I’m just going to put this out there now, you need to read this Swords and Fire series, particularly The Defiant Heir. Go out now and grab this book. You can read this review first, but then go.
Across the border, the Witch Lords of Vaskandar are preparing for war. But before an invasion can begin, they must call a rare gathering of all seventeen lords to decide a course of action. Lady Amalia Cornaro knows that this Conclave might be her only chance to stifle the growing flames of war, and she is ready to make any sacrifice if it means saving Raverra from destruction.
Amalia and Zaira must go behind enemy lines, using every ounce of wit and cunning they have, to sway Vaskandar from war. Or else it will all come down to swords and fire.
So I fell in love with this series hard from book one, The Tethered Mage, and I have been awaiting this second installment ever since. If I thought I adored the first then I was wrong, because this is a whole new level of love. The characters I loved, the friendships, the relationships, the world, the politics, EVERYTHING was even better than before. Which is supremely impressive because Book One was pie and cake and ice cream in one. So this book is that plus cherries and sprinkles.
You could basically stop reading this review and just go ahead and pick both of these up and offer your soul for the third (or is that just me?). But if you need more persuasion, I’ll list you five reasons I loved this book.
Five Reasons Why
(see what I did there)
- Reading this threw me back head first into the fantastic world that Caruso has created. It was amazing. It’s like when you come home from college the first time and you meet up with all your HS friends at your old haunts and you feel both like nothing has changed, and also that everything is different in a different and amazing way.
- Amalia and Zaira’s friendship just keeps developing and getting better and more emotional. They are such different characters on their own, but together that have this witty banter, intelligence, and bring out the best (and sometimes the not as much) qualities in each other. But Zaira is my favorite, because hello she takes names and deals fire! Can we also just talk about how much I need to read books with female friendships at the center? This is the book series I would give to every teen in my life – of which there are actually none….
- There’s a f/f relationship in this book that makes my heart swoon. It’s so freaking adorable and the two characters are just so great and I could talk all about them but I don’t want to spoiler you, so READ THE BOOK. Part of what makes me love this relationship, is that part of the challenges is to learn not to push people away – that it’s okay to be vulnerable.
- A new character is introduced here that is just SO amazing. They’re my favorite one – for sure – and it introduces an interesting dynamic to the book that I didn’t dislike! I am such a sucker for characters who are clever, who never really tell you what they’re thinking, who are just a gigantic enigma. UGH I love them. At the same time though, if I had to interact with them in real life, I’d surely punch them.
- One of the major challenges Amalia faces this book is the idea of duty. What will she have to do for the good of her kingdom? What will she have to sacrifice? Amalia has to realize what makes a good ruler and how to play the diplomacy game. So I enjoyed watching her character grow and develop into her future character arc.
I’m so ready for the next one, while this one didn’t leave my heart in ashes, the next one is the concluding book and I know more things will burn. Check out The Defiant Heir on Goodreads.