Lesley Livingston
372 pages
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin
Release Date: February 14, 2017
Source: ARC

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.

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THE VALIANT is an illustrious novel as brutal as it is beautiful.

I read a very early edition of this book, back in June 2016. It was a stack of paper without a cover then. Admittedly, it was a bit daunting, for a girl who always judges her next reads by their covers.

But THE VALIANT was nothing short of magnificent.

It was riveting: an explosive storyline, a forbidden romance, and the valiance of an unbreakable sisterhood in a ruthless period of history all meshed into one fast-paced story that kept me on my toes from start to finish.

Fallon was headstrong, and just as you’d expect a girl like her to be. She’s a warrior princess, a princess who grew up in a tent, a princess skilled with a blade and a war cry, who knew the freedom of the open world before she was enslaved and taken to Rome. She maintains that fierceness throughout the novel, and I loved that wild ferocity.

Fallon is our protagonist, but only one out of a diverse group of gladiatrices. The girls hail from different kingdoms, tribes, and countries, and posses unique weapons and traits, and their own distinct looks. I really enjoyed reading about how they got along (and didn’t) despite their vast differences.

I loved Cai from the very start, but I did find the romance lacking. It was there alright, but also not. There are time jumps in various points of the story, and I didn’t feel it enough to process the time that passes in which the relationship grows. So while I loved Cai, I didn’t love the romance. It was good, but not great, especially when compared to the rest of the story.

THE VALIANT, in short, is a voyage. It’s not one girl’s battle against a tyrant. Not one girl waging war against a big bad guy. I felt that THE VALIANT was bigger and smaller at once. It’s a magnificent voyage of love, honor, and what it truly means to be free.

What it means to Fallon. What it means to each and every one of us. For in THE VALIANT, I learned that everyone has different interpretations of love, honor, and freedom. Different values. It was truly a great thing to read about.

If you’ve been on the fence about THE VALIANT, I don’t blame you. Trust me when I say I was on the fence, too. But I was very, very surprised by just how much I enjoyed the novel.

And I have a feeling you might, too. I mean, gladiatrices (female gladiators), betrayal, honor and freedom—need I say more?

About the Author

Lesley Livingston is the author of Once Every Never, winner of the inaugural Copper Cylinder Award and shortlisted for the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the BC Stellar Book Award. She is also the author of the Wondrous Strange and Starling trilogies. She lives in Toronto.

Find Lesley on Goodreads | Website | Twitter

The Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on February 13, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 13, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 15, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply

    Jordan Rose

    March 10, 2017

    I am still so excited to read this book! I haven’t had a chance to get my hands on a copy just yet, but I’m hoping to rectify that soon. I loved your review, and I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoyed it! I love the concept of writing a book about female gladiators, but of course am always skeptical about things, so I’m glad to hear it seems successful. :)

  2. Reply

    Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    March 10, 2017

    I am so excited for this book! I cannot wait to read it and it sounds like something I’d absolutely love! Fantastic review and I can’t wait to read it soon myself!

  3. Reply

    Carina Olsen

    March 11, 2017

    Lovely review Hafsah :D So glad you enjoyed this one a lot. <3 I had some issues with it sadly, sobs. But I did like it too :) Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts sweet girl. <3

  4. Reply

    Highly recommended Seattle Bicycle Lawyer

    March 11, 2017

    It was so awesome! From the very first page it held my attention. It never became boring. It was a great book.

  5. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    The cover looks really good!