Book Review: THE DEFIANT HEIR by Melissa Caruso

The Defiant Heir.png
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult (but also YA)
Star Rating: 5/5
Series: yes - 2nd book in Swords and Fire



the defiant heir

War marshals at the Serene Empire’s borders but before the Witch Lords can declare war, they must hold a Conclave. Each Witch Lord has the right to vote, or abstain, but if they light the candles of war, violence and bloodshed will engulf the Serene Empire.

To prevent war, Amalia must secure an invite to the secretive conclave – an event no outsider has ever witnessed – and travel through hostile territory where her name is a beacon for danger. The secrets of the Witch Lords power, and the reason one in particular wants to kill her, are hers for the taking – if she can survive.  Can she trust her new allies, even knowing their playing games of their own?

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This is an amazing and honestly under appreciated series, full of magic, political intrigue and wonderful characters. TDH falls into that elusive category of sequels that outshine their predecessor.

The schemes are more complex, unfolding along with all these secrets about the world. Travelling into Vaskandar really fleshed out the world. It threw a murky light on the morality of the Witch Lords in general – except for Ruven. His creepy evil is even more pronounced. The magic system remains solidly defined, and never feels like a simple way out of a problem. If anything, magic complicates any problem.

Amalia is a compelling lead once more, and I loved how she’s really stepping into her own now. The events of TTM have given her a boost of confidence – and a lot more doubts thanks to the responsibilities laid on her. It was so much fun watching her slowly trust herself to make hard decisions. The decision at the climax was perfect, heartbreaking and handled so well but summing up the journey she’d come on.

Zaira shines with her customary bluntness and irreverence, but the friendship between then really blossoms. I love how much Zaira’s forcing Amalia to change, and the arc Zaira’s on – particualrly with regards to Terika. Marcello is adorable once more, and their relationship is one of the few ‘they really like each other but can’t be together’ that I like.

However, the absolute standout secondary character is newcomer Kathe. He was so sneaky, and I could never be sure what games he was up to. I wanted to know what cards were up his sleeve and desperately wanted to trust him, despite all my instincts roaring that there was something he was holding back.

I can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy – THE UNBOUND EMPIRE – when it comes out in April 2019

Read my reviews of other books by Melissa Caruso

Swords and Fire (this series):

Rooks and Ruin:


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