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The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha's legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.
On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father's royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon's worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant.
Audiobook Received for Review in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
There’s something about the concept of female gladiators that immediately drew me to this book. It’s not that I’m particularly fond of gladiators, I’ve never even seen the movie Gladiator, but I am always drawn to a story with a kick ass female character. Does it get any more kick ass than a female gladiator?Probably not. The awfully gorgeous cover was also a big reason why I wanted to read the book, if we’re being honest. I have read a book by this author (Wondrous Strange), but it was several years ago back when I didn’t even know what book blogs were and when I was in my fairy stage…before I realized fairies in books are always assholes. Anyway, I don’t remember much about that book (other than the asshole fairies) but I do remember liking it and it survived my book purge last Summer so there must have been something about it that made me want to hold on to it. After reading The Valiant, I can see why I kept it because Livingston can sure write one hell of an entertaining story.
Personally, this is the first book about female gladiators, or gladiators in general that I’ve read so I was excited to read what felt like something new, especially in YA fantasy. Fallon was such an awesome character, she was tough and fearless but also vulnerable and had her flaws. Although the story starts off with a bit of a mini-romance, it was over quickly and it helped me see why Fallon was so determined and cautious later on. I don’t particularly like when stories start like this, but this was over with so quickly that it was kind of easy to forget about it. Right from the start, Fallon’s strength and values are put to the test and she continues to face these challenges throughout the book. I really enjoyed the fight scenes and the friendships that Fallon formed. The romance in this story was definitely a slow build kind, and although not much really happens in this book, I did really like it and I have high hopes for it in the next book. It’s always entertaining to see such a stubborn and tough girl slowly let her defenses down and fall in love, especially when it’s with the last person they expected. Although the romance didn’t overpower the story, the times we did see hints of it were great and only made me want more. My only real issue with this book is that it kind of took a while for us to get to the actual Gladiator part .I believe I was about 2 hours into the audiobook before she was sold as a gladiator, and by that point I had almost forgotten what this book was supposed to be about. The parts before this weren’t boring by any means, it’s actually important to the story, but I do think that it could have been…condensed a bit? Or that could just be my ‘I hate books’ prejudice talking.
The audiobook narrator was another huge draw for me. As much as I was interested in this book, I hate reading fantasy books because they are so long and it’s hard for them to keep my attention, I much prefer to listen to them in audiobook. By this point, Fiona Hardingham are very well acquainted. I’ve listened to several audiobooks narrated by her and I believe most if not all of them have been YA Fantasy books. Just goes to show how perfect her voice is for the genre. I dislike listening to narrators with accents on audiobooks because sometimes it’s hard for me to understand them, but Fiona is one of the exceptions. Like always, she was great and I will definitely continue to listen to the series if she narrates it. I do hope that this is more of a duology instead of a dragged on series and I have all my fingers and toes crossed that this doesn’t turn into one of those cliches love triangles inthe next book. Although this book was a bit long for my liking, I very much enjoyed it. I hope the next book wraps things up, but if not, I hope it’s a worthy sequel with more romance. For this non-fantasy reader, The Valiant was definitely entertaining and original.
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