The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 14th 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Soure: ARC from Harper Collins
Link to the author: http://www.lesleylivingston.com/
RATING: 4.5 ☆
“Wind carry my words. Shadows and darkness see my plight. Let the Morrigan hear my plea. Give me the strength to vanquish my enemies and wreak my vengeance.”
Can I just say, 2017 releases are killing it! Seriously, I have read some incredible books this year and The Valiant is definitely one of them.
The story is about a girl named Fallon who is the daughter of a Cantii king. She has long awaited the day when she would become an honored member of his war band just like the older sister she idolizes. In a sick twist of fate, her life is changed forever and she finds herself fighting instead, in the gladiator arena of Rome, her family’s sworn enemy.
The story starts off strong and in the first few chapters, Fallon’s life is altered in unexcepted ways one after another. The story gives you a chance to catch your breath and introduces some new characters but it doesn’t pause for long. This story was honed like a perfectly balanced blade. There was enough dialogue between the characters to connect with them, but also enough action to propel the story onward. I never felt like I needed more than I was given or that something was dragged out. It was embellished in all the right places that brought the story to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Rome through Fallons eyes. Rome and Gladiators are not something I’ve read about in YA before, and it was so nice to read something new. Livingston is truly a strong and talented writer. Another thing about the writing, there were so many times I found myself shouting “I knew it!” And yet I don’t consider that this story was predictable because I only ever turned out to be partly correct. I always appreciate an author that can keep me on my toes like that.
The characters were also written really well. Fallon is tough and smart and realistically flawed. I felt that she grew a lot during the story as her values and beliefs were challenged. She really held fast to the essence of who she was as an individual while considering what her new position in life could allow her to become. My heart broke for her in the first few chapters, I loved Mael, and I wasn’t sure I wanted there to be a second romance. I ended up really liking the other love interest! And I appreciate the respect he shows Fallon, he knows that she is not a woman to be kept. Even the side characters were great, they were complex and their roles were essential to the story progression and the main characters growth. Nyx was the perfect villian, the kind you despise and then in certain moments feel for. Elka was an excellent sort of sidekick character, full of so much sass and loyalty, I wish she were my best friend. And the relationship between Fallon and the Lady Achillea was pleasantly unexpected. I felt that she kept Fallon from becoming bitter about her new lot in life and instead helped her see the possibilities in it.
Overall I really liked that the romance was not the main focus. Instead, it was more Fallon learning about herself, what she wanted to stand for and the person she wanted to become. I loved that she found a new family and a sisterhood. That bond was a strong focus in The Valiant and I don’t think you see that often enough in YA. The suggestion that family and belonging can be found again after losing it really resonated with me at this time in my life.
I gave The Valiant 4.5 out of 5 stars and I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, The Defiant! I y ou enjoy strong female leads, stories about finding your tribe, or a great historical fiction, then I highly recommend this book!
A big thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of The Valiant for this review!