Thursday, February 23, 2017

[Review] The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Series: The Valiant
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 5 stars

Release Date: February 14th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

Female gladiators! Sisterhood! Friendship! Intrigue! History! With a touch of romance.

What a wonderful book I just read on female gladiators in Rome. It's the first time I ever read a book, young adult or otherwise, on the topic. And The Valiant did not disappoint. 

Our heroine, Fallon, is daughter of the Cantii chief Virico, from the isle of Prydain (aka Britain). She longs to follow in her deceased sister's footsteps as a war leader, but that plan is thrown awry when she is instead betrothed to her lover's brother. Tensions rise and she runs away... straight into the hands of a slaver,  Charon. But her story isn't over yet, and she's thrust into the hands of the enemy, Rome, to fight her way to freedom as a female gladiator.

Fallon was a delight to read. She was headstrong, feisty, and she always knew exactly what she wanted, and wouldn't let love come in between that. Numerous times she turned down guys' attempts to protect her or buy her contract... she instead came up with her own terms! She was truly powerful and honorable, and many of these traits carried her as a strong, unfailing heroine in her own right 
Furious, a part of me had been holding back and I gave myself over to the fight. I was a warrior. I was a gladiatrix. And if Caius Varro had come to me that day looking for a fight, by the goddess, he was going to get exactly that. 
Speaking of Caius, their relationship was exactly what I needed to read right now. Not too rushed, not too sappy. It just... made sense. It developed over time and wasn't forced. Plus, Caius sees Fallon as an equal, and vice versa.
"On that day, if you'll wait for me, I'll come to you, and we can be together as equals." 
And can I mention the sisterly bonds of friendship? I NEED MORE OF THIS. Elka's banter with Fallon were hilarious. The fact that the romance took a sidestep for the friendship was marvelous. Despite knowing these girls for a short time, we can definitely see how strong their bonds are.
Simple words, simple promises. The very same oath the men swore in their rings of sand and swords. We were no different - except we were. And no one was more surprised by that than me. We were castoffs and slaves, orphans and unwanteds and used-to-be princesses. We were infamia...
But we were a sisterhood.
"Uri, vinciri, verberari, ferroque necari."
And we were mighty. 
Finally, the incorporation of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar was apt and cleverly placed... the realm of female gladiators has to be explored more often!

With purposeful characters, action and friendship, powerful prose, and much more I dare not spoil, you'll definitely enjoy yourself with The Valiant.

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