“I feel like a pawn in a game that on one bother to teach me.”
Murder, abductions, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson’s acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.
Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy — before it’s too late?
Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | National Book Store
IGNITE is definitely an action and tension-filled fantasy story. Sara B. Larson didn’t waste time putting her characters to another whirlwind of challenges, both personal and professional.
Damian is the new King of Antion trying his best to rebuild the Kingdom after the devastating war. He is trying to make amends to his people after what the former King, his father done for the sake of power. His best guard, Alex/a still continue to hold a position as one of his guard, protecting him with her best of ability without hiding her true sexuality anymore. As the only female in the King’s guard, Alexa earned both respect and judgment from people around her. Some love her guts and other hate or envy her. But still she continue to serve the new-King and the whole Kingdom of Antion even being closer to the Damian means more heartache for her. She may not be pretending to be a boy anymore but she is still hiding something. She has to hide her true feelings for the King because she think that she isn’t good enough for him, and that Antion deserves a much better Queen than a scarred soldier like her.
Then new threats are coming, the peace that Antion held for awhile is in danger once more. There are attacks in their Kingdom and the blame leads to their new found ally, Blevon. But Alexa and Damian cannot believe it, not with Eljin saying differently and not after they made peace to the neighboring Kingdom. They have their theories but they need proofs before everything else goes wrong.
“I didn’t like him demonstrating his skills unnecessary. The people’s trust in him was a tenuous, fragile thing, and I was afraid that one wrong act on his part would cause it to break.”
Alexa is still the smart and tough soldier that she is just like in the first book, DEFY. But without the pretension of being a boy we are now be able to see more of her softer side. Her feelings for Damian though concealed to everyone but her, gives readers access to a more loving and caring Alexa. Her confusions, and heartache are more visible and easy to felt. Her struggle to adopt to being the only girl in the King’s guard is handle very well by the author. Showing Alexa’s insecurities and doubts make her more accessible and relate-able.
“Again, I wondered what he was hoping to accomplish.”
Damian is constantly an enigma to me. Just like in DEFY he continue to be so mysterious that sometimes I wish the story is written in his point of view instead of Alexa or at least in dual perspective just so I would know what he was thinking or planning. Like during the dinner with Lady Vera, I keep on wondering his plans for the girl, what he really think her motive is for visiting and how is he planning to handle the situation in his Kingdom or with Alexa. I really wish I know what’s running in his mind. I think he holds the answers to most of my questions than Alexa.
“I wish I could go after him. I feel so trapped here, in my palace. On my throne. I am a king, and yet I’ve never felt more powerless to do something.”
As a new King, Damian holds so much power in his hands, he has a whole battalion of guards/army to command, a whole nation is under him. But Damian has his own low moments too. And in this novel, Sara successfully shows Damian’s vulnerability without making him weak. Like when he wants to go to the jungle to save someone he love. As much as he wants to put himself out there, as a King he can’t just do so, because he has now a whole kingdom to protect, and a whole nation to serve. It’s not about just him or his love ones, he needs to consider the majority of his people, and sometimes it is kingdom first before anyone or anything else. During those times it’s so easy to feel Damian’ struggles which in return shows more of his emotions, love, and honesty. It makes it so easy to connect to him and to just love him more.
As I close the final page of IGNITE, I feel contented even with the cliffhanger ending. Sara managed to deliver a full story in this novel even with a few plot arcs to work around. For a middle book of a series, Ignite is pretty impressive. It doesn’t just act as a bridge to next book but it is very essential to the whole series. It’s like Ignite has it’s own plot running inside a much larger plot arc of the whole series. If in DEFY, we have the war between the two Kingdoms of Antion and Blevon, and Alexa and Damian’s secret identity and special ability to uncover, now in Ignite we have a new enemy for Antion – a much frightening and more deadlier enemy which actually playing an important role in the first book without the readers knowing it. There’s also more progress to Alexa and Damian relationship, and more secrets and powers to explore. I don’t know how Sara planned this whole series but it feels like she has the whole story panned out from the start. Like she knows where she is going and what steps she is taking to get there. And those cliffhangers are there not for the gimmicky purpose of getting the readers to read the next book but because the characters has more exciting stories to tell. And even without the cliffhangers, I personally still read these novels of Defy series simply because I care for the characters that I am so eager to know what’s their next adventure.
All in all, IGNITE is a thrilling and intense sequel to DEFY. Sara B. Larson is up on her game of giving us a new fantasy series to love. The stakes are higher, villains are more irritating, and actions and plot are more intense. This series is definitely a must read for YA fantasy lovers.
*This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Sholastic Press Philippines in exchange for an honest opinion.