The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

30320008The 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.

When I find read this synopsis I went … a woman warrior, who is Celtic, AND becomes a gladiator … uh … where do I sign up?! But unfortunately the novel did not live up to my expectations.

This book was the classic case of awesome awesome story line, mediocre execution. And it is these kinds of books that bother me most. It could have been so good. But it fell just short. But then I have some strict standards, so let me tell you what turned me off.

The book starts out with Fallon, the heroine, attempting the “Morrigan’s Flight” an extremely difficult maneuver involving a chariot, a spear, and almost certain death. I don’t want to say what happens next, as I feel it would be a spoiler, but Fallon is made out to be a fearsome warrior, one of the best in her entire clan, simply by the fact that she is even attempting this extremely dangerous trick.

This makes it hard to understand, when later in the novel, she is constantly put down for her martial skills. In the first few chapters, Fallon is the best of the best. In the space of the next few chapters she becomes almost completely incompetent, to the point of cowering in a ball when someone attacks her. Needless to say, this makes no sense. And this is just the first problem.

The entire book reads like a soap opera, with people coming back to life, and dying, and backstabbing, and ominous portents, all happening without pause. One event happens, and while you are still absorbing, the next one has already happened, and the third is starting. I am not ashamed to say that I skipped a few chapters, because I couldn’t deal with all the melodrama anymore.

That said, it is obvious that the author researched her book thoroughly before she wrote it. The descriptions of the Celts, their traditions, and clothing, is – as far as I can tell – spot on, and so vivid, I can almost see them in front of me. So too are the types of gladiators, and the other cultures portrayed.

The backlashes, and startling events are all good ideas, and things I would enjoyed, if there was a split second more time between them, and romance was a wonderfully drafted slow build that were my favorite parts of the books.

No, wait I take that back. My favorite scenes were definitely the fight scenes, which were heartstoppingly detailed. I was on the edge of my seat with every word.

All in all, this book was a good book that had the potential to be amazing.

I rate this three out of five stars.

To Be Released: February 14, 2017

*I was provided an ARC by my local library for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.*


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