Two Teen Titles On Gladiators | SLJ Spotlight

Two YA titles that highlight women warriors, including Lesley Livingston's follow-up to The Valiant.
Perhaps it’s a spin on the “female warrior saves the day” trend, but there seems to be an uptick in woman gladiator–­centered tales. Dig deep into these ­complex Ancient Rome settings and Spartacus-inspired works. We promise you’ll be entertained.

Livingston, Lesley. The Defiant. 384p. (Valiant: Bk. 2). Penguin/Razorbill. Feb. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780448494722.

Gr 7 Up –Fallon and her warrior sisters return in this powerful tale of treachery, Roman secret societies, and gladiatrix. Fueled by the desire to regain control of the Ludus Achillea from the Son of Dis, Fallon enlists the help of the legendary Amazon and two Roman Legionaries in this page-turning sequel to The Valiant. Strong female characters lead this Ancient Roman story that captures the political subterfuge and geographical diversity characteristic of Caesar’s Rome. The strength of family, both blood relatives and family by choice, permeate as the gladiatrix of the Ludus Achillea put themselves in danger in order to rescue their leader, friends, and training academy. The women quickly discover that it will take the strength, smarts, and bravery of each member of their war clan in order to defeat Pontius Aquila and the other members of the Son of Dis. Clearly a second in a series, this volume will be best appreciated by those who have familiarity with the previous installment. While readers can enjoy the thrilling fight scenes and strategic adventure of the novel, it is clear this is not a stand-alone and the backstory is necessary for a complete understanding of the events and characters. VERDICT An action-packed sequel that will complement larger YA collections.–Jo Schofield, Cuyahoga Library, OH

redstarWyk, C.V. Blood and Sand. 320p. Tor Teen. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765380098. POP

Gr 8 Up –Weaving two stories together—that of Attia, a 17-year-old Thracian warrior princess, and of Xanthus, a gladiator—Wyk crafts a cast of relatable characters whose lives have been thrown together as a result of massacre. Within a matter of days, Attia goes from being the princess of Thrace to being a slave girl in a gladiator household. She is purchased at an auction by the House of Timeus to be given as a gift to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome. A skilled fighter, Attia immediately escapes by breaking the bones of her captors, climbing buildings, and running as fast as possible. She is ultimately caught and branded and learns that she needs to follow instructions and lie low until she is able to kill Timeus and seek revenge on Crassus Flavius, the man responsible for the murder of her Thracian comrades. Meanwhile, Attia gets to know Xanthus, only to find out that he is also a slave to Timeus, bought as a child and forced to learn how to fight as a gladiator. Xanthus is training for the fight of his life: a chance to battle the man who murdered his people, Decimus. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius changes everyone’s plans and each character must fight to survive. A surprise ending will leave readers wanting more. Only slightly similar in theme to Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse, this debut is a unique addition to Ancient Roman historical fiction. This stunning series starter reads like a movie, with lengthy action scenes and strong imagery that allow readers to enjoy the narrative on a different level. VERDICT Recommended for all young adult collections.–Kristin Unruh, Siersma Elementary School, Warren, MI

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