Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Valiant

HarperCollins 2017. 378 pages
First published: 2017
ISBN: 9781443446280 (hardcover)
9781443446297 (paperback)
9781443446303 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Fantasy

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, dialogue, figurative language, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Ancient history comes alive in this action-packed page-turner that recounts the adventures of 17-year-old Fallon, a Celtic warrior princess, who is captured as a slave, then trained as a gladiator to fight for her life in Rome’s arenas.

Based on what is known about life under the Roman Empire, Fallon’s adventures span Roman-occupied Britain, Gaul’s bustling port of Massilia, a pirate attack at sea, the Roman slave auction and much more. Descriptive language skillfully conjures up feelings (“Scalp to sole, I was one long mile of misery”) and settings (“A break in the clouds spilled down moonbeam, and I looked down to see my reflection … green eyes glowing like the eyes of the cats we kept to kill rats.”)

Smarts, strength and fighting skills of all kinds are featured in this rousing tale of warrior women, including the queen of “Aegypt” herself—Cleopatra. Throughout, Fallon’s observant voice is touched with humour: “This was the kind of warfare I’d dreamed about as a little girl … this was the dance I’d longed for—Maybe without the kick to the stomach.”

Romance with Caius, the compelling Roman decurion, and revelations about Fallon’s own family history, add frisson and heart to the adventure, but in the end this is a story of one fierce young woman coming into her own: “I’d come to realize that freedom—real freedom—was something that could be found in the most unexpected places, even on the sands of the arena.”

  •  

    The text incorporates elements of historical fiction as well as romance, adventure and fantasy. It also seeks to subvert gender stereotypes and social conventions.

  •  

    In small groups, discuss which genre categories this book might fit into. Is it historical fiction? Romance? Fantasy? Support your ideas with examples from the text and identify the elements that contribute to genre.

  •  

    Include this novel in a text set for genre study and/or literature circles centred on pertinent ideas and issues.

  •  

    Research the history of female gladiators in Ancient Rome. How common were they? How were they perceived? Where did they come from? How old were they? When were they most popular? Who would they fight? Discuss your answers in a small group.

  •  While you read, take note of expressions or words you can’t understand through context. Use resources to find their meanings.
  •  

    With a partner, discuss what you believe the future holds for Fallon and Cai. Write a script of the conversation they might have about their future, after Fallon’s final battle against Nyx. Read the script for the class.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To cooperate with others
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences