Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
When I read it: February 2017
Genres: YA; historical
Recommended for: If you liked the show Xena, or have ever thought, “I wish I could read a story about gladiator girls,” this book is for you.
(I reviewed it here)
What it’s about:
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.
I had an ARC and devoured this in a day, then went out and bought the hardcover when it was released. It was that good. I want to say I had been in a slump and this was what got me out of it, too, but I could be remembering that wrong.
Quick story time: when I was a kid and teenager, I freaking loved Xena. Like, along with Buffy, Charmed, and a couple of Disney shows probably no one else remembers, it was my favorite show that I had to watch when it was on, whether it was new episodes or reruns. I would have almost sold my soul to have a book that was even a little like that show.
While this book isn’t exactly like Xena (it actually doesn’t have a lot in common with the show, from what I can remember now), younger me would have been obsessed with this book, and probably cried frustrated tears because it ended. (In all honesty, grownup me became obsessed and almost cried tears of frustration.)
I’m now anxiously waiting for more info about the sequel, because I’ll be all over that, and might even pre-order it, which is a thing I almost never do. So far it looks like it’s called The Defiant and has an expected February 2018 release date. (I’m screaming in my head because I. Can’t. WAIT.)
Girl fights that aren’t over a boy, strong friendships, strong characters (both because they’re realistic and well developed, and they can kick some ass), a bit of history and mythology, very little romance (it’s there, but not super important to the story), and a fast plot made this one of my favorite books read in the first half of the year. I definitely recommend it.
If you’ve read The Valiant, what did you think of it?