Synopsis (From GoodReads):
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.
I love the subject of ancient Rome. From the old Masterpiece Theater series I, Claudius to the more recent The Gladiator, I have some understanding of the social structures of the time, at least for the men of that era. But there seems to be little known of women in that society. When I read the synopsis for The Valiant, I was hooked. The story tells of Fallon's journey from Celtic princess to female Gladiator. There is some actual historical evidence that these warriors existed. This tale is told in an action-packed style that was, in equal parts, a survival story, a mystery, and a romance. I loved it!
What I Liked:Setting:
The book begins with the Celtic settlements in Britain, and takes us on the perilous road to Rome. I enjoyed the details of daily life such as what possessions Fallon would have and how she would dress. The types of weapons and ways in which they were used must have been thoroughly researched because they seemed quite authentic. This is why I enjoy historical fiction so much. The story can make the reader feel as though they are living in that time.
When the story settles in ancient Rome, the book really comes alive with details of Roman households, and the gladiator training centers (called Ludi).
Told in the first person, Fallon is a wonderfully complex character. We not only see that she is a powerful fighter, but that she also realizes she has a lot to learn befor she can aspire to become a female gladiator. I loved that she made mistakes and learned from them. She also had to relearn what it means to be brave, to sacrifice, and to love. Fallon is a very different person at the end of the book from where she began.
Cai is another great character because he, too, goes on a journey from arrogant Roman soldier, used to taking what he wants, to someone who comes to respect (and love Fallon). I am usually not a fan of the hate to love trope. However, I thought this worked because both people had to let go of their long-held beliefs in order to see each other as individuals.
It seems that every book one reads now is set up to have sequels, and this book is no exception. What I appreciated, though, was that the main problem in the book actually was resolved!!!
This may seem like a given, but I have read so many books where this is NOT the case. Many times, the author ends the book almost mid-sentence in order to hook the reader into anticipating the next installment. Just tell me what happened, already!
I often wait (if I know a book will have several sequels) to read a series until all the installments have been published so I won't be subjected to this issue.
What I Didn't Like:Characters:
Some of the characters are not as fleshed out as others. I would have liked to have seen a few more of the female gladiators have larger roles. Since they were such a diverse group from across the Roman Empire, I think each of their stories would be fascinating. Perhaps we will be treated to this in subsequent books.
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Source: Random House "First In Line" program
Format: ARC Paperback
Recommendation: An action-packed tale of female gladiators. I loved how the main characters learns about more than just fighting, she grows as a person.