Audiobook Review: The Defiant by Lesley Livingston
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Series: The Valiant #2
Also by this author: The Valiant
Published by Listening Library on January 23rd 2018
Length: 10 Hours and 20 Minutes
Also in this series: The Valiant
Gladiator Fallon and her warrior sisters must face off against a rival gladiator academy in this lush sequel to the highly anticipated historical fantasy The Valiant.
They call her "Victrix" now. Victory. But winning the highest honor ever bestowed upon a gladiatrix in Rome has earned Fallon more deadly enemies outside the arena than she ever faced within it. And it is those dearest to Fallon who will pay the price for her success. Now, Fallon and her warrior sisters are thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon's heart--and her love for Roman soldier Cai--but the very heart of the Roman Empire.
I’ll be honest, I read The Valiant by Lesley Livingston pretty much on a whim last year. It wasn’t a book that was on my radar until after it was released, which is unusual. I read a couple of glowing reviews for it for that essentially made me set my review books to the side because it sounded so good. I was glad I did because it just happened to have everything I love and in just the right amounts. I am very happy to tell you that The Defiant continues with all the strengths and excitement that made me enjoy The Valiant so much.
I still love Fallon as a character. She is strong both physcially and mentally, but she is not infallible. She won the admiration and respect of Caesar at the end of the first book, and now we can see how that has impacted her life. Her rise to be favored by Caesar And known as “Victrix” gave her a decent life, but when it comes down to it, she is still a slave and not free to do as she pleases. And winning so much also puts her in the spotlight for potential enemies. Also to add to the Intrigue a bit, if you read book one, you may remember Fallon witnessed some pretty nefarious underground stuff and we never really learned more about it. Well, that all becomes clearer and more critical in The Defiant (as one might expect).
Fallon and her fellow gladiatrices find themselves as fugitives and the concept of trust becomes something that Fallon needs to evaluate both with who she should trust, as well as who she should not. You can’t go through life never trusting anyone, and for her, survival depends on it. But of course sometimes its trickier to guage where to place your trust than others, and Fallon definitely struggles with that. It is interesting seeing her character deal with this, and it creates a bit of inner conflict at times. It also shows opportunities for her to grow as a person, which is always nice. I’m not even saying this is a fault of hers, its a common human struggle that most people can relate to.
Speaking of personal relationships, I don’t always enjoy romance in books and my enjoyment of it really seems depends on how much I relate to the characters as well as how it is incorporated into the story. I have to admit, I do really like this one and root for Fallon and Cai as a couple. There’s just been so much pain and fighting for Fallon, I love seeing her find happpiness with someone and have something to look forward to. Everything is not easy and straightforward for them, and I think that helps the romance from feeling over the top. I’m not sure Fallon is really the “dreaming” type for the future, but for us readers, it is really nice to envision a potential happy future for her, with someone that makes her happy by her side. If it will work out in the end, we’ll probably have to read book three to find out, but it sure hope it does!
Overall, I have to say I still absolutely adore this series. I love all of the tough women characters that can have a bit of attitude, but still remain human instead of caricatures. I love the ancient rome setting, and the entire concept of women gladiators, so book three is on my Must Read As Soon As I Can Get My Hands On It list.
Audiobook Notes: To cut straight to it, I also love the narration for this series. Sometimes when I start a book in audio and the narrator works really well, I just can’t imagine switching to print and missing out on their performance. That is the case with Fiona Hardingham’s narration of The Valiant series. She makes this an easy and addictive read placing just the right emphasis and inflection to keep the reader fully engaged with story. I am sure the print version of this book is also amazing, so if you don’t do audiobooks, no worries since narration alone can’t create this good of an experience, but it can add a positive element to the experience if you enjoy audiobooks.