Friday, February 17, 2017

Title: The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Series: The Valiant, book #1
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. 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, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, "The Valiant recounts Fallon's gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire."

The words "female gladiator" were the only ones I needed to read to know that this was going to be my kind of book. Also, just the fact that it's such an utterly different setting than I've seen in most YA of late made me that much more eager to read it.

The Valiant is full of fierce friendships and bitter rivalries and brutal battle scenes and it was LIFE. Guys always get to have the epic battles in books and movies, while the females usually have to sit on the sidelines and pray for their safe return. So, it was delightful to see the tables turned in this story. And the author described the fighting with such precision and imagery that it felt like I was right in the thick of things, like I was the one holding the weapon, waiting to meet my fellow gladiatrix in battle.

Despite how awesome the fight scenes were, I found the romance to be very...meh. Very take it or leave it, if you will. I wasn't really here for that, though. There was a sweet, new love that died a swift death when Fallon was picked up by slavers, but I found that one more believable than the relationship she develops with the Roman soldier who should, by all accounts, be her sworn enemy. I just felt like this pair never spent enough time together to develop the kind of longing and devotion that they seemed to have toward one another. Not when there were so many more epic things happening around them...and to them.

My only real qualm with this novel, though, was how predictable I found it. And that's probably my own fault, as I read quite a bit more than the average reader and it's made me a lot more observant. Also, I think it's hereditary. My mom can watch the first five or ten minutes of a show and tell you what's going to happen for the rest of the episode...and she's almost always right. You can imagine how much fun it was watching television with her growing up. :P

I can't believe this was my first Lesley Livingston novel! It surely won't be my last. I've had her backlist novels on my TBR forever, but I'm going to make a point to check them all out very soon after reading The Valiant. I've always loved Roman history. I even loved when we were forced to read Julius Caesar in AP English. So, I am here for more of Fallon and her gladiatrix pals. And yes, obviously to find out what Caesar's plans for her are.


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

LESLEY LIVINGSTON is a writer living in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of twelve books to date. Her first novel, WONDROUS STRANGE, was winner of the CLA Young Adult Book of the Year 2010, a White Pine Honour Book, shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Speculative Fiction, and in 2015 was named one of CBC’s “100 YA Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian”. DARKLIGHT, the second book in this series was a finalist for the Indigo Teen Read Awards. The concluding volume in the trilogy, TEMPESTUOUS, was a finalist for the Monica Hughes Award. These books have sold to more than ten countries to date, and WONDROUS STRANGE has been optioned for film/TV by Shaftesbury Films. Her other trilogies have both won the Copper Cylinder award for Young Adult fiction.

In addition to her books for teen readers, Lesley is also co-author of a Middle Grade series with Jonathan Llyr called THE WIGGINS WEIRD. The first book, HOW TO CURSE IN HIEROGLYPHICS was shortlisted for the CLA Book of the Year for Children Award and was longlisted for the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Young Readers Book of the Year award. It was also chosen as one of the selections for the 2016 First Book Canada All-Star Reading Challenge.

Lesley’s newest novel is a YA historical epic, THE VALIANT, which will be published in February 2017 by Penguin Razorbill (US) and HarperCollins (CAN) and tells the story of a 17-year-old girl’s journey from fierce Celtic princess to female gladiator and the darling of the Roman Empire.

For almost three years, Lesley hosted weekly late-night movie marathons on the nationally broadcast television show, SPACEBAR, as the Waitron-9000, a sparkly holographic waitress with an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure B-movie trivia. For almost two decades, she was a principal performer with Tempest Theatre Group, a Toronto-based Shakespearean theatre company.

Find Lesley:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. I also really loved this book! I'm so glad you enjoyed it too :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts :D

    Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles

  2. Ahh I need to read this book so badly! I managed to snag an arc myself back at YALLfest in November, but have yet to actually read it 😭 Your review is definitely motivating me to change that though 😂

  3. OH MY GOSH I CANNOT WAIT TO READ THIS! It sounds so cool and I love books with strong female characters and all the other reviews I have read about this book have been positive so I cannot wait!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

  4. I have been seeing this book everywhere lately and people have only good things to say about it. I love a kick ass female MC so I already was on board to read it, but now with all of the positive feedback I've been seeing I can't wait to pick it up! Great review, glad you loved it (except for maybe the romance. lol)

  5. Ahh one of my anticipated reads this year! Glad to hear it's worthy of all the hype. :D

  6. That gif is legit :D I can't wait to read this, I love book set in this time period and female gladiators is all I needed to hear too. Glad you enjoyed it despite the meh romance (which is a bummer!).

  7. Honestly, a book about gladitors is not something I'd usually pick up. But I loved Lesley's past books and I keep hearing such wonderful things about this book. I can't wait to read it after this review! I think I'll get the audiobook.


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