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The Valiant

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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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published February 14, 2017

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Lesley Livingston

28 books2,417 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,612 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,538 reviews9,966 followers
February 28, 2017
"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once."
-William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar


I bloody freaking loved this book! ❤

The first book in this series/trilogy/dualogy is amazing!

Fallon is in training to become one of her father's war chiefs. She's in love with an awesome guy named Mael and everything is looking perfect. But it isn't and it all falls apart.

Fallon is taken and sold into slavery which ends up getting her into a school to train to become a gladiatrix. She belongs to Caesar who is her sworn enemy.

Along the way she meets another slave named Elka and I just love her. She ends up being a great friend to Fallon and an awesome fighter as well. I love both of these characters. There are a few other characters that are awesome but I can't name them because it's a secret!

There is a Roman soldier named Caius (Cai) that has taken a fancy to Fallon and we will see where this leads later on.

I loved the battles although I hate that the girls were slaves and forced into this life. But, Fallon is happy, she wanted to be a fighter just not in this sense and for Caesar. But so many things are not what they seem in this book. I teared up at a few parts.

There is nothing left to say accept this is a bad arsed book to start the series. I know some people don't like the slow building up to stuff. There really isn't any slow building up to anything in this book. I think it's amaze balls!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
382 reviews1,010 followers
January 9, 2021
“I would be the master of my own fate. Me and the goddess Morrigan. No one else—and certainly no man.”


THIS WAS GREAT! You are all sleeping on this book and what a grave mistake that is! :O This is everything that I wanted the faux-Roman An Ember in the Ashes to be!


Fallon is a kick-arse protagonist who is all about bravery, victory and honour. She has many chances to escape the life forced upon her as a slave...a gladiator, but she never takes it because she adamantly wants to fight her own battles. I can’t imagine being the daughter of a Celtic king, only to be kidnapped from my home and thrust into — not only Roman society — but down to the bottom of the social hierarchy entirely. She goes from royalty to slave so fast that my head spun. She takes it in stride though and proudly fights for Caesar, tackling any obstacle thrown her way. All in all, Fallon is such a strong and wonderful protagonist.

“I’ve never known anyone like you,” he whispered. “Ever. Since that moment on the ship.”
“The moment when I tried to kill you?”
“No. The one when you put yourself at risk to help Charon, the man who’d put you in slave irons, in the middle of all that chaos and death. You are uncommon in your bravery, Fallon. You are stronger than any woman I’ve ever known.” He smiled ruefully. “And you seem determined to haunt my dreams.”


Cai was a lovely Roman soldier and son of a Senator. He genuinely respected Fallon and her capabilities as a fighter, even doing what he can to help her improve to become an even better one. Over the course of the novel, they come to know and understand each other, slowly developing quite an endearing romance. It was rather sweet and I really enjoyed it, but if I'm being honest...this romance isn't really a fundamental aspect of the novel.


Elka is a true friend to Fallon, as well. At first, their relationship is extremely confrontational and competitive, but they become fast friends as they endure being kidnapped from their homes, sold as slaves, and trained as gladiators together... Female friendship is definitely one of the many highlights of this novel.

As for the story itself? The plot was nonstop action and I could barely breathe as I was dragged from one adventure to another. One minute we’re in the clan lands of the Celts, the next we’re aboard a slave ship invaded by pirates, and then we’re fighting for our lives in a Roman gladiator ring. Lesley Livingston has a very engaging writing style that had me glued to the page. And the fact that she has written a trilogy about one of my favourite topics ever...Ancient Rome? EVEN BETTER.


I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, Ancient Rome, training montages, and fast-paced action. This is quite an enjoyable read and perfect for getting out of a book slump. :)
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,254 followers
February 6, 2017
A spark somewhere deep inside of me flared to life. The tiniest blue flame, with nothing of tinder to catch onto except the delusional hope that I could somehow fight my way back to freedom.

Female gladiators fighting in the arena in ancient Rome. It sounds like a myth - a completely made up tale. The truth is..there is actual evidence of female gladiators (gladiatrices). They really existed. The problem is there is very little evidence and we don’t actually know much. Especially in comparison to what we know about (male) gladiators. What is especially fun is how Lesley Livingston takes this actual history and puts a fantasy twist on it as she imagines a Rome where there is a training school devoted to making women into gladiatrices.

Seventeen year old Fallon is the youngest daughter of Virico, the Celtic king of their tribe. Her older sister Sorcha, a warrior for the tribe, died defending their land as Julius Caesar invaded. Fallon has been trying to live up to her sister’s memory ever since. She’s a strong, fierce young lady with an indomitable spirit determined to be a warrior just as her sister was. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. She ends up in the hands of slavers only to be sold to a training school owned by the very man who took her people’s land and her sister’s life.

The story is excellent. A lot happens especially at the beginning, but I felt it only made the story more fast-paced. There is a whole lot of action with some pretty brutal battle scenes. I was loving every second of it! The themes of sisterhood and honor are deeply explored becoming the true heart of the story. The relationships Fallon makes are excellent. Especially her friendship with Elka. But don’t worry, Fallon has her fair share of enemies as well. In a highly competitive training school, there are bound to be rivalries.

There are some decent twists. Semi-predictable, but I didn’t think it diminished the plot. The story holds itself up without needing mind-blowing twists to make the story great. There is some romance. It wasn’t my favorite because it didn’t feel like it fit with the plot. It falls on the instalove side lacking any real development. A book about badass female gladiators doesn’t exactly need a sweet forbidden romance. I felt the stakes were a bit too high to care about such minuscule things.

The Valiant works as a standalone. The way things ended, I wouldn’t mind a sequel. It was a fairly quick read remaining entertaining throughout just as the games are supposed to be.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,636 reviews34k followers
August 5, 2016
4.5 stars BADASS GIRL GLADIATORS. Does that sound amazing? Guess what--it's even more awesome than it sounds.

I was lucky enough to read an early galley, but review to come from the ARC. With any luck, this thing will be a monster success. It deserves it.
Profile Image for Nicole.
750 reviews1,937 followers
February 19, 2021
I was reading a book earlier last week and while the plot was nothing impressive, I still gave it 4 stars because of the characters. I knew that good characters are more important to me than an exciting plot but I wondered, how can I be so sure? It's been a long while since I read a book that enjoyed without hating nor loving any of the MCs, a book solely based on a plot-driven story. Ironically, I read this book only a few days later.

Fallon, the daughter of a king in the Gaul, trained all her life to become a member of the war band -just like her warrior sister, Sorcha, did before her. When Julius Caesar attacked, her father was taken and her sister while succeeding in freeing him, died during the mission. However, Fallon won't realize her dream because she was kidnapped and then sold to an elite training school for female gladiators (gladiatrices) owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. A princess was now a slave and she'll have to work for her sworn enemy to survive, but things don't stop here. Before she realized it, she has to survive her enemies' wrath who will do anything to destroy her. She can no longer ignore her feelings anymore toward Cai anymore, a Roman soldier, and her enemy.

As you noticed, the summary of the events is not short because a lot was happening. I never got bored while reading this book, in every chapter something new occurred. It was addicting and fun. I was considering giving it 4 stars while reading the first half of the book. It was so good, a new idea, action-packed book, and likable characters. Until you notice that these characters stay the same. No character development here. Even though Fallon came a long way from the beginning, she was just the same. She might have changed some of her views toward Romans but it stopped there. I didn't hate her of course, she almost didn't do anything stupid, she was smart and sarcastic sometimes but still 2-dimentional. I know almost nothing about her past life, maybe some memories with Sorcha and her life in general with her childhood best friend, Mael (will get to him later). I wish we learned more about her life before she was captured because then we would know exactly what she really lost. We didn't know if she had a good relationship with her father, for example, or some of her adventures with Mael that made their friendship so strong. The king seemed like a stranger although he's her only family. Mind you, she didn't fret about her past more than necessary. That's something I liked yet even though the book hooked me from page one, a chapter about her life in her homeland wouldn't have done any harm.

So this part is about Mael, in the first 2 chapters they confess their love. Anything that happens in the 10% of the book is not considered a spoiler, yet, so much was happening in this one. A surprising event happened in the first few chapters and I'm not sure if I can tell so read this paragraph at your own risk or just skip it.
I found Mael sweet and caring, yet couldn't develop any feelings or attachment toward him since he was dead before we knew more of him. Obviously, since we know she'll love Cai from the summary, I expected him to die or something but not like this. My main problem with this is that she started loving Cai while not too quickly since few months passed too early while she did not exactly forget about Mael, she surely liked Cai too fast. Her love relationship with Mael was kinda nonsense, I didn't feel the chemistry between the two and she claims later that she loved him yet in no time, she had her eyes on Cai. Maybe (and of course) her feelings toward Mael weren't real but I wanted her to realize this but she didn't. I also didn't swoon for them but I would've been fine with it if it wasn't for Mael.

Another aspect I liked about this book was the female friendship. In her journey to Rome, Fallon meets Elka, a fellow slave. After their fight, they quickly become best friends. I loved Elka. She was strong, funny, smart, and so much more. Until she disappeared almost completely from the plot in the second half of the book. I wish we knew more about her. We learned about her past briefly but Fallon was too much focused on her own life that she never wondered how her friend was doing. She was just always there. I was disappointed when I didn't see more of their times together. When the book is fast-paced, it risks being rushed. While rushed books are fun they end up having so many plot holes, that's the case of The Valiant. The characters were so dull. When you look in the depth of the book, you can't feel nor hatred nor real affection to the characters not even to Fallon's enemies. The idea was original, the story was compelling but it stops there.

I rarely take time in my reviews to talk about the writing style, this book is an exception since I have a lot to say about it. It's not that I don't care about it but rather as a non-English speaker, I honestly admit that I might miss many things. Thus, in most of the books, the writing style is okay. Many times I notice that the ebooks have some mistakes but wonder if my copy was edited for some reason and leave it there. Therefore, when I, someone with tons of mistakes, notice that the writing style is too plain with many errors, you'll know it's the truth. There was nothing impressive about it. It was so average while not exactly bad it had nothing special only some fancy words from time to time. Other than that, it was bland. There were some grammar mistakes and even typos (but maybe my copy-edited, again). Some books suffer from over descriptive paragraphs. In The Valiant, no matter how hard I tried, the picture of the area where the events were happening (Rome, the fighting pits, the dorm..) stayed blurry. Sometimes you think it's your problem but when you're reading a book with someone and you both notice this stuff, you know it's not you. The world-building was also lacking. I mean not all of us know about ancient Rome and how it looks like exactly, right? She didn't even know how so I expected more details. Again, rushed books cons, they lack a good description. Even though the dialogues were kinda stiff, they kept the story going.

You know that cliche when the character make a hasty stupid decision and it turns out to be a disaster? Well, this book wasn't an exception. I was disappointed to see it happening here because I'm pretty sure it could've been avoided and done in a better way. Also, the ending gave me some hunger games vibes, I will leave it here because I don't want to spoil anything but know that I'm not talking about tributes and such, if you ever read this book, you'll know what I mean.

I don't know if this book is historically accurate, if we had gladiatrices during Caesar's reign but it's hard to get right facts from these days and it's also fantasy, at least, Lesley Livingston didn't enter real historical characters minds although she mentioned them and our Fallon met some at a point, yet, she didn't give us a wrong idea about them. Something I can't say about the Bear and the Nightingale even though it was obvious that the author Katherine Arden did more researches for her book (it's kind demanding since it only happened a few centuries ago while in Livingston's case, millennials). I appreciate that Lesley avoided real people as much as possible because she'll risk accuracy and it would be a subject of debate whether their personalities were really like this or not.

While this might sound like a negative review, I thoroughly enjoyed The Valiant more than any book I read and that was released in 2017. I would highly recommend it if you're a fan of a plot-driven story or if you're looking for a quick read. If we had more character development and a better writing style, I would've given this book 4 stars without second thoughts. It had so much potential, too bad it wasn't invested or I'm pretty sure it was going to be a big hit this year.

One last thing, don't be afraid, this book has no cliffhanger but I'm sure I will read the Defiant as soon as it comes out!

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews843 followers
February 18, 2017
4.5 stars. To round up, or to round down... let's see how my review goes. =)

EDIT: I rounded up. :D

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss/ARC

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister's footsteps and earn her place in her father's war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. 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, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, "The Valiant" recounts Fallon s gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire."

What I Liked:

This book was incredible. I've not read any book - Young Adult or Adult - featuring female gladiators, so I was immediately intrigued, upon reading the premise. Discovering this book was truly a blessing, because this book was every bit as ferocious and kickbutt as the synopsis and the hype promised. I'm honestly stunned.

Fallon is the second daughter of the Celt king of the Cantii tribe of Prydain (Britain). Her older sister Sorcha was captured and killed by Romans years ago, and Fallon has grown up hating the Romans and desiring vengeance. Fallon is a fierce fighter, and wants to be a warrior of her father's war band. But she is captured by slavers, who take her to Rome and sell her to a woman who trains female gladiators. The Ludus Achillea is filled with girls Fallon's age, who have been trained to be gladiators to serve Julius Caesar. Fallon must train to be deadly and vicious, in order to survive fighting in an arena, like all of the the other female gladiators of Ludus Achillea. Fallon must put aside her thirst for vengeance against Rome in order to survive and fighter for her freedom.

The first thing I want to say is that this book is nothing like Sarah J. Maas's (note the last line of the synopsis on Goodreads, also copied above). Maas's heroines (any of them, in any series) pale in comparison to Fallon and her fellow gladiators. I've always thought Maas's heroines were weak, and they definitely appear so, compared to the highly skilled ladies of this novel. I'm only bringing up Maas and her characters because of the synopsis above - don't let that "comparison" trick you. This book is nothing like Maas's, and for the better.

From the start, I liked Fallon, and was cheering for her. She is turning seventeen, and she is going to make a bid to her father to be a part of his war band, like her sister had years ago. But she is captured, dragged across lands and seas, sold, and then trained to be an even better fighter than she was. Fallon never loses her intense, defiant spirit. She was made and destined to be a gladiator, with her intelligence, defiance, persistence, and skill. Fallon isn't a merciless killer, and she is not without honor. I liked how human she was, how much she had to learn, and how far she had to become, in order to be a noticeable gladiator.

She grows so much, emotionally and mentally as well. Being captured and taken from her beloved home and loved ones strikes an incredible amount of anger in Fallon's heart (as it should). But Fallon begins to realize that the world is so much larger than her Cantii tribe, and that there is more to Rome than she ever thought. I loved seeing Fallon mature as the story progressed. The book takes place over months, possibly a year or more, so it's a long time for a lot of character development (and Livingston delivers).

The world-building of this story is so beautifully written. I felt like I was in the ancient times, especially throughout Fallon's journey from Prydain to Rome. The descriptions of Rome, the markets, the warriors, the clothing - everything seemed incredibly realistic to the time period. It's clear that Livingston did her research very well.

I am such a fan of the sisterhood and female friendships of this book. From the start, we know that Fallon deeply misses her sister Sorcha, and has mourned her death for years. Fallon is captured and chained to another captive, Elka, and while they don't hit it off at first, Elka and Fallon become friends during the journey. They are sold together to Lady Achillea, and train together. Their friendship, along with others, is powerful. It was especially encouraging to see this strong relationship, when not all of the female gladiators were intent on being part of the "sisterhood" of the Ludus Achillea. There are ruthless rivalries, and Fallon finds herself amidst several almost immediately upon entering the ludus.

I looove the romance! It's amazing, the journey Fallon is taken through, and not just her journey to becoming a gladiator. She doesn't expect to fall for a Roman decurion, and pretty much resists the attraction and feelings of affections that bloom, at first. It's somewhat of a hate-to-love romance, at least on Fallon's end. I think Caius Varro was intrigued by Fallon from the start, even when she tried to kill him. I loved their dynamic. Caius never tries to dominate or own Fallon, and he sees her as his equal. The progression of their feelings and whatnot is somewhat slow and subtle, and I loved it. Things do get a little heated but I also liked how the romance was not at the forefront at any point in the book. No love triangle!

Caius is probably my second or third favorite character of the book. He is an extremely skilled, extremely powerful Roman officer, and he is often at the academy, reporting for Caesar. He seems arrogant at first, but as the pair fall for each other, Fallon can see that he has her best interests at heart. He is a good man and an excellent match for her, in terms of personality and temperament. Did I mention that I'm a little in love with him? Swoooon.

The story builds to an epic showdown in which we finally get to see Fallon's skills and training be tested, as a true gladiator. She is fighting for Caesar, and the stakes are very high for her. The ending of the book gets very fast-paced and very thrilling. The whole book is well-paced and extremely engrossing, but the last quarter picks up speed.

The ending is perfect! There are elements that are extremely wonderful, and elements that are purposefully open-ended. I love that some things are hinted at, and you kind of have to imagine what life will be like in the future, for Fallon and ____ and _____, etc. But I also love that some things are very concrete ad permanent. I'm especially thrilled about something developments. I love that this book is a standalone, because it ends really neatly, and while I wouldn't mind seeing more from this world, I'm glad Fallon's story ends here!

What I Did Not Like:

I really can't think of anything worth mentioning, that I didn't like! You can probably tell how much I enjoyed the book. It swept me off my feet!

Would I Recommend It:

Historical fiction fan or not, I highly recommend this book! I don't tend to give super high ratings like this one often, but when I do, it's usually for an amazing book that is a new favorite. Female gladiators kicking butt should be enough to reel anyone in, but throw in the politics and intrigue of Julius Caesar and ancient Rome, some incredible world-building, an engrossing plot, a swoony (and forbidden) romance, and a fantastic ending, and you've got a winner.


4.5 stars -> rounded up to 5 stars. That did not take long! Only twenty-three days into the new year and I've handed out my first five-star rating. Granted, this is the thirteenth book I've read for the year already. Honestly, I would have been so disappointed had I not enjoyed this book, and I'm glad it turned out to be every bit as sensational as everyone said. The hype is strong with this one, and rightfully so!
Profile Image for sreeja.
65 reviews307 followers
May 21, 2017
“There is only forward. Only tomorrow. No yesterday, no going back. And nothing of value is left behind, so nothing is truly lost.”

The Valiant started out slow and frankly was quite boring in the beginning. The amount of development that happened was honestly amazing and I’m glad I pulled through the first few chapters that were literally killing me. The main fighting didn’t really start till late into the book but at least the middle wasn’t as boring as the first part.The plot was the main thing that pulled me in though: female gladiators???? : hi, where do I sign up?

a) A badass and amazing main character with strong morals
Fallon; our mc is such an amazing protagonist to be following. She is strong, honourable and doesn’t give up and it doesn’t hurt that she can kick some serious ass in the arena as a female gladiator and like I honestly want more action scenes (there were plenty but I want more).
b) Great female friendships and sisterhood
Elka and Fallon’s friendship was so amazing and to see them bond under such tough situation was so endearing and funny. To see them go from 2 people ready to tear each other’s hair out to more than sisters was such an amazing relationship to follow. #brbcrying
c) The whole setting + plot
It was so fun to explore the time period of this book. The whole hierarchy, the way the Roman society worked. The whole slavery situation was talked about in such great detail and the general openness in the writer’s writing when she wrote about this was really amazing. I love that she didn’t sugarcoat any of the things that used to happen in those times.

There were issues that I had with this book though; mostly the super awkward and insta-lovey relationship between Fallon and Cai. It felt kind of forced and I would have been honestly so content if there wasn’t any romance in this book because it doesn’t really feel necessary?? Like Fallon doesn’t need a man and like if she did; I’m sure that she wouldn’t have fallen in love with the enemy in such a short time. The characters in the book had realistic flaws and it was so fun to see Caesar and Cleopatra as characters. This book also had a really cool plot twist!
Apart from this and the book being slow in the beginning I think that everything else was really fun and I would definitely recommend this. PLUS I loved that ending.

i loved the idea of this story but i had my doubts because i didn't know if it was going to be carried out well but,
people should definitely check this out
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
375 reviews3,090 followers
January 22, 2020
Personal rating: 3.5

“I will endure to be burned, to be bound, to be beaten, and to be killed by the sword.”

This was really enjoyable! If you’re looking for a book with fighting female gladiators then this is for you! I’ll be honest, the first 15 pages had me a little worried but after that I settled nicely within this story. Stories of Caesar, Cleopatra, even Spartacus are told.
I could easily picture everything and I feel like because I played and loved Assassins Creed Origin and Odyssey, I enjoyed this even more because I could see the Roman architecture, the warrior legionnaires, the Greek gods and landscape. The gladiator arena. It was fun!

None of the plot twists caught me by surprise. I saw them all coming and a few chapters bogged down the entertainment slightly (including the romance) but still a good read.
Profile Image for Katherine.
265 reviews158 followers
February 8, 2021
After sitting on my shelf for a year, I finally read this, and am so glad I did! Fallon, a Barbarian Princess, is sold into slavery and is forced to become a Gladiator for Julius Cesar's legion of female fighters.

Set against the backdrop of ancient Rome, Lesley Livingston does a great job of describing the cut-throat world of male and female Gladiators. She perfectly paints a world where slaves must fight for their lives, and entertain Romes citizens in the bloody process.

This book was action-packed and never felt dull. It's a suprisingly quick read that will leave you wanting more. It was fun to read a story where the likes of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra are intermixed with our main character. A very fun and atmospheric read.

The Valiant has a solid romance (which let's be honest, I always look for 😅💖), so I was very glad to find it in this book. The characters are well developed (Elka is my favorite, and if you read this book you will totally agree with me).

I definetly recommend this! The Valiant is an immersive book. It takes you to ancient Rome, where life was hard and bloody. If you're looking to escape to a land of female Gladiators who train to become the best... or die trying, than this is such a great read. Currently placing my order for book two. Also, if you were curious the audiobook is amazing. I listened and read along. 💖

5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Profile Image for Melissasfandomworld.
598 reviews120 followers
January 14, 2019
RE-READ January 2019
4.5 stars!
In order to prepare myself for the buddy read of the Defiant next month, I really wanted to re-read the Valiant in January. I ended up doing a buddy read with a friend of mine - Marie over @mixed_matched_socks on Instagram - because she wanted to read the book and this way we could motivate each other and talk about the book whilst reading it. We finished reading the book yesterday and I couldn't pass up on the opportunity of telling you guys how I feel about it.

It really comes down to this: I love everything about this book the second time around, as I did when I first read it in 2017. The writing is so good and addictive and that made for a super fast paced read. The story-line is enthralling; there's always something going on, which I love. Not a single boring moment to be found.

I love our main character, Fallon. She's the embodiment of girlpower. She's strong, feisty and even though she gets beaten down many times, she always rises and comes back from it. Her development throughout the book was really interesting and well written and I loved how the author wrote this character down.

And I loved the presence of a particular Roman commander so much as well hihi. Cai is such a terrific addition to the awesome excisting set of characters. He's strong and caring but he also gives Fallon her 'freedom' to do her own thing - so many male characters can be too overbaring sometimes or not understanding enough. Even though he isn't present That much, I came to love him so fiercely in such a small amount of time hihi. His presence helped Fallon out a lot to find her way in this 'new to her' brutal Roman Empire and I really hope he'll remain such a great supportive character in the next books.

There are some other minor characters present whom I came to love so much as well. Elka, for example, who is a fellow captive warrior. She ends up in the same fighting house as Fallon does. Their relationship starts off kind of hostile - understatement hihi - and I love how it develops into a well founded friendship over time, forged over their mutual captivity and them both being these fierce female warriors. Every single time Elka was present, it put a huge smile to my face and I'm already looking forward to come across her again.

In my opinion, the author couldn't have done a better job on the way she's put in the romance in this book. The romance is so well balanced out alongside the story-line- and character development. It's perfect for readers who don't like too much romance in a book since the focus is mostly on the story-line and characters for example. And it's present enough to satisfy the reader who do loves to come across a romance. This one isn't forced or fast developing, and it feels like such a great addition because of that. I love how these two characters have grown towards one another and found something together in this brutal world. I can't wait to see how their relationship develops in the next book.

I'm so in love with the Historical elements, like the Rome setting and the gladiators/gladiatrixes. I love how the author decided to write down female gladiators and that she has done a lot of research about it as well. It really shows in her writing about all the Rome-elements, that she did an amazing job on her research and the way she retold it in this book.

I also love the fact that Lesley has put in characters like Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra. I love how she decided to let them be a part of this story, however small it may be. I couldn't get enough of it all. And the settings... The settings are so interesting and she writes down just enough about them so that you're able to visualize it all really well, without the writing being boring or anything, you know? It was just perfect the way she wrote it all down. I've devoured every single letter.


This book has action, it's plot driven, it has angst and excitement. It has a bit of romance that had me swooning so intensely and most of all; it has heart .

This book was such a thrill and joy to experience the first time around, but this second time maybe even more so. I am so pumped to read book 2 and 3 in the coming months. I can't wait to find out how Fallon's story continues in the next installment.

If you're into feisty main characters who embody girlpower, Historical fiction with amazing Roman elements like some really beautiful Rome settings and gladiators, this is THE book for you. I'd really recommend it to anyone who's looking for a fast-paced and addictive read!
Profile Image for mich.
651 reviews234 followers
March 6, 2017
This author has no clue - NO CLUE - of how to build a romantic relationship between her characters. Both times came out of fricken nowhere, and the "main" one was the worst. A handful of conversations and then they're in love? Psshh, oh please.

This book has catchy hooks, no doubt about that. Female gladiators, being forced to fight for your enemy, forbidden love, revenge. ALL GOOD THINGS. But Livingston took all that awesome stuff and totally butchered it with her crappy writing style, uneven pacing, and bland characters.

Here's what I hated the most: the writing. All the characters tell Fallon EXACTLY what they're thinking. All the time. You know how people complain about writers who do "too much telling and not enough showing"? Well, the "telling" here is all ACTUAL TELLING. The characters just outright TELL Fallon how they feel about her, how they feel about other characters, what they're going to do, why they're going to do it.

There's no room for readers to pick up on subtleties (ha! what subtleties), rather, we're just spoon-fed EVERYTHING. I don't know about you, but I learned how to use utensils a long time ago, so this style of writing annoys the shit out of me.

This book is completely NOT worth the $10.99 I paid for it, nor was it worth the time I spent reading it. The only thing I liked in here was Charon, so I'll give it a half star for him.

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,635 followers
February 12, 2017
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/02/12/...

What an amazing surprise this was! Though to be honest, I had no idea what to expect at first, only that from the moment I saw the book description for The Valiant, I knew I had to read it. I make it no secret that I am fascinated with anything to do with Ancient Rome, and so historical fiction set in this time period is like an instant Mogsy magnet. And secondly, FEMALE GLADIATORS.

The story follows Fallon, daughter of a Celtic king and younger sister to the late legendary warrior Sorcha who fell to the legions of Julius Caesar while fighting in defense of her homeland. Despite a druid’s prophecy predicting that she will meet the same end as her sister, Fallon remains undaunted and determined to follow in Sorcha’s footsteps, hoping to one day join her father’s fighting force. She even turns down a marriage proposal from the boy she loves, knowing she must make her mark on the world before she could make such a commitment.

However, when the big day finally comes, instead of formally accepting Fallon into his war band, her father instead surprises everyone by announcing her betrothal to her true love’s brother, a Roman sympathizer. The king cites political reasons for his decision, and also because he cannot bear the thought of losing another daughter to war, but Fallon is unappeased and furious at what she sees as a betrayal.

At this point, you might think you know how this story will play out, or that all the components are laid out on the table. Within the first handful of chapters, we are introduced to a protagonist who has spent her entire life worshiping her older sister while also growing up in her shadow, and even after Sorcha’s death, all Fallon wants is to live up to her memory. Then there are the two boys around Fallon’s own age who for years have been fostered at her father’s castle, vying for Fallon’s affections. But while Fallon fell in love with one, her father decided to marry her off to the other. “Oh, this is a scenario that feels a little familiar,” I thought. “I have a few guesses about what might happen.”

Well, I was wrong about that. There were definitely plenty of surprises, a couple of which came very early on in the book too. I’m not going to spoil what they are, but suffice to say, they altered my predictions for the story entirely. Fallon ends up being captured by slavers and shipped off to Rome, where her steel resolve catches the attention of a representative for a school for female gladiators, and the rest, as they say, is history.

While The Valiant is marketed as a YA fantasy, in fact gladiatrices did exist in ancient Roman times, though they were very, very rare. They were seen more as novelties, according to the few accounts that have survived. And more than likely, they were not viewed or treated with the same regard as their male counterparts. No evidence either has been found of the training of female gladiators, or schools dedicated to them. So in a sense, this book does fall into the historical fantasy category, in the way it attempts to imagine a picture of what life would have been like if gladiatrices had been a big part of ancient Roman culture, in and out of the arena.

By combining history and elements from her own incredible imagination, the author brings the vivid world of The Valiant to life. Details are noticeably on the lighter side when it comes to setting, but Livingston makes up for it by creating an atmosphere that feels distinctly and authentically “Ancient Roman”, allowing readers to fill in any gaps with their own knowledge or understanding of the time period. I also loved the protagonist. At times, I might have found her a tad too melodramatic, but other than that, I don’t really have any major complaints about Fallon or any of the other characters. As I mentioned before, the story is sufficiently unpredictable and I was taken by surprise by a couple plot points. I might also have bemoaned the lack of gladiatorial fights in the first half of the book, but the second half showed me why it’s important to be patient. Towards the end, the ferocious action and the intense thrills succeeded in blowing me away.

In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. The category for my favorite YA novel of 2017 officially has its first contender, folks. If there’s any justice in the world, this book will be huge and it will deserve all the attention it gets. The future of this series promises to be exciting both on and off the arena floor, and I can’t wait to read more of Fallon and her sisterhood of ruthless and tough gladiators.

Audiobook Comments: I was lucky enough to be offered the audiobook of The Valiant for review, and I found it to be another splendid example of a fast-paced and addictive listen. Personally, thought the narrator Fiona Hardingham did a great job voicing Fallon’s story. I love her accent and the emotions she puts into her reading, and I would not hesitate to recommend The Valiant audiobook to anyone considering this format.
Profile Image for Lucia.
735 reviews818 followers
June 16, 2017
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the idea of teenage gladiatrix, but beside unique premise, plot-wise this novel didn’t offer anything new. Some parts were okay, others dragged and it took forever to actually get to gladiator fights.

However, my biggest complaint is with „forbidden“ romance between Fallon and Cai. It was underdeveloped and unbelievable and for me it was the weakest feature of this novel. Story would probably work better without it. Female friendship and sisterhood would have been more than enough.

Simply said, this novel didn’t sweep me off my feet.
Profile Image for Jill.
546 reviews801 followers
March 14, 2017

This book was overall a ton of fun and super interesting. It takes place in Rome during the reign and Julius Ceasar and it was interesting to see Livingston's take on these historical figures. While I do question the authenticity of these interpretations, it was fun to see Ceasar and Cleopatra actually be characters in this book.

I did have accept the fact that this book was not the most historically accurate thing in the world and it has a lot of plot holes in my opinion. I felt like lots of things were left open and not explained. But I can forgive some of that considering that there is going to be a sequel. I guess I just wasn't buying some of the events that happened but oh well.

Also I'd just like to say that this book was cool because I've taken 5 years of Latin and I could read the Latin phrases in this book easily and it was cool xD Ok moving on...

I thought the romance was overall unneeded and instalovely. Like... idk I feel like that could have waited until the sequel. I also wish that we got to spend more time with Elka. She was so badass ahhh. I feel like I would have given it 5 stars if she was the main character.

That being said, I did really love Fallon as a main character. She grew on me. I thought her development as a character was spot on. AND THAT ENDING WAS SO AWESOME! I really really appreciated the fact that she was NOT willing to give up her sword for a guy. No matter how much she cared for him, she kept true to herself and I really respect that choice. I thought she was both strong but in no way a "mary sue" character. She had to fight hard in order to get where she was and it was really great.

I also just appreciated immensely the concept of this book. Seeing extremely strong women doing something that only men would do in ancient Rome was fresh and wonderful to see especially this day in age.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! It had some pretty cool characters and a fascinating historical setting. It did have some plot holes and I wasn't completely connected to what was happening, but I might end up picking up the sequel! I suppose we will see (:
Profile Image for Coreen Angelie.
319 reviews70 followers
March 19, 2017
"I will endure to be burned . . . to be bound . . . to be beaten . . . and to be killed by the sword."

This was a promising start to a new series, the fact that it was about the female gladiators of Ancient Rome made it even more interesting. I never knew that such thing existed.
The Valiant, was one of those books that once you started, you could never put down. You could easily get lost to the author's writing style and be absorbed by the world that you've been reading.

Fallon, was a strong female character but she needs to grow more as one. She was mostly okay but she annoys me for so many reasons I couldn't really point out because I don't know them myself, all I know is that I dislike her sometimes.

The romance of this book was lousy, it was rushed and two dimensional. Two people who fell in love with each other just because the author said so. There was no development towards their feelings. One moment they were enemies then afterwards they were not.
Some scenes were overly done, others were quick and hastily made. There were some inconsistencies but it was still a good read.

The first book was an okay read, it was entertaining and educational. I'm looking forward to the second book. I hope it was better than the first one.

Profile Image for ℓуηη_σƒ_νєℓαяιѕ.
441 reviews60 followers
March 3, 2019
Let's see if I can keep this short n sweet 😁

My rating is 4.25 stars

I seriously loved this book! And it was just what I needed! The idea of female gladiators? Hell yes! I am here for that kind of badassery!! It is the sort of idea that enthralls the mind with its awesomeness!

And Fallon is just the right tough girl for the challenge. As well as her fiesty & fun cohort, Elka. I loved their friendship so much!! And Ajani when she became a part of their trio. There are so many good relationships in this book!! And I love each and every one of them. So many badass ladies, amirite?

There were some things I did predict, one of which was Lady Achillea. I thought I would be pissed at her, but no, I loved her and her strength to do what she thought was right by her girls. The other thing that was too easy for my taste was Mandobracius. Which leads me to my one major beef with this story - That's enough on that topic. I am curious to see where things go with him in the next book.

This book had plenty of political intrigue, rivalries, plot twists, and the like. I was riveted from start to finish. I loved being immersed in the world of ancient Rome and getting a taste of what it might have been like. It has fascinated me for years. And we even get to see Cleopatra!! I love her. The romance was a little on the fast side, as far as feelings developed, but it was beautifully sweet all the same 😍 There's just so much awesome in this book and I can't wait to move on to the next shortly. My only other issue was I wanted more fight scenes. You can never have too many of those in a book about a gladiator 😋 I'm hoping the next books are chalk full of 'em! Gimme The Defiant now!
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,100 reviews805 followers
January 29, 2018
“Temper passion with control, conviction with cunning.”

Rating ~3.5

A promising start to a new series.

I received an ARC through Goodreads first to read program. Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with a copy.

*Review to Come*
Profile Image for ⭐Anny⭐ (Book Princess) .
450 reviews264 followers
February 11, 2021
This was great!!! I flew through it and absolutely loved it! Definitely an underrated trilogy.

Lesley Livingston paints an interesting and colourful image of the ancient Rome, which made for a great setting for the story. That itself was fast paced and never got boring! There was action, romance, character development, and some unexpected twists!

I really liked Fallon, the MC, because she's not only a girl fighting for honor but also a young woman trying to find herself. And she was a badass sword fighter! The other characters were also interesting, I especially enjoyed reading about the development of the relationship between Fallon and Elka. Cai maybe could've been a bit more developed, but he was still likable enough. The romance which is already hinted at in the synopsis of the book was clearly there, but it never got too much. Fallon is a girl who can take care of herself and doesn't need a man by her side to save her.

The main plot point for me were Fallon's way to becoming a gladiatrix and later on her arena fights. And I loved the fight scenes. Yes, they were brutal, but I liked that. This book shows sword fights for what they are. It's been a long time since I've read a book where death felt so personal. You often read about a character killing someone, but I feel like you rarely really experience it, at least not in ya (does that make sense? Do you guys know what I mean?). The arena fights for the sake of the crowd reminded me of the Hunger Games, but never too much because The Valiant is more historically accurate. Of course it's still fiction, but it's no secret there actually were gladiator fights in ancient Rome.

Coming to the end of the book, there was a whole new plotline added which I totally didn't see coming! Yes, one scene in particular did engross me a little, but on the other hand I can't wait to see how the author (hopefully) dives deeper into this topic in the next book. Fallon's journey long isn't completed, she's obviously going to face new challenges and new enemies and I can't wait to go on that journey with her.

For me, The Valiant had everything I'm looking for in a book, it was exciting and entertaining, original and an easy read! Recommended!!
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,432 reviews1,326 followers
February 3, 2021
4.5 stars

Let me just start by saying that I loved pretty much everything about this story. I had high, high hopes because of some of the raves I had seen floating around, and it truly didn’t disappoint.

Fallon lives in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha who died in battle against Julius Caesar… she strives to be the warrior that she was and hopes her father will appoint her to his royal war band, even pushing the boy she loves aside to attain this one honor. Her father however has other plans for her, and instead of facing them she runs, only to be captured by a ruthless group of slavers who end up selling her to a training school for female gladiators in Rome.

I think what I loved most about this story was the idea of the female gladiators… We’ve all seen Gladiator and I binge watched Spartacus on a weekend, but you never see anything about the women of the time who fought, and The Valiant gives a no-holds-barred look at what that could have looked like for these strong and brutal women. The story-telling is so vivid and filled with so much action that I couldn’t put this book down.

But underneath the blood and violence, the story encompasses so much more, exploring themes of sisterhood, politics, freedom and honor, and Livingston did an amazing job keeping me riveted to the story.

Of course there is some romance here and Fallon, in her homeland, is in love with Mael, who from the first page you can tell is sweet and lovely and you can see how their friendship evolved into more… sort of. Admittedly the beginning part of the book kind of rushes by to set up Fallon’s falling into the hands of the slavers and then being delivered to the training school, but the connection between the two rings true to me. That is until she meets Cai, a young Roman soldier. This is where the romance gets a bit muddied because while Fallon fights against the idea of falling for Cai, Mael seems to become a distant memory pretty quickly, and I don’t know that I truly believed the evolution of these two falling for each other. I think I needed more of their connection to buy into it. That said, the romance is really not what this story is about.

Sisterhood is a major theme here... Fallon’s new family are the gladiator’s she is forced to fight among and I really enjoyed watching her build bonds and relationships with those around her. Elka is probably my favorite secondary character in this book and I hope we see so much more of her in book 2. There is a bit of a twist that I’m not going to spoil, but just know that you might see it coming and you might not. I kind of a had a feeling about it so it didn’t come out of left field for me, but Livingston doesn’t make it easy to guess for sure.

There is also a bit of a side-plot where someone is threatening Fallon upon her arrival to the training camp, and while it wasn’t readily given away who was behind it all, it is pretty easy to figure out who it is, though ultimately, I wasn’t sure how this really was meant to impact the story as a whole, because big picture it really didn’t, and at times it sort of felt like unnecessary filler.

The end of this story is amazing! Everything builds into this spectacular, action-packed ending that will have you turning the last page and dying for more. I love where this story ends for Fallon and I can’t wait to see what Livingston has in store for her in the future.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction and kick-ass women then this is the book for you. I promise you’ll get a wild, adventure filled with battles, friendship and romance that you won’t want to put down until you turn the last page.

Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Delia.
207 reviews172 followers
December 25, 2018
DNF. I'm sorry guys, I really did try. I was just so bored, and maybe this wasn't the right time for this book. I promise I'll try again sometime...
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
February 10, 2017
4.5 stars

Honestly, this book had it all and the only complaint I have is that I want more. The open yet extremely satisfying ending was definitely a great place to end it though, and I read this basically in one sitting. I just wanted more sisterhood, more romance, more battles... but if you're a fan of these things - as well as amazing character development that continues from the start to finish of the book - then The Valiant is not one to miss. The exploration of honor and survival in Ancient Rome is thoroughly examined through the main character's princess-to-slave perspective, as well as loyalties and romances being tested. Ultimately, you get a book that balances several topics very well (albeit with less pages than I would have liked) and, despite the time jumps, continues at a quick pace.

I would definitely recommend this to fantasy fans looking for a bloodthirsty battle, sizzling romance, and well-developed friend/sister relationships. Other books that carry a similar magic, fight-for-survival, immense character development vein include Court of Fives by Kate Elliot.

Full review to come!




"them" being this book
Profile Image for Justine.
1,158 reviews312 followers
February 18, 2017
An uncomplicated read with no surprises, but very enjoyable. I would have liked the story to have had just a bit more substance, but in spite of that I'm rating slightly up for the easy fun factor it provided.

I will definitely be reading the next book.
Profile Image for Sail - A Wicked Reader.
241 reviews86 followers
March 7, 2017
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

The gladiatorial parts of Rome is something that has always deeply fascinated me. There is very little to no historical fiction about it (especially in YA), which is just crazy because it's such an interesting topic. So this story was pretty original seeing as I've never read a book with this setting before. It was about female gladiators, so heck yeah for tough female characters. Sadly the first 1/3 of the book was kind of aggravating. Those parts seemed to be written like they were a debut novel, and the author was trying to find her sense of style. But it eventually picked up and the last 1/3 of the novel was very enjoyable. If the beginning would have been better, I would have given it 4 stars.

The main character, Fallon, definitely wasn't my favorite. Yeah she worked hard at becoming a gladiatrux (female gladiator), but I was getting the "special snowflake" vibe from her. All of the characters were very flat and pretty one-dimensional. That's the main reason this book didn't get a higher rating. The plot, however, was pretty exceptional, and everything seemed to be very well researched by the author. The Valiant had an overall message of sisterhood and working hard to achieve your dreams.

"We were castoffs and slaves, orphans and unwanteds and used-to-be princesses.
But we were a sisterhood.
And we were mighty."

Characters - 10/20
Plot line - 13/16
Originality - 15/16
Writing Style - 11/16
Pace - 10/16
Ending - 16/16
3.5/5 stars

I'd recommend this novel to fans of YA historical fiction and anyone who's interested in the world of the gladiators.
Profile Image for Leah.
263 reviews14 followers
December 10, 2016
Loved the premise. Loved the girl power. The actual story turned out to fall a bit flat compared to the hype that surrounded the book. The big twist was easy to guess because of obvious clues which was really disappointing.

It took a while to actually get to the gladiators, and the story dragged up to that point. The romance was a bit bizarre. Fallon goes from kind of liking someone to spending the rest of the book pining over his memory. The insta-love that comes later was a dud.

Overall, it was refreshing to read a book centered on strong ladies and their journeys. I wish there was more of the actual gladiator fighting as promised. Definitely not a bad book, but definitely a bit hyped.
Profile Image for Carmen (Oh, the Book Feels!) Seda.
103 reviews200 followers
March 14, 2017
Words cannot express how freaking much I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! Easily will be one of my favorite reads this year, and possibly of all time. I loved it so much that I emailed Lesley just to tell her. I can NOT wait for people to get this book in their hands!!! ADD THIS TO YOUR TBR LIST RIGHT NOW. DO IT. You won't regret it!!!!
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