I recently went to a book signing, the penguin teen on tour. We went 100% for Alwyn Hamilton because I love her book Rebel of the Sands! (I just got the second one, so you’ll be seeing a review soon.) Lesley Livingston, Renée Ahdieh, and Natalie C. Anderson were also there. I had read Renée’s book, The Wrath and the Dawn, and I didn’t really like it… I had never even heard of Lesley Livingston or Natalie C. Anderson. But oh my! After hearing what The Valiant was about, I knew I had to read it! I bought a copy of it that night for a friend, who I knew would love it. It only took me a couple days to get through. That tour also made me want to read Natalie’s book, City of Saints and Thieves, so that’s on my to read list as well. But what did I think of The Valiant…
The Valiant is about Fallon, who is the daughter of a Celtic King. Due to some stuff going awry, she ends up in Rome as a slave. She is purchased by a gladiatrix school who are going to train her to fight for the glory of Julius Caesar her mortal enemy – the man responsible for the death of her sister. She makes some friends, falls in love, kicks butt, all that good stuff.
Fallon is really cool. She’s stubborn but smart. I was worried because so often female characters billed as being this badass often make dumb decisions in the name of honor or because they refuse to adapt to their situation. Fallon grows in this. At first she is dedicated to escape at any cost, but as she learns more about what is going on, she decides to stay. She does get tricked and makes a couple bad decisions, but I never thought, Wow Fallon, you know better than that. Her weakness is trusting people, which I can’t fault her for. She is also extremely badass. It was cool watching her train and learn.
Okay, so Cai, the love interest, actually develops. Once he falls for Fallon, he’s very concerned for her safety, obviously. She’s a gladiatrix, not exactly the safest profession for your girlfriend. But when he tries to prove to her, that she can’t do it, she proves him wrong. And he acknowledges it! And decides hey, I should support my girlfriend! What a crazy idea YA writers. *hint hint* He is so sweet though. He takes care of Fallon when she needs taking care of and he backs her up. Even though their relationship isn’t a great idea because of his position, he still does anything he can for her.
The love- Minor spoiler!
So Fallon loses her ‘love’ at the beginning of the book. She then struggles with losing him for the first third of the book before she starts falling for Cai. I loved how real that was. I hate in books when the completely attractive/likable girl has no boyfriend or no real love until the authors designated true love. That rarely feels realistic. This, although not realistic now, was realistic then. And it was nice watching Fallon grow and learn to love again.
Also, no love triangle!!
I can honestly say that there was one plot twist that completely shocked me. Those kinds of surprises are rare, and though you may get it faster than me, I loved it. The plot was also pretty fast paced, which was great. The ending wasn’t drawn out either. I’m getting really sick of YA novels (especially fantasy) where you have the main objective that the heroine is working towards for over half the book, and they keep failing. So they try it again a different way. Or they get new information that changes how they do it. The Valiant was fast paced and that ending was not drawn out for the sake of drama or intensity. Plus, Fallon is so sweet at the end, and it makes me so happy!!
The Violence –
If you can handle The Hunger Games, you can handle this. She’s a gladiatrix so obviously it’s going to get violent. It’s not as gory as I expected, which was fine with me. I can handle book gore a lot easier than in movies. But there was only one scene that was really gross.
Overall, it was fantastic read. My only beef is the writing. It’s not bad by any means. But after seeing how many other books Lesley Livingston has written, I expected more from it. It’s not bad, but this is more what I’d expect from an author early in their career, not a seasoned one. But overall, it’s a great read! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a kick-ass historical romance! The romance is pretty clean, so fine for younger readers.
So, go grab a copy of The Valiant today and let me know what you think of it!
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