Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble The Book Depository IndieBound
Series: Yes, #1 in the series
Release date: February 14th, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Length: 372 pages
Source: ARC from ALAMW
Rating: *victorious Cantii war cry*

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.

Well, that was totally bad ass.


I didn't love the start of this--in fact, this is by no means a perfect book, but it is bloody and breakneck and high stakes-y (so a word) and blockbuster-y (so also a word), and from the moment Fallon is captured I was hooked. I want this as a TV show. It's fast-paced and wicked, and full of ladies who kill and stab and punch and shout war cries and I WANT TO BE A BAD ASS GLADIATRIX SISTER WARRIOR, she says, lying in her bed eating a donut.

(Fun fact: I totally accidentally titled this post The Valium instead. Just, like, imagine THAT one for a second.)

The characters aren't the deepest things in the world, but Fallon is ferocious and my fave was Elka, nordic crankypants warrior goddess. The plot is really fast in a really great way. There's always a THING happening, which makes this feel like a blockbuster movie in the best way. I did see most of the twists coming, especially (highlight for spoiler: that Lady Achillea is her sister, which is so obvious I'm REALLY GLAD it was revealed early-ish in the story) because I have read a book before, but a few were definitely not what I expected (highlight for spoiler: UM, THEY WANT TO EAT HER?!?!?!?! ).

Fallon's journey as a gladiatrix is, again, not the deepest, most visceral journey ever (not helped by the very modern first person voice), but I totally dug her. She's sharp and fiery and just TOTALLY 
BAD ASS. I really did like the internal lessons she had to learn and concessions she had to make as she matured from a rebellious princess to a gladiatrix learning to play Rome's game.

The weakest aspect is probably the romance, not that I don't like Cai--he's probably about the nicest Roman soldier you ever will meet--but it's all very QUICK and you know me, I like to suffer the sloooooww burns. (Also, like, is every book boyfriend EVER named some variation of Kai now?)

But the best thing about this book is just the CONCEPT AND THE SETTING. Ancient! Roman! Gladiatrixes!!! Julius Caesar and Cleopatra and Rome in all its wine and sin and (literal) backstabbing! And front stabbing! And side stabbing! And lots of stabbing!!! (Highlight for spoiler: THAT HAND THING WAS REALLY GROSS) FEMALE GLADIATORS BEING STABBING MACHINES AND LOOKING HOT AS HELL IN THEIR ARMOR

yaaas bitch stabbity stab

I'm a huge history geek, so I always love reading about yesteryear, but for some reason Ancient Rome has never been one of my geek topics. Not that I don't think it's awesome, but I don't know EVERYTHING about it like I do other periods, so it was super fun for me to get plopped into it and told all about cool stuffs I never knew. Also HELL if I know a thing about Celtic-era Prydain. Basically, it was super cool to read about an era of European history I only know the basics of. I seriously know just enough about Julius Caesar to be REALLY TENSE AND EXCITED ABOUT THE NEXT FEW BOOKS (highlight for spoiler if you've never opened up a history book in your life: because, um, I know how and when he dies, and the shit will hit the FAN, YO) and basically, this was a blast. TWO CAESAR THUMBS UP.

Yes I know that's not Caesar and that's only one thumb but just work with me


  1. WOW. Female gladiators? That sounds awesome!

  2. YESSSS ALL THESE GLADIATOR GIFS!! And that Pepsi gif is a gd classic. But seriously, I wanted this book the moment I heard about it and your review (as usual) makes me want to read it ASAP. I love books that read like movies! Sometimes a popcorn movie in book form is exactly what is needed. And it's funny because I really love ancient Rome as a setting, but I don't know the history as well as other periods either so I get to be surprised more often, which is fun. Yay for badass Fallon :D

  3. Wow, so I was a little on the fence about this one not being convinced that this was going to be nearly as awesome as it sounded. NEED THIS NOW.


Note: comments on posts older than 90 days are automatically moderated, so they won't show up here immediately. Thanks for commenting! :)