Format: E-Galley, 372 pages
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Princess. Captive. Gladiator. Always a Warrior
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.
"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once." Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
The Valiant is the first installment in author Lesley Livingston's The Valiant series. It is a series set during the time of the Roman Empire with Gaius Julius Caesar in charge. Most of us, I think, have seen the movie Gladiator with Russel Crowe, yes? Well, think of this series as a gender swap of that movie. Instead of sweaty hot men fighting in an arena for their freedoms & for revenge, this series features some hardcore female Gladiatrix's who fight against each other for the right to earn money and to buy back their freedom.
In the first installment, the author introduces readers to our protagonist 17-year old Fallon, the youngest daughter of Virico, a Celtic King from Prydian, which is actually Britannia. Ever since her eldest sister Sorcha died fighting against Caesar's legions, Fallon has been eager to train hard, and take her place as a Contii warrior. She's even tried different stunts in order to prove her worth as a warrior and carries her sisters sword. But, when her birthday arrives, her father has other plans for her. These plans ultimately leads to betrayal, murder, and a disheartened Fallon who just happens to fall into the arms of slavers, one of whom decides that Fallon should be shipped off to Rome.
Fallon has to face a whole lot of challenges, a whole lot of hurtful pride from others, and a serious of adversaries who would love to see her fail miserably. But, our Fallon is not that kind of girl. She's fierce as they come. She knows what she wants from life, and life can just get the hell out of the way if she has anything to say about it. She fights like nobody's business. And, she has Morrigan, the Goddess of war & death, watching over her. Fallon's journey is filled with realistic action and adventure. Nothing is easy for Fallon, not even while trying to survive her training, especially when someone makes an effort to put dead things in her quarters. But, as I said before, Fallon is not going to just wade away, and become anything other than the warrior her sister was.
The most interesting part of this series is that the author has done some factual research which seems to prove the existence of these female gladiators. Whether or not this story would be considered Historical Fiction, is to be determined. There is so much to talk about and love about this story. There are other characters who I loved as well. I loved Elka who comes along with Fallon to Rome and becomes her best friend. Their banter is humorous and I appreciated the fact that two women could be friends, without making it sexual in nature, or a rivalry. I also adored Caius Antonius Varro, Cai, who becomes sort of a lifetime for Fallon, and also a romantic interest even thought she could get in deep trouble for crossing the line.
I will say, without spoilers, that there are some very interesting twists in this book, especially after Fallon and Elka arrive in Rome and are sold to the Gladiatrix school run by Lady Achillea. I also love the fact that whether you liked her or not, Cleopatra is an character who genuinely appreciates what Fallon is trying to do. She could have at any moment said something and Fallon would have been sold off to someone much harsher.
I definitely say that this is one of the best books of 2017 and yes, I know we are only in February! I am eager to read the sequel to this story. Lastly, I offer a HUGE Thank you to HarperCollins Canada who approved me for this title. I appreciate you guys so much! Seriously!