A quick note before the review: Our resident fantasy book fiend Misti was planning to review this one, but it wasn’t to her taste. Luckily for us though, it was very much to the taste of Misti’s sister, Holli Hamilton, and Holli has been kind enough to supply us with her thoughts on the Defiant Heir – over to Holli for her guest post:
Set immediately after the events of the previous book, “The Defiant Heir” expands on the landscape of magic and intrigue Caruso introduced us to in her debut novel, “The Tethered Mage”.
The first book provided a bold introduction into the Serene Empire and its capital Raverra; a city steeped in fantasy Venetian culture and layers of political machinations, from the doge and his palace balls, down to the street gangs smuggling for foreign gold. It also introduced the Serene Empire’s magical system of a paired Mage and their controlling Falconer who has the ability to seal or release their Mage’s power on command. In that world we met Lady Amalia Correro, an unintentional Falconer, and her equally unenthusiastic Falcon, Zaira. Through Zaira’s power as the empire’s only fire mage and Amalia’s place as the heir to her mother’s seat on the empire’s ruling council, they found themselves at the centre of political maneuverings between the states of the empire.
This book expands that universe into the illusive kingdoms of the Witch Lords of Vaskandar. With talk of war on the horizon, the Witch Lords must gather in conclave to decide who among them will join the assault on the Serene Empire. This meeting is the only chance for Amalia and Zaira to influence the course of war and protect the Serene Empire from imminent attack. Travelling into Vaskandar, this book pulls you into the world of the Witch Lords which was only touched upon in the previous outing. Their rich magic systems and varied relationships to the land, and its people, provide a colourful array of new problems for the fledgling negotiator and her volatile companion.
While she’s dealing with an empire’s-worth of political issues, Amalia is also trying to navigate her own emotions in the new relationships thrust upon her since becoming a Falconer and a prominent piece on the Raverra political board. She must balance her duty with her own personal feelings and moral code. For someone raised in such a politically-charged world, Amalia is still naive to the sacrifices of duty expected of her. While she overtly worries about Zaira’s desire to leave the Falcons, she still seems to be subconsciously searching for a way to find her own freedom.
Like the first, this book is fast-paced and easy to get sucked into for hours at a time. As with every second book in a trilogy, it leaves you wanting more; so hopefully the third installment isn’t far behind