Review: The Valiant

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Her entire life Fallon has trained to be a warrior like her sister Sorcha. Although her sister was killed in battle by Caesar’s forces her shadow looms large in Fallon’s daily life. She spends her days training with her friend and love Maelgwyn, and eagerly awaits the day when her father, King Virico, will accept her into his war band. Fearing that she may come to the same fate as her sister,  Virico does not accept Fallon into the war band, instead he gives her hand in marriage to a man who is not her beloved. Devastated by her father’s betrayal Fallon runs out into the night and is captured by slave traders. The slaver Charon recognizes Fallon is not like the other slaves and he sells her and fellow slave Elka to the elite school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. When Fallon learns of the true identity of her lanista, the woman who runs the school  on Caesar's behalf, she decides fighting as a gladiatrix is not the curse she had previously thought it to be, but the opportunity to fight valiantly that she has desired all her life. Fallon finds help to achieve her goal  and to navigate life in Rome from fellow slave turned gladiatrix Elka, Charon the slaver, and the handsome Roman legionnaire Caius Varro. 

Having read and enjoyed Lesley Livingston's series Wondrous Strange, when I was given the opportunity to receive an ARC of The Valiant I leapt at the chance. A YA novel set in ancient Rome by an author I know and like? Sounds great! In Wondrous Strange Livingston delves into her knowledge of Shakespeare's works to create a Faerie worthy of the bard that translates into YA fiction. Before I started reading I was optimistic that Livingston would apply the same research and creativity into her version of ancient Rome. As someone with a BA and MA in Classical Studies I have more knowledge of the ancient world than the typical reader and on the whole I can say that Livingston's depiction of the ancient Roman world was fairly accurate! Particularly her description of Caesar's campaign in Britain and her characterization of Cleopatra. 
However, there were some small details that irked me as a classicist. Livingston's depiction of the baths started out accurately with her description of the series of pools in differing temperatures but  a few minor details ruined the illusion for me. She romanticizes the baths by describing the water clean and perfumed. I know of a few academic articles that argue to the contrary that the baths were disgusting by modern standards. Before they are sold at the slave auction, Livingston has Fallon and Elka  bathe under supervision and are not allowed to leave the baths until they have scrubbed off all the filth of their journey with soap. The ancients did not scrub with soap as we would today. Rather they would apply olive oil to their skin and they would scrape all the grit and dirt of the day away with a tool called a strigil. It may seem picky and pretentious to  complain about small details like this but  I believe it is important to do the research! Despite my complaints, overall I really enjoyed The Valiant and gave it four stars on goodreads. 

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images