Review: The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston

Published: February 14th 2017 by Razorbill
 Rating: 3 out of 5


Available from: DepositoryBarnes and Noble



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.



A book I've been wanting to read for a while is The Valiant. I love history and anything to do with the Roman era so a female gladiator? Bring it!

The story starts with Fallon, (not sure how Celtic that name is, but still). She's a tribal kings daughter, practising an attack move involving her friend, Mael, a chariot and spear. The move called Morrigan's Flight wasn't ever perfected by Fallon's brilliant deceased sister, who Fallon worshipped, but Fallon believes she can do it. It involves running along a pole and throwing the spear at a target, while standing between the horses.Fallon fails but her friend Mael suddenly gets all concerned when Fallon falls beneath the chariot and narrowly misses out on death. They've been friends since children, and now a different kind of edge to their friendship arises from Fallon falling from the attempted attack move. Mael kisses her, and Fallon understands that she's deeply attracted to Mael, and she never realised it before.

That night at the ceremony to announce her possible joining of her fathers war band, Fallon is unexpectedly forced into a marriage arrangement with Mael's older brother, Aeddan, who is head of his own tribe. She knows she can't reason with her fathers decision so she rips off all her jewellery denoting her station as princess, and plans to run away with Mael. But Aedden gets to her first. Mael and Aedden fight, and Maels is mortally wounded. Now Fallon knows she has no choice but to run. But before she gets far she's knocked on the head by a stranger. She comes to in a boat, and despite her protests, she knows she's been captured by a slaver. Her fate is now in her own hands. She can try to escape and return home, to a marriage with a man she doesn't love and who murdered her new found love, or she can see where this road takes her. In the next months, she actually becomes friends with the slave master, called Charon, who takes a keen interest in her welfare despite the chains that now mark her neck and wrists. She also makes some friends and enemies amongst the other slave girls. Fallon proves her strength of character and never falls short of her desire to kill Julius Caesar, the man who killed her sister.

Eventually, Fallon and her friend Elka, are paraded to be bought at a slave market. They are purchased by Lady Achillea who runs a ludus, a fighting school for female gladiators. The only thing is - the school is owned by Julius Caesar.

From here, Fallon has to prove herself in the arena. And must prove herself in the ludus amongst the other spirited women who also have to fight in the arena on a regular basis. It's a fight for survival.

Along the journey, Fallon meets Cai, a Roman Decurion. An officer in the legion of Julius Caesar. He also singles Fallon out and gets close to her. Eventually with romantic inclinations.

Fallon is a strong character. Her indecisiveness around Cai is understandable because of her hewn hatred for the Romans, but she shows compassion when she gets to know him. He is only a man after all, and no one can help where they come from in the beginning. Fallon also discovers the truth about her sister, and some more truths about her father. But mostly, Fallon lives her life in the Ludus and becomes a really strong warrior.

This is the part where I get stuck. Because amongst all of this that has happened, which if I'm being honest, I saw straight out of Gladiator (even some of the dialogue is similar), there isn't an awful lot else that happens that is not clich├ęd or anything you haven't seen before, including the nasty girl and the hidden enemy who wants you dead.

As much as I was looking forward to Valiant, I didn't read anything that was completely original and beyond anything I'd heard or read before, which is a shame, because so much is known for the Roman era but also so little is known.

I am looking forward to the next book in this duology, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed at the end.



About the Author

LESLEY LIVINGSTON is a writer living in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of twelve books to date. Her first novel, WONDROUS STRANGE, was winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year 2010, a White Pine Honour Book, shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Speculative Fiction, and in 2015 was named one of CBC’s “100 YA Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian”. DARKLIGHT, the second book in this series was a finalist for the Indigo Teen Read Awards. The concluding volume in the trilogy, TEMPESTUOUS, was a finalist for the Monica Hughes Award. These books have sold to more than ten countries to date, and WONDROUS STRANGE has been optioned for film/TV by Shaftesbury Films. Her other trilogies have both won the Copper Cylinder award for Young Adult fiction.

You can find Lesley Livingston here:


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