Affiliate links are used in this post. For more about affiliate links, check my “about” page. In short, affiliate links are links to products that I discuss and want to share with you. By clicking on a link and purchasing a product through that link, I may receive a small commission, but it will be at NO extra cost to you!
I’ll admit, I had my fair share of doubts going into reading this. I typically find myself disappointed by historical young adult books. However, The Valiant by Lesley Livingston is a masterpiece that highlights the most interesting pieces of Roman culture while making unique in Livingston’s own way. I’ve honestly been scared to read this until now. I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it very much and it would turn out to be yet another boring, historically-based YA novel. BUT WOW. NO. This was entertaining. I liked it a lot, though I wouldn’t have been bothered if there was … more to it.
Despite the fact her legendary warrior sister Sorcha died recently in battle, Fallon has not so bad a life. She’s the princess of a Celtic king, bound to rule the Cantii tribe one day. And as her seventeenth birthday draws nearer, so does Fallon’s lifelong dream of joining her father’s war band.
However, things don’t go according to plan. And in the aftermath of disastrous events, Fallon is thrust right into enemy hands. Fallon is now the property of Julius Caesar, the very powerful Roman leader responsible for the death of Fallon’s sister Sorcha.
Now in Rome, a whole world away from what she knows, Fallon must fight for her life. She is now a female gladiator, owned by Julius Caesar himself. She must fight to survive, all the while being watched by blood thirsty Romans, eager for deadly entertainment. There are many hidden dangers and surprises that await in the world of Rome, and as Fallon fights to survive, she also fights to avenge the death of her sister.
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston displays the empowering bonds of sisterhood, the inner strength of those in a society set against individuality and freedom, and the sheer will to survive. This exciting YA book based on mighty female gladiators of Rome.
It was so fun to read about the Gladiator events in Rome.
At first I was scared that I would hate reading about this and that I would find it a boring subject, but wow. The story still entertained and intrigued me.I wish I could’ve read more about the Gladiator events, but they apparently were not a huge part of the story. While that was disappointing, I was still so intrigued by this story and finished it rather quickly.
Fallon’s character hasn’t developed much in my opinion, but I still very much like her personality.
As I will mention later, Fallon didn’t really develop as much as I would’ve expected, or as I’ve seen other characters develop in other novels I’ve read, but I’m hoping to see Fallon be a more deep and complex character in the next installment of this series.While I didn’t get to see much of Fallon’s character develop, I did get to know some of her personality, and I really liked it. She was noble, honorable, chivalrous, and selfless. Fallon was a good person, even in morally challenging situations, and I never had a moment where I thought she was a bad person. She had her flaws, she was not perfect, but she was a really good person despite all that so I definitely loved Fallon’s character.
None of the characters really seemed to be three-dimensional, other than Fallon who was slightly more developed as a character.
We, as readers, spend the whole novel inside Fallon’s head. We get to know her personality, values, and thoughts quite well. However, I still felt like I didn’t get to know her as well as a reader should get to know the main character. While I did get to know Fallon a little, I didn’t get to know any other characters at all. Maybe that was the fault of the author. Or maybe it was just because Fallon wasn’t the sort of person to go around creating deep bonds with others. Either way, readers are unable to fully get to know most of the characters in this novel. All I know is that all the characters seemed dull, and flat, and without a diverse personality.
There was not much bonding between characters, or fleshing out of relationships.
Fallon made a friend in Elka. And Fallon was also able to meet other friends throughout the book. She even had the chance to strengthen familial ties. But it never really happened. There was so much wasted potential!! Fallon never really bonded with other characters, and so I fear readers will never get to really know the characters. The synopsis of the book promises and advertises Fallon and Cai’s romantic chemistry. Yet I felt that Fallon and Cai have
little to no romantic chemistry.Actually, scratch that — they have no chemistry at all, romantic or not. It just didn’t happen. The so-called romance between the two came out of nowhere and didn’t really excite me as a reader at all. Hopefully this changes in the second novel.
I don’t really know how much of the plot actually happened.
So I was obviously, no doubt at all, entertained by this story. I flew through it and had little to no complaints. But as I settle down in the aftermath and take time to really think about the story and what happened and all that jazz, I’ve noticed that while it was so entertaining and different to read, the plot was really slow and nothing drastic or very consequential even happened. I think I’m okay with that? Because the story still entertained and satisfied me??? Buuuuuttt, I’m really hoping for some loose ends to be tied up in the next installment of this series, and I’m also hoping for the plot to pick up and for something other than waiting and fighting in arenas to happen.
Overall, The Valiant had a strong premise. The plot idea itself and the gladiator storyline was fun to read and very unique. It’s something new to the YA world, thank goodness. I think the romances, relationships, and character dimensions need improvement. I did enjoyed this, but I just don’t want to overlook the problems. I’ve noticed that now that I’ve calmed down from the excitement and elation I felt after finishing. I can’t really let that affect my rating, though it probably should’ve. I think despite some plot problems, lack of romantic chemistry, poorly formed and/or portrayed friendships / familial bonds, and flat characters everywhere I looked, I would still recommend this because if you just read it fast and don’t stop to contemplate and criticize every single page, I think that anyone could really enjoy this novel and its bloody arena battles!
Pin Gallery – Click the Pinterest Tab on the Lefthand Side and Instantly Pin Any of the Images Below
Chat With Me – Would reading more YA based on Roman Gladiator Arenas from the time of Caesar interest you? Are you ever scared you won’t like a novel just because it’s centered on an idea / situation / historical event etc. that you aren’t fond of or aren’t interested in? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below! And as always, if you have questions, want to rant & fan(girl/boy/person) over this book, etc. don’t be afraid to comment below!
If you liked this post, please check out more on my blog, or subscribe to get a weekly newsletter with exclusive content you can’t find here on the blog, as well as updates on my latest post! I promise I won’t spam!