Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

May Contain Spoilers

I love books set in ancient time periods, so I was frothing to get my hands on The Valiant.  Fallon is a female gladiator. What could be more exciting?  A lot, apparently.  This wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for, and I almost DNF’ed it at the beginning, but I persevered.  Ultimately, it was a lackluster adventure, complete with mean girls, a gross, flesh eating cult, and an unconvincing love interest.

Fallon is kidnapped by slavers on her 17th birthday, after witnessing the murder of her true love at the hands of his brother.  This wasn’t the start of her bad day; her father, instead of making her a warrior, betroths her to her true love’s older brother without her consent.  What a crappy birthday present! And to be kidnapped on top of that. Very Bad Day!

Fallon is taken to Rome, where she is sold to a gladiator school, owned by her hated enemy and the murderer of his older sister,  Julius Caesar .  While training, she is picked on by bullies, even while she manages to make new friends in arms.  She also catches the eye of a young Decurion, who is also the son of a senator.  I didn’t buy the instalove at all, and was very disappointed with that aspect of the story.

The fight scenes were fun, but everything leading up to them kind of dragged.  I thought Fallon was boring, and worse, gullible. And the ending – bah – I didn’t find it satisfying at all.  It all felt like sequel bait, so props for the setting and the time period, but the protagonist and the plot fell flat for me.

Grade: 3 stars

Review copy

About the book borrowed from my local library

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.