Author: Lesley Livingston
Genre: Young Adult | Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
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).
The Valiant was packed with bad ass women, but I could have used more background.
Plot: The Valiant and I started off on the wrong foot. It began in the midst of a high-stakes scene that immediately intrigued and flustered me. From there, Fallon must protect herself from a variety of dangerous situations and people are will later either prove to be friend or foe. As I've learned, these "high action, little characterization" books are not for me and I found myself just going with the flow of the story, not really feeling as though I were a part of it. It was a fine read, but nothing really captured my attention. My one major complaint that was a major plot point (that I assume will be explored in the second novel) was revealed at the 80% mark of this book. For me, that was too late in the novel to introduce anything new as I was expecting Livingston to wrap up some loose ends, not introduce more craziness.
Characters: As I mentioned, the characters didn't get as much love and development as I was hoping. All the women were exciting in the ring, but I found very little in regards to their motivation. The love story was an unnecessary addition as this could have very well just been Fallon's exploration of Rome and its dark corridors. I was interested in learning more about the villain, Julius Caeser, and while I liked his complex nature, I found that he could have explored a bit more as a man. But of course, that's why we have sequels!
Worldbuilding: The Valiant was unique simply because of its landscape. I have very little experience with Caesar's Rome and the gladiators (no judgment, I haven't even seen The Gladiator), so this was a welcomed introduction. I loved how global Livingston made her world and how she used language that would have been used during that time - and some Latin!
Short N Sweet: The Valiant will be a favorite with anyone who enjoys a wild ride, I; however, wanted a bit more from the characters.