Title: The Triumphant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Series: The Valiant #3
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Published: February 12th, 2019 (Razorbill)
Synopsis: The final book in the Valiant series takes Fallon and her warrior sisters on an epic journey from the corrupt Roman Republic to the wonder of the ancient world: Alexandria, Egypt.
In the wake of their victorious fight to win back the Ludus Achillea, Fallon and her gladiatrix sisters have become the toast of the Republic. Only for Fallon, glory turns to ashes when she learns that Cai has been stripped of his Decurion rank and declared infamia, cast down to serve as one of Caesar’s gladiators. All because he chose his love for her over the life of his treacherous father during the ludus uprising.
But treachery in Rome runs far deeper than Fallon ever suspected. While she is fighting for Cai’s freedom, the unthinkable happens and the Republic begins to tear itself apart at the seams. In the chaos that follows, the Achillea gladiatrices lose any protection they might have had once and for all. They’re not the only ones.
When Fallon discovers that Cleopatra is in grave danger, she and her sister Sorcha rally their war band in an attempt to spirit the Queen of Aegypt out of Rome, embarking on a remarkable journey that will take them to Alexandria—the wonder of the ancient world—and beyond. Far beyond. Along the way, Fallon will have to decide where her heart truly lies, as well as what—and who—she is willing to sacrifice to get there.
“You are from a world, Fallon, that values honor over everything else. Rome is not that world.”
Following their victory, the gladiatrices of the Ludus Achillea are once more favoured by the masses in Rome, but Cai has not been so lucky. Patricide is not a crime treated lightly amongst the Romans, no matter the reason, but with Caesar’s intervention, Cai is dismissed from the legions and sent to train as a gladiator. Fallon is very unhappy with the turn of events, but before much can be done, Rome is plunged into chaos. History takes its course, and when Caesar is assassinated, Fallon knows that Rome is no longer safe for her or her sisters, not now that the privilege and protection they enjoyed from Caesar is gone. In graver danger however, is Cleopatra, the Queen of Aegypt, and the girls of the Ludus Achillea leave Rome for the last time, setting out on a mission to get the queen home safely.
For the past two years, Fallon has rebuilt her life around the ludus and the arena. And when all of that is taken away in the blink of an eye, she is forced to consider where her path lies, who she truly is. I particularly love how conflicted Fallon was about Caesar’s death – as a slave, she should be rejoicing at her enemy’s fall, but her new life as Victrix is all due to him. Fallon as a character has come so far, and in this book, I could finally see the warrior princess make a reappearance. That goes for all the characters, particularly Elka, whose friendship with Fallon really shines. As for Cai, I think I might have liked him even more than Fallon in this book! Despite the fast pacing of these books, I’m always surprised to realize just how attached I’ve gotten to these characters!
The Triumphant is filled with some excellent fight scenes and battle sequences – both in the arena and out of it. Apart from the fighting though, I really did like how the Ides of March was used as the turning point for this last book, and how everything moving forward is driven by this. Marc Antony’s cameo was interesting, and I would have liked to see more of his character considering how crucial he was to the events of this time period. It was also nice to see Kassandra again, though, between her name and the fact that she was having visions, it was a huge giveaway what her purpose in the story was going to be.
This time around, the book was not as short and it felt like a much more well-rounded adventure. However, I thought that the ending was too fast and too easy. There was such potential for that final conflict and while what was portrayed was definitely good, I felt more could have been done – after all, Fallon returning home after two years – spent in Rome no less – should be a pretty big deal. I’d hoped for atleast a little family drama there.
Overall, this was a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful trilogy. Fallon’s journey has been a wonderful one to follow and I was quite happy with how everything was wrapped up. I would definitely recommend this series for historical fiction fans and also for those newer to the genre. Such an action-packed series is a great place to start before getting into the deeper novels.
Other reviews in this series: