Author: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Format: paperack ARC
Source: HarperCollins Canada
Summary: The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.
On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant. (Goodreads)
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion.*
Where do I even start with this? Ancient Rome, mythology, lady gladiators…I’m here for all of this book.
I don’t read a ton of historical fiction but when I heard that there was going to be a book about a female gladiator set during the reign of Caesar I knew I needed it. (Fun fact: although my bachelor degree is in Spanish, my original program was Classical Studies so this was right up my alley!) The Valiant was everything that appeals to me about studying this time period and more. I loved the mix of the historical tidbits with a story that grabbed me firmly by the feels.
The characters were also great. While I did enjoy the fierceness of Fallon and her determination and loyalty to herself, her family, and her heritage it was Elka and Cai that stole the show for me. Elka is such a firecracker and becomes such an incredible and fiercely loyal friend. I remember thinking the whole time that I wanted her to be my own friend. Then we have Cai; Badass Roman with a heart of gold (or at least he’s not as bad as Fallon wants him to be to fit her idea of Romans). As a whole, however, I found the entire cast of characters in The Valiant to be very compelling; from the main characters to all the supporting ones as well.
The story itself wasn’t totally what I was expecting but I still loved it. As this is a book about female gladiators, I went in thinking that there’d be tons of battle scenes but there wasn’t much of it until later in the book. The plot was intriguing enough for me that having less fighting than anticipated wasn’t really a big downside. I was drawn into the scheming, danger, and political intrigue rife within this story of Rome and the real history of the Roman Empire. I went in looking for a book about tough ladies kicking ass and came out with a bit of that and so much more.
I adored everything about The Valiant. While I didn’t exactly get what I went in expecting from the book, I came out with a story that gave me more than what I’d hoped for and just what I needed. The Valiant gave me history, tough young women, strong female friendship, scheming, mythology, swooning, and adventure and I loved every second of it!