Entertaining & Original: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Entertaining & Original: The Valiant by Lesley LivingstonThe Valiant (The Valiant, #1)
by Lesley Livingston
Series: ,
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Published by Penguin Teen, Razorbill
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
Length: 10 hrs and 21 mins
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Source: Audiobook Received for Review

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.


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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.

Audiobook Sample:

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Nereyda

Nereyda

Nereyda is a 31 year-old mother of two girls with addiction to Friends, fashion, books, Pinterest, Netflix, the color black and a little bit of everything else. Also, the world's worst texter...
  • This cover is gorgeous. I have the same thoughts about this book that you did before reading it. I love the idea of a female gladiator and I like that the romance is so slow that you don’t really get much of it in this book. I hate it when there’s insta-love.

  • There is nothing worse than having a doll-drum narrator especially when you’re reading a fantasy novel. Glad you’re well acquainted with Fiona’s work so that’s motivation enough. A girl gladiator sounds kick ass!

  • I am glad that you enjoyed the audiobook. A good narrator makes all the difference. I remember when everyone was buzzing about this one last year, I had forgotten about it. I should see if I can get it from my library.

  • I love the sound of this one Nere and I can’t remember coming across any other YA title with gladiators, never mind female ones. I love myself a kick ass book chick too and Fallon sounds brilliant! It really does help when the narrator is engaging and enjoyable to listen to, they really do make or break a book for me from the few I’ve listened to. Definitely snagging a copy of this one. Brilliant review Nere <3

  • I have this one on my TBR/wishlist. I’ve heard great things about it and it sounds so good. I love books with strong female characters.

  • I’ll be honest and admit I was kind of hesitant about this book when I first read about it but I’ve been hearing good things so I might give it a shot! 🙂

  • Ooh, I haven’t come across this one before but I really like the sound of it. Female Gladiators! Yes please – Adding it to the wish list 🙂

  • I read Wondrous Strange back in the day too! Not because I was into fairies, but because the author lives only one town over from me. Pretty cool! The Valiant didn’t work *quite* as well for me as it did for you – I wasn’t into the romance at all – but I absolutely loved how kick ass all the ladies were. Plus Fallon and Elka are friend goals!

  • I agree the cover to this book is pretty awesome. Also, I loved your comment about discovering that fairies are always assholes. I couldn’t agree more, which is why I don’t read books with the Fey often. They just piss me off too much!

  • I agree that female gladiators is a concept I’m definitely interested in! For some reason I just couldn’t get myself to read this though (I also tried the audio). I feel like I may have to give it another try though after seeing how much you enjoyed it! The romance seems awesome! Great review 😀

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  • I loved the Wondrous Strange series! I can’t wait to read this one. It’s next on my audiobook list. I love Fiona Hardingham! She’s the reason I decided to go the audiobook route with this one. Great review! You have me even more excited.

  • You’re the second blogger I’ve seen who enjoyed this book so I most definitely need to check it out. That along with about 100 books are in my basket waiting to be bought so hopefully the price will go down enough for me justify getting a copy. I love the idea of a female gladiator and whilst it’s a little annoying it takes a while for the gladiator part to come into play but it still sounds awesome.