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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gritty!

Defy by Sara B. Larson

The Kingdoms of Antion and Blevon have been at war for years as the result of the Queen of Antion having been assassinated by sorcerers from Blevon. All sorcery has and continues to be rooted out in the Kingdom of Antion.
When her village, situated deep in the jungle, is attacked by a Blevon sorcerer and his soldiers and burnt to the ground by strange fire, a young girl, Alexa, is forced to disguise herself as a younger brother. Her parents have been killed and what's left of the village population is being led off into bondage by the armed forces of King Hector of Antion.
King Hector is a hard and unforgiving man, ably assisted by his trusted advisor, Iker,  a man whom all are terrified by.    
Having trained in sword fighting with her brother and father all her life she survives as a soldier. Both talented fighters, they rise through the ranks to become part of the Personal Bodyguard for the prince. Alexa is the superior fighter, Marcel does the thinking.
But there is something more about Alex / Alexa. She can almost feel when sorcery might be involved. She senses something at key moments, but what it is is unclear, yet it alerts her to the level of danger.
Prince Damian is somewhat indolent and pleasure seeking, and yet there is something about him that makes Alex wonder if he sees more, or is more than he seems.
Alex feels a growing attraction for the Prince, a drawback in this dangerous game of hiding her true self. All feelings must be suppressed. Otherwise her fate will be an abhorrence.
By becoming a boy Alexa, as Alex, escaped the usual fate of women and girls in her position. In the Kingdom of Antion females are indeed the victims of this war. They are reduced to objects. They are placed into breeding houses. As soon as girls menstruate they are raped constantly by the general guards until they became pregnant with future soldiers. A scene of diabolical inhumanness to horrify and disgust. Women reduced to objects of war. This was the part of the story that stayed with me. 
Alex becomes the centre of two men's attention. Will she chose either when doing so goes against her survival thus far?
Into this mixture of war, brutality, and black sorcery, intrigue and murder, a story of overcoming, of love and justice grows, and a gratifying tale is woven.

A NetGalley ARC

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