Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Genre/Themes: Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 14th, 2017
The 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.
I’ve been a huge fan of Lesley Livingston ever since I read her Wondrous Strange and Starling series. She has an innate ability of writing really vivid characters that always feel like real people. I was really excited to read this book because even though I’m not a fan of historical fiction, I knew I’d enjoy her characterization, and I was right.
The idea of this novel was really interesting and unlike anything I’d ever read before. Taking the idea of female gladiators (gladiatrices) and creating a whole school for their training was brilliant. The whole purpose of this book was sisterhood and friendship, which is a really rewarding topic to read about. The plot was interesting and fast-paced, but there were parts that I found too rushed. It felt like everything happened really fast and there was never a real climax to the novel. The stakes weren’t as important as I thought they would be, and there was no sense of real urgency to the novel.
I also had a huge problem with the romance aspect to this novel. This wasn’t insta-love by any means, but it wasn’t much slower than that. Fallon had many suitors, and jumped from one to the other and I just didn’t find it charming or realistic. The whole romance storyline seemed a little too contrived.
Where this book shines is with the characters. Fallon is such a smart, strong character, but best of all, she’s not a special snowflake who can do everything. She fails, and is then forced to work hard to achieve her goals. Her abilities are realistic and not the product of some god-given special talent. Her relationships with her fellow gladiatrices are also very well-written. She’s not best friends with all of them, but there’s a level of respect and comradeship that’s really rewarding to read about. A lot of time female friendships in books are cutting, but not in this one.
While this book is the start to the series, this novel can be read as a standalone. However, I’m such a huge fan of Lesley Livingston that I can’t wait to read Book 2. I really enjoyed this book.
I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.