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.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Alcohol
Booklist (November 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 6))
Grades 8-12. Fallon, a 17-year-old Prydainian princess, runs away from home, only to be snatched by slavers who take her to Rome, where she is sold into service as one of Julius Caesar’s gladiatrices (female arena fighters). If she can earn enough fight money, she can purchase her freedom and seek vengeance on Caesar for his role in destroying her family during his conquest of Britain. It’s a great plan, but the Morrigan (Celtic goddess) has other ideas, and Fallon ends up fighting for more than just herself. Livingston has written an exciting and absorbing tale that is deftly paced and deliciously detailed without being overwhelming; the presence of a strong female character and light romance will extend its appeal. The book is tethered to history—there really were female gladiators, though the author’s note doesn’t point to any sources. Link this to Kate O’Hearn’s Valkyrie series or Julia Golding’s The Silver Sea (2010), but don’t limit recommendations to fans of historical fiction and mythology; try it with fans of the American Ninja Warrior television show, as well.
Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2016)
A Celtic princess is abducted, enslaved, and sent to a gladiatrix school in Julius Caesar’s Rome. Fallon wishes to follow in the footsteps of her warrior older sister, Sorcha, who was lost leading a war band to recover their father, the king, after he was taken prisoner during a Roman incursion into Prydain. But, unwilling to risk losing another daughter, he has other plans—plans that spiral into devastating, unintended consequences, culminating in Fallon’s abduction by slavers bound for Rome. While she doesn’t make it easy for them, they do get her to Rome, where she is sold at auction to a school that trains women to fight in the arenas. She grapples with her sense of honor while dealing with rivals, romance, a big surprise, and a bigger, hidden threat. Fallon’s warrior development follows a familiar trajectory in which her potential is annealed through hard work; the amount of rescuing she needs early on may frustrate. The forbidden romance isn’t as convincing as the lush setting, which includes a complicated depiction of Roman slavery in which even slaves have mixed opinions on the institution. The ending resolves the immediate crisis while leaving plenty of threads up in the air for sequels. An author’s note credits the 2001 discovery of evidence of real-life woman gladiators as the jumping-off point for this work of fiction. A familiar-feeling historical adventure elevated by use of setting. (Historical fiction. 12-16)
About the Author
Lesley Livingston is a writer and actress living in Toronto. She has a master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto, where she specialized in Arthurian Literature and Shakespeare. She frequently performs with the Tempest Theatre Group, of which she is a co-founder. She is also the author of Wondrous Strange and Darklight.
Her website is www.lesleylivingston.com.
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