Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant
(The Valiant #1)
by Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: Feb. 14, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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.




The Valiant is the story of a Celtic princess who is kidnapped from her homeland, labeled a slave, and sold to the highest bidder. Which is how Fallon ends up as a female gladiator. Let’s just take a moment to soak that in. This is the story about female gladiators. This is not a fluffy story about boys, parties, and late-night pillow fights. There’s a lot of arena fighting, a lot of deaths, and a lot of looking over your shoulder that takes place throughout the story… and I really enjoyed it. 😀

When I say that Fallon was a princess, I don’t mean she was a Lady decked out in poofy dresses, and attending etiquette classes. Fallon’s people are warriors. So, on her seventeenth birthday, she expected her father to claim her as a member of his war band. Instead, he tried to marry her off. One thing leads to another and Fallon is captured and sold. Then once she’s purchased and trained as a gladiatrix, she finds that her opponents in the arena aren’t the only ones gunning for her. There is so much that goes on that I was always wondering what would happen next.

When I read that there would be a romance between Fallon and a Roman soldier, I was over the moon excited. I love a good romance. However, this fell flat for me. I didn’t fully understand their love or how they got there. One minute Fallon is in love with her childhood friend, the next she’s in love with a Roman soldier? I didn’t feel like they had enough time together to build up to that deep of a connection. In the end, it just felt rushed and incomplete to me.

I have been dying to get my hands on a copy of this book since the cover was released. There was just something about a female gladiator story that really piqued my interest. I really enjoyed the story that the author wrote, but at the same time, felt like it was lacking something. I kind of felt like this was just your average young adult novel but with a gladiator spin. You have the girl who climbs the ranks randomly (seriously, why wasn’t her friend Elka considered for Julius Caesar’s prized fighter? She saved Fallon’s behind on multiple occasions). Then there were the girls within her “sisterhood” who are catty and gunning for her. Not to mention the lackluster forbidden romance. I guess I was just hoping for more with this one. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed it, but it didn’t feel like it was anything new. I will pick up the next book from my library if they get it in, but I don’t think I will be going out of my way for it. Which is too bad because it has so much potential.



Favorite quote…

“There is only forward. Only tomorrow. No yesterday, no going back. And nothing of value is left behind, so nothing is truly lost.”



30 Thoughts on “Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

  1. too bad it’s not really original but it looks good. The cover is great too!

    • I love the covers for the series so far. They are so badass looking. And while there was a lot of death and fighting, I just wish there wasn’t a romance in it. Which is insane since I LOVE romance, but I felt like that took away from the story.

  2. Female gladiator! That’s a first for me! Just added it to my TBR. Thanks for sharing your review!

  3. This one’s been on my radar for awhile, I’ll check if the library has it though Thank ya!!!

  4. I like the premise for it and all the action, but I think the weak points about the story that you point out are very valid. Interesting.

    • I think it would be an amazing story if it wasn’t a romance and maybe if things didn’t happen the way that they did. :\ I still plan to read the next book in the series though.

  5. honestly feels like the love thing could have been left out, the story sounds fun without it

    • Normally, I’m all about romance in my stories, but it just didn’t work for me in this. Maybe if it was fleshed out a bit more? I honestly think I would have been totally okay if there was no romance in it at all though.

  6. Sorry it didn’t go the distance. Better luck next time.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  7. I also saw the cover and wanted to read it. I didn’t know it was about a female gladiator. I just added this to my list. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on this one. 🙂

  8. The cover reminds me of that show Zena Warrior Princess.

  9. Great review Kristen. I don’t like when authors feel like they have to rush romances between characters, sometimes it would be nicer to focus on the story and not the romance.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I wish the romance was either done differently or not included at all. It didn’t really make much sense to me and I felt like it took away from the story.

  10. I added this one to my TBR a while back because I loved the idea of a female gladiator. I’m still intrigued by the story but will probably just check it out of the library instead of purchasing it.

    • It was an enjoyable story. I would still recommend picking it up. I loved the whole female gladiator aspect. It may be best to check it out from the library first though if they have it in.

  11. I like the idea of a female gladiator as well, and the cover is fabulous! Hugs…RO

  12. I had a lot of the same feelings about this one as you. It was good but it was definitely missing that extra something. Also I was not the biggest fan of the romance either. Great review!

  13. Greg Hill on 25 February, 2018 at 12:07 am said:

    I’ve been going back and forth on this one, especially since I saw the cover for book two and loved it! Plus the premise… but I don’t know, I had a feeling it was kinda YA-ish and not anything super awesome? So yeah… tough to know, but your review kinda confirms that maybe? I may still read it though. Great review!!

  14. It sounds like it has potential, and I like that she’s a female gladiator. Great post.

  15. oh the gladiator bit is an interesting spin but darn on it still managing to have some generic average vibes at the same time.

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