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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Immortal Defiance by Laura Maybrooke is the first book in the author's epic fantasy war series, Dulcea's Rebellion. Betrayed from among her own, Queen and Silver Elven Dulcea Lightbringer is kidnapped. The worlds are at war and her captivity with the Saruseans - the enemy - changes unexpectedly as she is condemned to die. She becomes the prisoner of the immortal vampire Lord Krath. The book alternates between Dulcea's and Krath's points of view, the two being polar opposites in every conceivable way, although the motives of Dulcea are far more clear than those of Krath. She is, after all, still his captive and the dynamic plays to build on Dulcea's strength, resilience, intelligence, and leadership alongside one who has many, many lifetimes of experience and the power and knowledge to harness them and soar toward unimaginable heights.
Laura Maybrooke is to be applauded for world-building that is as profound as it is deep and layered in Immortal Defiance. The complexity of the backstory and tying it all together at the height of a six-year war is at a level that is rare in a genre full of cookie-cutter romance over fantastical substance and intrigue. I mean this as a compliment to the author, but warn those who prefer the latter that they might get lost in frequent flashbacks and lots of talk of war. When a book starts with maps and a glossary, a dedicated reader of epic fantasy classics will get goosebumps and a definite thrill. I fall into this category and found both the writing and the slow-burn to be deliciously well done. Maybrooke works at building, building, building toward a romance that is secondary to the mission of its lead characters, and in doing so allows the story and the characters to unfold at their own pace.