Book Review

Book Review: The Triumphant (The Valiant #3) by Lesley Livingston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Historical fiction
Length: 416 pages
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 12th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The final book in the Valiant series takes Fallon and her warrior sisters on an epic journey from the corrupt Roman Republic to the wonder of the ancient world: Alexandria, Egypt.

“You are from a world, Fallon, that values honor over everything else. Rome is not that world.”

In the wake of their victorious fight to win back the Ludus Achillea, Fallon and her gladiatrix sisters have become the toast of the Republic. Only for Fallon, glory turns to ashes when she learns that Cai has been stripped of his Decurion rank and declared infamia, cast down to serve as one of Caesar’s gladiators. All because he chose his love for her over the life of his treacherous father during the ludus uprising.

But treachery in Rome runs far deeper than Fallon ever suspected. While she is fighting for Cai’s freedom, the unthinkable happens and the Republic begins to tear itself apart at the seams. In the chaos that follows, the Achillea gladiatrices lose any protection they might have had once and for all. They’re not the only ones.

When Fallon discovers that Cleopatra is in grave danger, she and her sister Sorcha rally their war band in an attempt to spirit the Queen of Aegypt out of Rome, embarking on a remarkable journey that will take them to Alexandria—the wonder of the ancient world—and beyond. Far beyond. Along the way, Fallon will have to decide where her heart truly lies, as well as what—and who—she is willing to sacrifice to get there. 

SOLID SERIES ENDER.

I’m on a quest to work through some of the series I’ve started (and want to continue). This is one of them! A fantastic audio read too if you’re interested in that.

I thought things wrapped up really nicely. I wasn’t sure how the everything was going to go down. And for Fallon, Cai and the rest of their group I thought things went as best as they could. There clearly needed to be an end up and with the addition of historical figures and scenes, there was.

There was sooooo much happening here. Action to the brim with gladiator matches, escaping on chariots and dodging weapons. There’s rebellion and a whole new adventure. Not to mention, this romance is STELLAR. A couple who fights together. Not only to BE together but to SURVIVE together. Oh y’all. I love Cai and he has me absolutely smitten. What a cinnamon roll.

The last scenes kind of wrapped up quickly? I thought it was wild to add in another whole battle segment, but I guess it did give closure to a few villain character lines that needed snuffed out so Fallon and Cai could have some actual peace. It was engrossing and I’m so happy that I read this series through. I feel like it’s a bit of a hidden gem and definitely one to pick up!!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical Fiction
  • Language: none to very little
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: intense violence with many depictions of blood & gore, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: The Defiant (The Valiant #2) by Lesley Livingston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
Length: 374 pages
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Gladiator Fallon and her warrior sisters must face off against a rival gladiator academy in this lush sequel to the highly anticipated historical fantasy The Valiant.

They call her “Victrix” now. Victory.

But winning the highest honor ever bestowed upon a gladiatrix in Rome has earned Fallon more deadly enemies outside the arena than she ever faced within it. And it is those dearest to Fallon who will pay the price for her success.

Now, Fallon and her warrior sisters are thrust into a vicious conflict with a rival gladiator academy, one that will threaten not only Fallon’s heart – and her love for Roman soldier Cai – but the very heart of the Roman Empire.

MORE INTO THIS.

We all know the terror of reading a second book and feeling let down. This series [to me] did not have that happen! I felt more invested in the characters and story the second time around. I felt like I knew them more and that more things made sense.

I’m happy that the romance was way easier to enjoy. I thought it was rushed and iffy in the first book. I found myself utterly smitten with Cai in this book and how much he wants to be a partner with Fallon. I like that they’re on the same side and their quiet moments were tender and I better get a happy ending in the last book.

There was plenty of action in this book! It’s fantastic getting a lot of bad-a women being gladiators and owning it and taking down creepy cult groups. YES. While there is a romantic sub-plot the focus is on the group of women as a whole.

I love how the history of Rome weaves through the story. Talk of Caesar, coups, politics, Cleopatra, war. It helps bring the story to life and listening on audio has been stellar in this format.

Not quite sure why there’s a book three or what it will intend (I usually don’t read synopsis for later books), but I definitely intend on reading it!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, swords, arrows, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult historical fiction / fantasy
Length: 372 pages
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

HERE FOR FEMALE GLADIATORS.

I read this based off of a recommendation an old friend gave me. She reads a lot of the books I recommend and I wanted to do the same for her (since we have very similar tastes). Y’all, this was a great book! I’m so happy I picked this up and definitely want to read the next one.

The setting was off the charts. I am fascinated by the Roman Empire and its history. I haven’t come across many (if all, because I can only thing of Blood and Sand right now), that use Rome has a historical fiction setting. LOVE IT LOVE IT. I found the interweaving of real life people like Julius Caesar and Cleopatra to be thrilling. I personally didn’t know that there were even female gladiators to begin with! I enjoyed reading the little note at the end about some of the history Livingston found to add some background to these fierce ladies.

Romance was fine. That was probably the only downside to The Valiant. I thought it was starting off slow (which I’m totally cool with) because Cai wasn’t in the story that much. Then I realized…he’s really not in the story that much. Until the later second half of this book do we see him more consistently. Any interactions between Cai and Fallon are full speed ahead while I’m trying to catch up with if I even ship them or not. It left a bit to be desired, but I’m hopeful in the next book I’ll get a larger flourish of them together.

There was a twist or two I did see coming that didn’t ruin the plot for me. I actually liked where it went and how all of the information played into Fallon’s life. Fallon was an amazing heroine. Brave, a bit stubborn, loyal and real. I cheered for her in her battles and on and off the fields of battle.

I’m curious how everything will further unfold in the next book. Caesar and Cleopatra are definitely playing a part in it and I think that is so cool. I didn’t even know that they actually had a relationship until this book (and a bunch of Googling afterwards).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction / fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: gladiator battles, sword fighting, arrows; fairly bloody and gory
  • Trigger warnings: witnessing the loss of a loved one, slavery (Fallon is taken by a Roman slave trader and sold to a house for female gladiators)

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