Defy by Sara B. Larson

The basics

Title: Defy

Author:

Series: Defy #1

- Defy (2014)
- Ignite (2014)
- Endure (2015)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

This summary of Defy was written by Lana, who is doing an amazing job of recapping this series! Read our recap if you need to remember what happened in Defy.

in short

After the attack on her village and the dead of her parents, Alexa disguises herself as a boy and joins the army as a member of the elite guard of crown prince Damian. After many attacks on the palace, one of which kills her brother, Prince Damian along with Alexa and Rylan (her best friend/another guard) are abducted and brought to Blevon, the enemy kingdom. There, Alexa finds out that Damian planned to be abducted in an attempt to overthrow his father and become king. Alexa, who is believed to be gifted due to her father being a sorcerer, starts training with a sorcerer named Eljin in order to kill King Hector’s advisor and black sorcerer Iker. Meanwhile, many find out she’s a girl and Alexa struggles with her feelings for both Prince Damian and Rylan. During the battle, a lot of comrades die but Alexa manages to kill Iker, but not before he burns her entire left side. Prince Damian reveals himself to be a sorcerer too and kills his father, then calls for a cease-fire and becomes king. In his coronation speech, he kneels before Alexa (along with everyone else) and thanks her for saving the entire nation.

what happened in Defy?

  • Alexa’s village is attacked by an evil sorcerer and her parents are killed. Marcel (her twin brother) cuts off her hair so she can disguise herself as a boy (becoming Alex) to join the army instead of being put into a breeding house.
  • Both Marcel and Alexa manage to get a position in the elite guard of Prince Damian.
  • Alexa is forced by Iker (the King’s advisor) to lead a group of orphan girls into a breeding house, but she panics and flees thus disobeying a direct order. Marcel takes the punishment of ten lashes to protect his sister.
  • The next day the palace is attacked. Marcel and Alexa pursue the attackers into the jungle. Alexa manages to kill both assassins but not before one shoots Marcel. He dies.
  • An assassin named Tanoori, disguised as a maid, (who was once the weaver’s daughter of Alexa’s village) tries to kill Prince Damian but the guards save him in time. Alexa has to interrogate Tanoori, who knows she used to be Alexa. With the promise of keeping her secret, Alexa vows to try make her death quick.
  • Alexa is tasked to be the personal bodyguard of the Prince after the attempt on his life. She starts to have feelings for him as it seems he is pretending to be someone else too.
  • The competition to replace Marcel’s position in the guard is held. One of the contestants (Eljin) uses magic to block Alexa’s jabs but then loses on purpose, leaving Alexa unsure of what to do.
  • Prince Damian and Alexa bond over the deaths of their brothers. He asks her to deliver a message from him to the Insurgi (the rebel group who killed his brother/mother). She agrees and takes Rylan (another guard and her best friend) with her into the jungle the next day. They are ambushed.
  • When she wakes up in the rebel camp, she meets Borracio (their leader) and gives him Damian’s message. When she’s escorted out, she fights her way free and takes refuge in the jungle where she’s attacked by a jaguar and is badly hurt. Rylan manages to save her in time. When he wants to dress her wounds, he admits he’s known all along that she’s a girl.
  • Borracio finds them and brings them back to their camp. Alexa is healed by a sorceress. They are set free to make their way back to the palace.
  • Once there, Alexa finally tells Deron (their captain) about Eljin. He reveals that Tanoori, who was supposed to be hanged that morning, was rescued by Eljin.
  • That night, the palace is attacked again. During the fight, Prince Damian, Rylan and Alexa are abducted.
  • Once they are healed from their wounds, Lisbet (a sorceress) reveals Alexa’s secret to Damian, but it turned out he knew all along that she was a girl. They all have a heart to heart and Damian decides they will not try to escape until they find out who is behind the abduction.
  • Among the rebels, Alexa meets Jax (Lisbet’s son) and she also encounters Tanoori again and they rekindle their friendship. Meanwhile Alexa struggles with her feelings for both Rylan and Prince Damian.
  • The group travels to Blevon. They are ambushed (again) this time by the Antion Army, not knowing that they are fighting their own Prince. Eljin saves them all, but Tanoori is badly wounded. They make a stretcher to bring her along until the next stopping place where Lisbet tries to heal her.
  • Rylan confesses his feelings for Alexa, but she doesn’t know how to deal with this. With the pressure coming from all sides, Alexa flees into the jungle. Damian runs after her. They kiss. Rylan interrupts them and storms of in anger, knowing what just happened between them.
  • Later, Rylan kisses Alexa as well and while she enjoys it, her mind and heart belong to Damian. Rylan vows to always be there for her, even when Damian will eventually break her heart. He’ll be waiting.
  • When they arrive in Blevon, they are roughly handled as prisoners of war. But once they are alone with General Tinso (Eljin’s father), all pretenses fall away. Their robes are cut, and Prince Damion is welcomed into their home. It’s clear that Damian had planned to be abducted all along and decided to bring Alexa and Rylan so King Hector wouldn’t kill them for failing to protect him.
  • Prince Damian reveals to General Tinso that he believes Alexa might be gifted: her father was a sorcerer with the ability to fight, and he passed that on to his daughter. General Tinso and Eljin agree to train her because Damian wants a guard who can defeat a sorcerer to help him overthrow his father to end the war with Blevon once and for all.
  • They keep up the guise to be prisoners and while in their cell, Damian confesses that his mother was a sorceress from Blevon (King Osgand’s niece) and that she wasn’t murdered by a sorcerer from Blevon as everyone thinks. His own father poisoned her for months to weaken her and then cut her down in front of Prince Damian and his brother.
  • Damian also reveals that his father raped Lisbet and that little Jax is his half-brother. And that Iker is not only the King’s adviser, but also a black sorcerer.
  • Eljin starts training with Alexa. Damian wants her to kill Iker, so he can kill King Hector and stop the war.
  • After two weeks, they make plans to go back to Antion. Alexa is sent two days before anyone else to deliver the message that the Blevonese army is coming with Prince Damian as their captive.
  • When Alexa delivers the news to the King, he’d rather give up his own son’s life than enter in a peace treaty.
  • Alexa is sent to the dungeons. Deron, with the help of Jaerom, frees her from her cell, though he and the remaining guard were maimed in the face for failing to protect the Prince during the abduction.
  • Alexa puts her trust in the remaining guard members to help her get close to Iker.
  • Iker kills Jaerom for freeing Alexa.
  • The Blevonese army arrives.
  • Alexa and Jude (Rylan’s brother) attack Iker. But he kills Jude with fire. Alexa’s entire left side is also scorched by the fire. She uses Jaerom’s dead body to protect herself from the assault. Iker thinks he killed Alexa, which is when Damion shows up again. While Iker is busy bragging about Alexa’s death, she jumps up and manages to stick her sword into Iker’s lungs, eventually killing Iker.
  • Prince Damian gives a speech and calls for a cease-fire. The fighting stops.
  • King Hector rushes forward to kill his own son, but is blocked by a magical shield. Because apparently: Damian is a sorcerer, too.
  • Damian kills the King. The battle is over.
  • Lisbet tries to heal Alexa’s burns, but it wasn’t normal fire that hurt her and it left a lot of scars.
  • Alexa feels unworthy to be queen and even though Damian loves her, she pushes him away. He orders her, as her king, to remain working as his personal guard and vows to win back her trust.
  • Time for the coronation. King Osgand (Damian’s Uncle) attends as well. Damian is crowned king, and in his speech he praises Alexa and kneels, along with everyone else, bowing to her and thanking her for saving the entire nation.

how did Defy end?

When they get back to the palace, King Hector rather forfeits his son’s life then signing the peace treaty with Blevon. Alexa’s put into the dungeon but Deron, with the help of Jaerom, saves her. Iker kills Jearom for freeing Alexa, which is when the Blevonese army arrives. Alexa and Jude go up against Iker, but Iker kills Jude with fire. Alexa’s entire left side is also scorched by the fire but she manages to use Jaerom’s dead body as a shield for Iker’s assault. Iker thinks he killed Alexa and is gloating when Damian arrives. When they are shouting at each other, Alexa jumps from underneath Jaerom’s body and manages to kill Iker, puncturing his lungs with her sword. Prince Damian then calls for a cease-fire but is ambushed by his father, King Hector. The King almost succeeds in killing Damian but he reveals himself to be a sorcerer too and plunges his sword into King Hector’s heart. In the aftermath, Alexa – now having a scarred left side – doesn’t find herself worthy to be Damian’s queen and she pushes him away. He orders her, as her king, to remain working as his personal guard and vows to win back her trust. Damian is crowned king and in his speech he praises Alexa and bows before her, along with everyone else, thanking her for saving the entire nation.

anything else

  • Antion: King Hector’s kingdom
  • Blevon: King Osgand’s kingdom
  • Dansii: a neighboring Kingdom
  • Breeding houses: houses where orphan girls are forced into a life of rape, attempting to breed as many new soldiers for the king’s army.
  • Black sorcerer: a rare type of sorcerer, the only type who can wield fire
  • Bloodroot: a plant used to help staunch the flow of blood in a wound OR if ingested by a sorcerer, it suppresses their magical abilities
  • Insurgi: the rebel group

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