Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
The Valiant #1
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: #booksfortrade
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 372

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival. 
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, "The Valiant" recounts Fallon s gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire."

Fallon is a princess of the Cantii tribe. She has been training since she was young to be a warrior in her father's war band. On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, she should be taking her place among the war chiefs, but instead, she is kidnapped by slave traders and brought to Rome to be sold.

On her trip to Rome, she is in a caravan with other slave girls and she meets Elka, a fierce girl who was sold by her mother so that their tribe would have less mouths to feed. They promptly start off hating each other, but quickly become friends. They're even sold together when the slave traders find out that they're both decent fighters.

They are both sold into a ring of gladiatrix fighters run by Lady Achillea for Julius Caesar. Fallon has to work hard to earn her place with Lady Achillea. She quickly becomes one of the best and someone doesn't seem to like that very much because someone starts to mess with her.

Fallon is such a badass. She's a warrior, she's determined, strong, fierce, kind, caring. After being sold into slavery, she's stripped of her title as daughter of a king. She has nothing except her honor. She is no one. But it makes her determined to be the best gladiatrix she can be so that she can earn enough winnings to buy back her freedom. I really liked her as a main character.

I don't really know what I think of the romance. There are two separate love interests in this book, but there is no love triangle.

I don't really know if I would count this as a spoiler or not because it happens in like the first three chapters, but if you really don't want to know too much, maybe skip this next section?


In the beginning of the book, you meet Mael. He and Fallon have just confessed their love for each other pretty much and made plans to tie the knot after she joins her father's war band. But this is the beginning of the book and clearly nothing is going to go as planned. 

He quickly meets his untimely end in this book. I really question what the purpose of including him in the book at all was. He didn't really do anything and the book would be exactly the same without him ever having been in it? His death isn't even really a motivating factor for Fallon. She doesn't even seem to mourn him as much as I would have expected? Granted she's kinda got bigger things on her mind, but still.

To be perfectly honest with you, I just feel like he's probably going to end up coming back. Don't they ALWAYS end up coming back? His inclusion in this novel will literally be completely pointless if he doesn't ever end up coming back.


The other love interest, the MAIN love interest, is actually a Roman soldier. Which is super odd. I don't know how I feel about it. Like there's the shameless part of me that was screaming, "KISS!!" everytime they had a scene together. But at the same time, Fallon falls for him entirely too easily.

It's super insta-lovey in my opinion. Like, they barely interact at all in the book! She violently swings a sword at him once and he just goes weak in the knees? And Fallon HATES the Romans and she's just going to fall for one THAT easily?

I'm sorry. I don't buy it.

But I still want them to do ALL the kissing. I don't even care.

I feel like the main relationship in this book is the bond between the gladiatrices. They are a sisterhood. They live together, they fight together, they root for each other. I feel like that sisterhood is mentioned so much in the book, but it's not shown enough. I feel like it was pushed to the background a lot to show more of the weird romance.

I want more of the sisterhood relationship. I want more Fallon and Elka. I want more Fallon and Lady Achillea. If the romance is going to be a big thing, I want it to have more substance!

Besides that romance situation, the only thing I can really think of about this book that I didn't really care for was the subplot. It's like there's someone out to get Fallon, but there isn't enough going on there for it to even be a part of this book. It could be an interesting conflict, I can see the appeal of it. But there's so little attention paid to it, this could seriously be the same book without that subplot.

OH, also!! This book takes place over the course of many weeks/months. I can see the point of skipping a lot of things, but this book is about FEMALE. GLADIATORS. There are only two real battles that you get any real details about. I think that we're to believe that the girls fought in many matches before Caesar chose who would be in his Triumphs reenactment thing. But we don't get to see them! I would think there would be more of that in a book about lady gladiators!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! If you are looking for a book with badass female characters and a sisterhood of female gladiators, you would like this book! If you want a book about Ancient Rome, this book might also be for you! I would recommend this book and I'm excited to see how things go in the sequel!



    xx Anisha (

    1. You definitely should read it! It was really good! I hope you love it if you get the chance to read it!

  2. LOL I also wanted them to do all the kissing XD So glad you liked this book! I really loved it :) Fabulous review!

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

    1. I was so conflicted because I didn't know what I thought about the romance, but my shipper heart was like, "KISSSSSS!" It was confusing! Haha!

  3. Agreed that it was super insta-love which really made me not care about either of them. I'm happy you were able to enjoy the badassery though!

    1. Like that relationship was so weird! I want more of the relationship between all the girls! But yes, the badassery was quite good.

  4. I've been hearing so much about this book from bloggers. Everything looks awesome except for the insta-love! :)


    1. The insta-love is definitely the only real down I found to this book. Relationships need more substance than that!

  5. YAY, 4 stars is good! I adored this book to pieces. I highly doubt Mael is coming back - he seemed pretty dead to me? But who knows. I think even if he came back, he wouldn't have a chance. Which is cool, because I liked the ~other~ love interest a lot. ;) I am nervous about The Defiant, but also very excited.

    Great review, Cyra! Have a lovely weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Part of me feels like he's just dead, but part of me feels like, literally what was the point of including him in the book if he doesn't play a bigger part than that??? That's probably the biggest thing I think about about this book! I like the other romance too even if I feel like it's not in character for Fallon. Haha!


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