Lovely Lead Lady With More to Offer

Buy it from Amazon, or from the publisher

Title: The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Type: Fiction
Genre: YA; Historical Fiction
Length: 372 pages
Published by: Razorbill (Penguin Random House)
Pub Date: Feb 14, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: I purchased this book from Amazon

My Rating: 3 stars

See other ratings and reviews on Goodreads, then check out the author’s website!

The short version: While a little predictable, I really enjoyed this book! I had been hoping for a little more out of it, but I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in strong lady leads and/or historical fiction!

The long version: (My synopsis)

 Uri, vinciri, verberari, ferroque necari

“I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.”

Fallon is fierce, independent, outspoken; everything you’d expect from a Celtic princess, the daughter of a war chief. But when, after losing her sister Sorcha and Mael, her best-friend-turned-lover, Fallon runs away, she finds herself kidnapped, taken to Rome, and sold into the enslaved life of a female gladiator. After she takes the gladiator’s oath, she discovers that rivalries are not always left in the arena,  and allies can come from unlikely places. As she learns to navigate the society deemed the heart of human civilization, she’ll need to re-evaluate her ideas of honor, family, and freedom if she is to survive Rome and become the darling of the Empire.

After reading the synopsis, and waiting months for this book after I pre-ordered it, I wanted to love Lesley Livingston’s The Valiant. I mean, I was promised lady gladiators, forbidden romance, and cultural conflicts, what’s not to get excited about? And, for the most part, The Valiant delivered.

One of the things I loved most was the sense of sisterhood and female friendship Fallon gets to experience. One of the other gladiatrices, Elka, becomes her closest friend, and it was a friendship I loved reading! It started off a little rocky, but I can’t really blame them; being kidnapped and sold as slaves is bound to make anyone a little bitter with the world. But once they come to depend on each other, their friendship develops into one where they support, challenge, tease, and protect each other. I really enjoyed the dynamic of their relationship.

Unfortunately, it was in Fallon’s relationship with others that I realized I wanted more from this book, like, another 150 pages or so more. When I got to the end of the book, I realized that it still felt like I, and Fallon, had just met Elka. I would have loved to see their friendship developed even further, especially since the experiences they shared will probably bond them forever.

And I felt the same way about Fallon and Caius. It was said over and over again that their romance was forbidden, that it could have dire consequences for them both, but we never actually see that. {SPOILER} I mean, Julius Caesar and an arena full of people saw them making out, and nothing happened. Where are these consequences, exactly? {END SPOILER} It doesn’t help that their relationship also seemed a little rushed. I get that fighting together probably creates some pretty strong bonds, but they have, like, two conversations before they start sending each other heart emojis.

But, perhaps most of all, I wanted more from the plot. We only see two of Fallon’s gladiatrix bouts; her first and her last. After the first bout, we’re just told that she made a bit of a name for herself {SPOILER} so much so that Caesar himself wants to speak with her and name her his gladiatrix {END SPOILER}, and are expected to believe that she has developed enough skill and a big enough fanbase to make it to the last bout. I would have loved to see the story slowed waaaay down so we could see a few more of those fights; I wanted to see Fallon earn the respect of her fellow gladiatrices, grapple with the prospect of fighting/killing other women for sport, and win, through skill and showmanship, the love of the mob. Instead, I felt there was a very noticeable and almost painful violation of the “show, don’t tell” rule.

I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it had started toward the middle and developed more slowly, and then maybe give us a prequel or novella to give us some of the exposition (Throne of Glass and its novellas are a great example of what I’m talking about). I think there was so much trying to establish who Fallon was that I didn’t get to see enough of who she is now.

Despite its flaws, this book kept me reading till the end, and I will definitely be reading its sequel.

Overall, I gave this book 3 stars:


Thanks for reading! If you have read or are planning on reading this book, let me know why and what you thought in the comments below!


4 thoughts on “Lovely Lead Lady With More to Offer

    • Thank you! Both for the award and your kind words! I’ll get to the award post ASAP

      And if you do end up reading The Valiant, I’d love to hear your opinion of it!

      Liked by 1 person

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