Well, I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this book. I mean, I had a feeling I would like it, and so while reading this book, I remembered how much I enjoy reading historical fiction that has to do with ancient Rome. (Perhaps this is because I took Latin in college and my professor was one of the THE coolest professors with a wealth of knowledge about this era.) It also had that forbidden romance trope is like the THING for me, and I’ll read almost every book with that trope in it. 🙂 Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts in coherent words, and I think that’s why I’ve delayed writing a review for it for a long time now, lol.
Title: The Valiant (The Valiant #1)
Author: Lesley Livingston
Release date: February 14, 2017
Length: 372 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, historical fiction
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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.”
What I enjoyed the most is Fallon’s spirit and her willingness to survive. Yes, there are close encounters, but she’s determined to become the best she can be, even more so after she discovers who Lady Achillea is, the woman who bought her at the slave auction and the owner of the training school. I liked all the characters, too, and I love how we meet important historical figures as well, such as Julius Caesar himself, and the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra. I liked the friends that Fallon made, and how, overall, she seems like a genuinely good person. Of course, I didn’t mind the romance at all. She meets Cai, a Roman soldier and son of a senator. Although Fallon has a bit more freedom than an average slave, she’s still a slave, so any romantic relationship between her and someone like Cai is still taboo.
Fallon proves herself to be a capable warrior, but the author does show that Fallon isn’t flawless. I think most of her struggle is internal, her fight with her goddess, the Morrigan, and her feelings for Cai, along with her desire to fight and win (yet against?) Caesar makes her all the more interesting. I hope her plan to free herself and return home doesn’t backfire, and I hope Fallon comes across more opposition in the next book. Truthfully, I wished this book was longer. I loved immersing myself in this world, and I’m excited to return to it as well.