The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston

Posted On 20 February 2017

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thevaliantThe Valiant was one of my weekend reads and a book that I couldn’t put down. I have a bit of a hit and miss record with YA.  Quite often I find that the story lacks the attention to detail that I enjoy and that I feel helps to build the world and on top of that love triangles and instalove more often than not are the flavour of the day.  Fear not in terms of either of those quibbles when picking up this book.  Livingston has bought to us a gripping story about a young woman who, against her own will, becomes a gladiator.  This is well written, uncluttered and fast paced.  The characters are well drawn, particularly the leading lady and on top of all of that it brings the opportunity to read a highly entertaining narrative set in a period of time that I really enjoy reading about.

The story begins with an introduction to Fallon as she trains out in the country with her childhood friend Mael.  Mael and Fallon’s relationship has grown over the years and both of them have feelings of love for each other.  Fallon, however, is determined to follow in the footsteps of her sister Sorcha.  Sorcha was killed in battle, fighting the Romans.  Fallon longs to be part of her father’s war band and on the day of her 17th birthday she believes her wishes will finally come true.  Unfortunately for Fallon things go deeply amiss and although I won’t spoil for you the whys and wherefores Fallon finds herself captured by slavers and shipped off to Rome to be sold to the highest bidder.  One minute Fallon thought her dreams were a hair’s breath away and the next she was snatched from her world and everything she knows.

So, Fallon is sold to a school for gladiators – nothing could offend her honour more.  Worse than that – the school is directly owned by Julius Caesar, a man who Fallon despises and blames for the death of her sister.  Fallon finds herself trying to survive in a school which, in spite of the veneer of sisterhood, has fierce rivalries bubbling just beneath the surface.  Through no fault of her own Fallon finds herself on the receiving end of some rather harsh attention from the other females of the school and although you might expect her biggest challenge to be surviving in the gladiator’s arena it some becomes apparent that Fallon will first of all need to survive the training!  On top of that Fallon has attracted the attention of one of the Roman soldiers and much to her dismay she finds herself becoming attracted to him in return – I will stress, that this romance is not an integral part of the book, it isn’t the main focus of the story and is really well paced! (Just thought I’d chuck that out there).

Why did I love this.  I think that the author has managed to find the perfect balance in so many respects.  Her writing gives you a flavour of the Roman empire without being over burdened with flowery prose or heavy descriptions.  She throws in characters that we know about already such as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra but shines a slightly different light on their characters.  Her main character Fallon, is very easy to like.  She’s also incredibly foolish and gullible sometimes but nobody’s perfect after all!  Fallon struggles with her training, she has some ability as a fighter but is in no way perfect.  What she does have as a character is ‘heart’.  She’s been raised as the daughter of one of the Celtic Kings and as such she has a certain demeanour that refuses to be brow beaten.  She simply has spark and I really enjoyed that about her.  Livingston also has a way with words when it comes to the fight scenes.  They’re easy to imagine and frankly exciting to read.  She knows when to draw a line and not labour the point and I just really enjoyed that she sometimes had to make Fallon rely on her wits as well as her fighting prowess.

I really enjoy reading novels set in this period and on top of that the idea of female gladiators just really appealed to me.  I confess that I went into this story expecting to a certain degree to love it – but – I wasn’t expecting it to take me by storm and give me a protagonist, a bunch of surrounding characters, a setting and a plot that surpassed my expectations and that I fell easily in love with.

Perfect pace, unpredictable plot, polished writing and plenty of action.  I loved it – can you tell??  Sign me up for No.2!

In terms of criticisms.  None.  Okay, this is not a fantasy book.  Dragons do not sweep across the horizon and there is no magic.  I guess the only fantastical element could be the inclusion of female gladiators – although there does appear to be some evidence that they did in fact exist!  But mythical creatures and the lack thereof aside I have no hesitation in recommending this.  It was absolutely compelling.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Edelweiss for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.



16 Responses to “The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston”

  1. sjhigbee

    Great review, Lynn. I really like the sound of this one – many thanks for sharing:)

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was so good. I loved it and I’m really pleased to discover there is a second!

  2. Nathan

    Not the first good review I have seen. I assumed it was fantasy though, I guess it is historical fiction instead? I gotta find the audio for this one in any case.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I suppose the female gladiator aspect of the story could be classed as historical fantasy or alternative history – although I did go and have a bit of a read up after I finished and I think there were some female gladiators – just not many.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Lisa @TenaciousReader

    Oh, I think I need this. I can be really hit or miss with YA as well, but this sounds like it could easily be a hit for me. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I used to really quite enjoy YA but more recently I seem to be a bit more grouchy in terms of the plots and world building – not to mention the focus always seems to be on the romance – which in some ways I don’t mind but then it becomes a little bit over used. This is so refreshingly good – it makes me want to pick up more YA – if only they could all be like this one.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I fully expected to enjoy this one as well but I didn’t expect to love it so much either. I found myself nodding along to everything you wrote, heck your reactions were so close to mine this could have been my review 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – it was such a good book. I definitely want more of Fallon.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    I didn’t realize this one wasn’t a fantasy book, so thanks for the heads up! It sounds absolutely amazing from what I’ve heard, and an uncluttered yet detailed YA historical with a badass leading lady is just what I’m in the mood for. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      OMG – it’s so good. I think you will love it and I can’t wait to see what you make of it.
      Lynn 😀

  6. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    “taken by storm”: there could be no better – nor more encouraging – description for your reaction to this book 🙂
    This title had already crossed my attention threshold, but now you convinced me to upend my reading schedule and get to it as quickly as I can.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I can’t wait to see what you make of it – literally I read it in one day. We just didn’t eat and no chores were done! But eating and chores are sometimes (all the time) greatly overrated – especially when there’s a good book involved.
      Lynn 😀

  7. Tammy

    This is the second or third glowing review I’ve read, so now I’m convinced that I need to read this. Plus, female gladiator! How can you not love that idea:-)

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