The Valiant – Review // A Misleading (But Still Good) Gladiator Story

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
Stand-alone novel
Genre: YA historical fantasy
Pages: 371
Format: paperback, ARC
Source: publisher
Release Date: Feb. 14, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


I was sent an early copy of this book by the publisher. This in no way affects my opinion or the content of this review. Grammatical errors will not beΒ taken into account.

plot: 15/20
characters: 15/20
setting: 20/20
relationships: 17/20
twists: 17/20

Prior to receiving the book in the mail, I hadn’t heard too much about The Valiant. When I got it, I saw the glowing early reviews on the back and read the synopsis. The two combined had me excited to dive in. It was a good, unique story, but not quite as good as I’d hoped.

The first thing I want to say is that Goodreads has confused me. The only physical edition they have on their site says 288 pages, and yet my copy has 371. While page 288 could be an ending, significant events happen in those last 90-some pages. So do people with advanced copies have a longer story that’s cut out for people without? Or does GR just not have this specific edition yet? Also, the ending, whichever one may be official, hints at a sequel when it’s marked as a stand-alone. I’m kind of confused, but this doesn’t affect my thoughts. It’s only something I noticed. πŸ˜‰

On that note, I have mixed thoughts on the story itself. It was unique for sure. I haven’t read many historical fantasies, but I don’t think there many stories about gladiators, much less female ones. However, the first 100 pages were slow and I wasn’t really hooked until around page 120. From that point through close to the end, it was a wild, fun ride that I very much enjoyed. But in the last 90 or so pages things seemed hurried and were a bit confusing, especially in the very end. And throughout the whole story, there were only about three arena fights, two if the finished book is truly only 288 pages. Upon finishing the book I was exhilarated but also felt a bit misled. The synopsis and blurbs promise a thrilling gladiator story, and yet most of it seemed to be buildup for fights that didn’t happen, or happened off the page. It was slightly disappointing. 😐

However, the twists were redeeming. There weren’t a ton of them, but there was a good one halfway through and a couple of smaller ones sprinkled in beyond that point. The gladiator fights, few and far between as they were, were immensely entertaining and had me on the edge of my seat. πŸ™‚

There were a lot of characters, so I won’t be bringing all of them up. My favorite was Fallon, for sure. She was sassy and determined, and I admired her bravery throughout the story. Once I got past their walls, so to speak, Elka and Cai were great too. I even liked Caesar, when he was introduced, and Cleopatra felt to me like the older sister everyone wishes they had. I think it was cool to have these well-known historical figures incorporated into this story. I liked Kassandra and Ajani too, as minor as they were, but wasn’t really a fan of anyone else. The antagonists were good characters, but I couldn’t stand them. I think you guys get what I mean. πŸ˜‰

I absolutely adored the setting. It takes place in Britannia in the very beginning, among Celtic tribes. But the vast majority of the story takes place in ancient Rome, and it was just great. I don’t know too much about Rome in this time period so I can’t speak for accuracy, but I can say it was beautiful in a brutal, slightly disturbing sort of way. What I’m trying to say is that while it was bloody, the descriptions were beautiful and realistic despite that.

Similar to how Elka and Cai took some time to warm up to, their respective relationships with Fallon did as well. But once I started to like them, I went all in. Elka was the perfect feisty, loyal friend, and Cai and Fallon’s romance was slow-burning and forbidden. That’s basically the perfect combination for a hopeless romantic like me. ❀

Even though I’ve said some critical things, I really did enjoy The Valiant. I most likely would’ve binge-read it if I didn’t have to do normal things like sleep and go to school. Although I was disappointed by the noticeable lack of arena fights, Fallon and most of the secondary characters were amazing. The ties between them and the descriptions of Rome were wonderful, too. So despite the issues this book had, I think I’ll have to get a finished copy when it comes out. πŸ™‚

I would recommend this to you if you enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, or if you’re a fan of ancient Rome in general!

my rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? Are you anticipating its release? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments! πŸ™‚


I’m off to write another post and maybe start one of my new library books. πŸ™‚ I hope you all have a fabulous day/night! ❀

Until next time…


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