Review of Library book The Defiant Heir – Book 2 of the Swords and Fire series by Melissa Caruso #Brainfluffbookreview #TheDefiantHeirbookreview #LibraryLoveChallenge


This is the sequel to The Tethered Mage – see my review – which so very nearly made my Outstanding Reads list for last year – I loved the idea that mages with their magical power needed to be contained. While it isn’t a new idea, this version where each mage has a minder who can release their power or shut it down works very well.

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.

Thoughout the book, we stay in the viewpoint of Lady Amalia, whose mother, La Contessa, rules Raverra with a canny intelligence. Right from the beginning, Amalia knew she was destined for a life in politics, despite her interest in studying forms of magic as an academic subject. And then she inadvertently ends up in a situation where that academic interest suddenly becomes far more practical when she crosses paths with a mage with a rare but lethal talent. I think it’s a clever move to make Amalia bookish and rather shy at the start of the series – her character progression is noticeable from The Tethered Mage through to this book.

However the political crisis, where Raverra is threatened by the terrifying Witch Lords who rule Vaskandar, now needs her to represent her mother on a diplomatic mission where thousands of lives are at stake. The gathering sense of danger and sense of fear at what the Witch Lords are capable of doing, with the hideous beasts they are able to enchant, is palpable. From the first page, I was snagged by this one and found it difficult to put down. While I thoroughly enjoyed The Tethered Mage, I think The Defiant Heir is even better. The supporting cast are all well written and nicely three-dimensional – particularly Zaire and the unpredictable Kathe, who controls the crows…

The pacing is beautifully judged throughout, so that by the end I stayed up waaay later than I should to discover what happens at the end and found the conclusion completely satisfying – though leaving me with a real hankering for more from this world. Thank goodness I shan’t have to wait too long for the next book, The Unbound Empire. Highly recommended for fans of well written swords and sorcery with a splash of romance.

17 responses »

  1. That sounds like a pretty unique set-up for a world with how the magic needs to be contained. And I like the sound of the three dimensional character and seeing Amalia grow throughout the series. I might have to check out book 1 in this series, I’ll go on to read your review for that one next.

    • Thank you, Lola:). Oh yes – I have LOVED this series! I’ve just had the great good luck to be given the arc of the final book in the trilogy and this is one of my favourite series of the year. Amalia continues to grow and develop and the risks become ever greater. The pacing and characterisation are so very well done!

    • If ever you’re at a loose end and wondering which series to get into… *dissolves into gales of hilarious laughter at the unlikely scenario* I can highly recommend this one!

  2. I’ve skipped the review, even though I know you won’t have spoilers. I have read the first and need to get to this one – think I’ll pick up the audio. That should give me a helping hand.
    Lynn 😀

  3. Now this one sounds like a fantasy series I would enjoy. I love the cover as well. I like that the characters were well-developed and the idea of containing magic is quite intriguing. Nice review Sarah.

  4. I like your reviews because as time passes, they remind me of series I meant to check out but never did. And this series is such a case – I’m still curious, so by the time you get around to reviewing book 5 or 6 (assuming they’re coming), I might finally get to reading the first book. 😉

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