Published: February 14th, 2017
Synopsis: Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. 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 and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.
Diversity: a lot of people from all over the world – specifically places that the Roman Empire conquered
Warning: slavery, violence that’s commonplace for the time period, death, some creepy unrequited love
The Valiant is an exciting story of love and war and clashing cultures told upon the backdrop of Ancient Rome and their favourite past time, the gladiators. More specifically female gladiators.
That’s what sold me on this book in the first place. I was in the mood for some badass ladies taking part in some gladiatorial combat. It didn’t disappoint. The entire story, in one way or another, is about Fallon’s strength – her physical strength, as well as her emotional and mental, and it is this which make her such a good protagonist in which to experience this story from.
She brings this air of power and ferocity that never paints her as a victim. Regardless of what is happening to her, she is not the victim. She will not allow herself to be. So she fights. She pushes through adversity and finds her own way. She finds freedom is a situation it would be assumed impossible. She finds family in the faces of strangers. She makes a name for herself, using her captors’ indulgences against them.
The background characters are unique in their own way. They give their own perspective to this strange and arguably broken world and they all have their own contradictions that make them engaging to read about.
And this world that Livingston has formed is brilliant. Her words bring this historical world to life, and it was really easy to picture each moment of Fallon’s journey to Rome and her time in the Ludus. She combines fact with fiction so effortlessly that every part seems plausible and real.
A positive of this book was the depiction of relationships between friends and family and lovers. There are rough edges and tough beginnings but they are overcome. The theme of sisterhood and what that means – sisters through blood and through sweat – is strong throughout the entire piece and it’s such a nice thing to read about.
The romance within this piece was enjoyable. It wasn’t overshadowing of the main story, and while I do believe affection happened quite quickly, it wasn’t off-putting. Fallon had her reservations – genuine and understandable ones – and Cai had his own obstacles to get over. They deal with cultural differences and old prejudices. There was an emphasis on an appreciation of the ability to defend one’s self, especially from Cai to Fallon, which was nice to read about.
However this book skirted some of the gray areas that would arise between their opposing stations that ultimately would allow for a form of power imbalance, I have hopes that Livingston will address this in more detail – allowing more of Cai’s world into the story.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Good writing, good characters, badass ladies, and gladiators – what’s not to love?