A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Author's note explains the archaeological evidence of female gladiators. Insight into life in ancient Britain, the Roman conquest, and life in ancient Rome.
Each person has his or her own idea of what freedom is, and it can come in the most unexpected places. What you do is much more important than the praise or fame you get from doing it.
Positive Role Models
Fallon is a great model for a strong, fierce, independent fighter on equal footing with anyone and everyone. She's brave, loyal, smart, and thinks on her feet. Every time she falls, she gets back up, straightens herself out, and learns from her mistakes. Her friends are loyal, brave, and supportive. The bad guys act like villains, mostly out of pride and envy.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of combat and gladiator-type fighting with swords, arrows, spears, and knives. Blood is mentioned a lot as gushing, flowing, spurting. Moderate gore, including brief descriptions of a dead body with a broken neck, a severed hand, swords being run through bodies, and a ritual eating of a human heart. Scariness from tension, peril, creepy atmospheres, and dark omens. Slavery is everywhere: Fallon had slaves as the daughter of a Celtic chief, and she becomes one after being captured. She longs for freedom for herself and her loved ones, but she meets other slaves along the way who seem content with their lot and wouldn't want to change their lives. Violent treatment of slaves isn't shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Occasional passionate kissing and caressing with emotions and mild physical sensations briefly described.
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"Bitch," "bastard," "house of whores."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasional mention of beer, mead, and wine at social occasions. Fallon drinks wine so she won't be uptight at a party and later learns the wine was drugged with a mild hallucinogen. Sick feelings of a hangover are described. Mention that some people drink wine laced with a poppy-based concoction.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Valiant is about a Celtic princess who becomes a gladiator in ancient Rome after being captured into slavery. There's lots of violence from gladiator bouts and battles using swords, arrows, knives, and spears. Blood's mentioned a lot, and other gore is occasional and briefly described, such as a bone protruding from a severed hand. Fallon is a great role model as a fierce, brave, and smart warrior. Slavery is everywhere in the ancient world and explored briefly in how Fallon thinks about how she treated her own slaves before she was captured and in how some slaves are comfortable, maybe even happy, in their positions. Occasional romance involves passionate kissing and caressing. Strong language is rare and includes "bitch," "bastard," and "house of whores." Wine, mead, and beer appear at parties, and Fallon drinks wine once to relax for a party, learning later that it was laced with a mild hallucinogen, having a nightmarish experience, and being sick the next morning. The author's note mentions that the story is inspired by the real discovery of the grave of a gladiatrix (female gladiator), and that how many there may have been in ancient Rome remains controversial.
Is It Any Good?
Author Lesley Livingston has created a compelling heroine and placed her in the vivid backdrops of ancient Britain and Rome. Action and suspense keep The Valiant's pages turning, with a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. Fallon is easy to relate to as she struggles to understand her new reality on the way to emotional maturity. She's also a great role model for strong, fierce women unafraid to lay it all out on the line. Light on the romance, it's best for mature tweens and up who like a healthy mix of swordplay, battle action, intrigue, and historical settings.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.