I am a part of the Shift Blog Tour (my post goes up Friday!), and Defy is book 1 in the Firstborn series by Raine Thomas. My post Friday, for Shift will be all about the new book 2. I thought it would be important to read the first book in the series before doing a blog stop for book 2…And I’m so glad I did.
What really makes Defy stand out is the intricately thought out world it takes place in. The characters all live on the Estilorian plane, a world filled with Estilorians (creatures that mostly look human except for markings that most of them have and none of them look older than forty and could pretty much live forever). They also can all fly and most seem to have other special abilities (such as the ability to turn into a panther or to make water out of nothing). And they are all divided up into classes that define what they look like (eye color!) and what they do (protect, travel to the human plane, lead, create, etc.)
This book mostly centers around Kynzesti, the newest class of Estilorians. They are half Estilorian and half human and not a lot of knowledge exists about what they are all capable of. And because their parents don’t really know what they are capable of either, the Kynzesti survive in an enclosed protected area with no contact with the outside world until they come of age at 18 and develop their wings. Tate, the main character, is tired of living in a protected world and when her cousin, Sophia, gets to leave to practice flying, Tate follows closely behind.
Unfortunately, Tate does not know a lot of things. For starters, her overprotective parents have been dreaming about her death that’s to take place that day. Also, after she escapes, her close-knit extended family is visited by elders who explain that there have been some brutal attacks and murders of young Estilorian women. It really isn’t Tate’s day because while spying on her cousin, she’s attacked by a Kragen (a dragon-like creature) and taken far away.
After some time passes, Tate’s family assumes her dead because they know how serious a Kragen attack can be and they have searched for her to no avail. Fortunately for Tate, her twin brother, Tiege, refuses to give up on her when he still feels mentally connected to her. He, along with Sophia, and some other family and friends then go off to find her, using the twins’ connection to help them. Tate is brought to a cave by the Kragen, and luckily something goes right for her when she is healed by Zachariah, friend of the Kragen. Zachariah has been living alone for decades, away from other Estilorians because of something that happened to him and refuses to stay in any one location for too long a period of time because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s alive.
He leaves with the Kragen, but when Tate wakes up in the cave after being healed, she and Zachariah develop a sort of telepathic bond even though technically they have never met. Tate survives the wild by using everything she has learned from her protective home. She is trained in fighting, in fishing, in strategizing, and in surviving. She uses what she knows and heads out hopefully in the direction of her family home. But when Tate’s story combines with the stories of the young women who are brutally attacked, and a group of Mercesti (the evil Estilorians) who are after an ancient, powerful scroll, and the whole world seems to be in danger, Zachariah goes against his instincts and does everything in his power to help protect Tate.
There’s murder, torture, adventure, survival skills, fighting, some sizzling romance, magical abilities, flying, growing up, and just so much fun in this book! Everything is so well thought out. I found the Estilorians fascinating! I loved the point of view shifts! At first I hated the point of view shifts because I would get so wrapped up in Zachariah’s story, I’d be pissed to leap right into Tiege’s story. But eventually, I grew to learn that each character’s stories were equally amazing, especially Tate’s. I could easily have read an entire novel in any of their points of view.
I loved how confident and strong Tate was! And I love how well matched she and Zachariah are (though he is so much older than she is…) I loved the other characters. I loved reading about the flying and the powerful scroll. There was some definite military type strategy happening here. And pretty much all out war was happening by the end! There was never a dull moment, and I read the whole thing in a day.
The only thing that got to me was all the new terms and long names I had to learn so quickly. I didn’t know that this book was an extension of a whole other series written by Raine Thomas. And you don’t need to read that other series to enjoy this book; I’m proof of that. I just have a feeling this book would be a lot easier to read right away if you had read the other series. There is a glossary in the beginning, which helped a little bit. It’s just that a glossary in an eBook is relatively irrelevant if you have a lousy memory. It took me some time to build up a general understanding of all these new terms, classes, and traditions.
But once, I got into the story a little bit more, it really didn’t matter to me. Like I said, I totally enjoyed and loved this book despite not having read the other ones. I’m already reading and loving the sequel! Look out for my blog tour post! And I have a feeling, I will be reading her earlier series soon too. I give this one a 9/10, and I highly recommend it to fantasy fans who love a good, strong female protagonist.