeing more of the Achillean girls as well as Sorcha made me so happy. I'm so glad that Fallon didn't have to go on her quest alone. A healthy portion of the book was about overcoming cattiness and girls setting themselves and their friends up for success instead. Nyx was disliked for the proper reasons, namely that she never truly understood that sisterhood was supposed to mean more than just having a crew to follow her around, instead of just having a petty rivalry with Fallon.
I sort of wish we had seen Sorcha and Fallon travel back to their homelands, but maybe that's a tale for another time. I liked seeing Sorcha in her roles as a big sister and leader as well as a fighter, but I also appreciated Fallon making her own path instead of always looking to Sorcha for guidance.
The romance between Fallon and Cai was well-done. I was glad to see him being so supportive of her choices, and always being willing to see her as an equal and help with her plans. I'm glad that none of Fallon's relationships with her sister, her Ludus sisters, or Cai were called into question during the book. As I stated, I'm not a fan of massive betrayals unless they are absolutely amazing, and I much prefer to see a band of friends working together.
Overall, amazing story about a young gladiatrix working with her friends to shape their world. 5/5 stars.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.