A meld of science fiction, fantasy, and a post-apocalyptic society, the Defiance trilogy is a unique addition to the mass of post-apocalyptic YA fiction. It blends medieval or feudal concepts with a landscape almost out of Frank Herbert’s Dune, and tops it off with a rebellious yet fragile heroine, a tragically burdened and brilliant hero, two outcast siblings who are wickedly deadly, a twisted tyrannical villain with a deep-rooted blood war, and adds the possibility of imminent destruction at any moment. Bits of romance and moral reasoning are interlaced, making a gripping, yet surprisingly thought-provoking series that invites learning and repentance through some tough concepts of life, death, and consequences.
In Baalboden, a city-state under the unforgiving thumb of Commander Chase, Rachel Adams has just lost her father and been entrusted into the care of her father’s apprentice, and former crush, Logan McEntire. Rachel doesn’t believe her father, the best Courier Baalboden has, has died in the Wasteland, the wild land between the city-states scourged by the Cursed One, an underground fire-breathing dragon-worm. She will not rest in attempting to find him despite consequences of treason for disobeying Baalboden’s harsh laws for its citizens, especially its females. Her new Protector, Logan, is unprepared to take responsibility of a girl only a few years his junior, but understands her determination as it mirrors his own. When Rachel attempts to escape Baalboden to find her father, she sets in motion a deal with Commander Chase that changes all of their lives. At her Claiming ceremony, she must give Commander Chase authority over her or Logan will be killed. As it is, her own choice isn’t much better. She must travel into the Wasteland accompanied by one of Chase’s men to complete her father’s mission while Logan is beaten and thrown into prison. Rachel knows she might be rushing headlong into her inevitable death, but for a chance to save her father whom she knows is alive and save Logan from prison and death, she’ll do whatever it takes. Logan, though injured and rotting in prison, is nowhere near beaten, and he will attempt to move earth to save Rachel.
After Baalboden was destroyed by the Cursed One and Commander Chase is driven off, only a small fraction of its citizens are left alive. Since Logan showed such clear leadership when the city fell, the majority of the group elect him as their leader. Logan, still in possession of the device that is supposed to control the Cursed One, determines to lead the people to the nearest city-state that will shelter them, Lankenshire. Meanwhile, the refugees are fleeing an army led by their former Commander and an unknown assassin. While Logan carries the burden of leading the refugees and struggles with his own morals as well as trying to do everything in his power to protect them, he also battles his own past. Rachel attempts to help him, but her mental state is precarious. Her sins weigh heavily upon her and work to waste her away. It seems an impossible feat to outwit both the Commander and his army and the Rowansmark trackers that are assuredly following them, and convince Lankenshire that they deserve help, but even more so to discover the deceiver in their midst who is killing off their citizens one by one.
In this thunderous finale, Rachel is held captive by Ian, Logan’s brother who is hell-bent upon revenge, and two of Rowansmark’s trackers. They are taking her to Rowansmark as bait to entrap Logan and convince him to return the device to their leader. Logan, though torn between his love for Rachel and his duty, knows he must use his knowledge to save everyone rather than save one. His new path allies him with Commander Chase, and they team up to convince the other city-states to donate troops to an army. This army, led by Logan and the Commander, will destroy Rowansmark and its corrupted leader. Will Logan save Rachel in time? Will Commander Chase betray Logan’s trust? What other secrets are waiting to come to light?
A fantastic read that I couldn’t put down, and one I find it hard to sum up at all because there are so many great details. I loved how Rachel and Logan change throughout the series to become more than the scared, hunted citizens they were from the first book. Their actions change lives, change histories, and bring about a new beginning for the entire country. Though it takes place after great dragon(s?) destroy what used to be the United States, it is a rich imagining that begs to be picked up.
Note: Graphic violence.