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I am a fan, of Holly Black and loved her first book in the series - TITHE (you can see My review HERE!) So naturally I went to the next book Valiant. I wanted more from the edgy, dark faery characters and settings.
The second book is very different as it not keep from the point the Tithe End. This is a very powerful book that deal with very difficult subjects like -
- Betrayal and trust
- Running from home
- Addiction and its affects
- The true meaning of family and friendship
- About choices and making decisions and living with them.
The set of the book is start at New Jersey and move quickly in New York.
It has a completely different set of characters and the old set appear only vaguely, for a blip of time at the end of the book.
Valerie (Val) is the only child of a single mother that divorced from her father. Her relationships with him and his new family is distance and cold. Val is quite tomboyish. At the beginning of the novel, we are meet her is as a lacrosse player attending high school, and her eccentric best friends Ruth.
When Val discovers that her boyfriend, Tom, and her mother are having an affair. Betrayed and not sure where to go, Val runs away to New York City. there she meets a group of teen-squatters, Lolli (as in lollipop), Dave, and Luis.
On her first day with the gang, Val earns the nickname "Prince Valiant" It was after she helped a drag queen locate her shoe. This may be in homage to the Hal Foster comic strip Prince Valiant (or Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur). Though she earns the trust of the rest of the group, Luis remains wary of Val.
She soon learns about the group's contact with a troll, Ravus. He lives beneath a bridge, a reference to the traditional fairy tale "Three Billy Goats Gruff". Ravus is the pruducer of the medicine, "Never", which faeries in exile take in order to resist the iron sickness in the human world. The exiles are dispersed throughout the city, and Dave and Luis must deliver the medicine to them. Luise own a great favor to Ravus because he saved Dave's life, after he had been shot by his own father.
Their father was a seer like Luis and he could see through the glamor of the fairies. This ability push him over the edge as we already talked about the fickle way of them. Anyway he did it in his one moments of despair, when he cam to conclusion that human can only lose against the canny creatures and to this world he can't have his family so he planed to kill them all and then kill himself. he succeed to kill their mother and wounded Dave badly. (This subject of the cruel nature of the fairies will be discussed in more details, in the next in the trilogy)
But, here is the problem humans can take Never too, But for them it is an addictive drug. The differance from other known drugs which can give you the feeling of omnipotent powers Never can give you to ability to do magic for a short time. And both things the drug and the magic both are highly addictive. Lolli and Dave introduce Val to "Nevermore", as they call it, and she, like the other squatters, is soon hooked. In the book there is descriptions of the path of their falling without trying to make accuses of trying to soften the hard facts.
The relationships inside the group is weird . Dave is fell for Lolli but she is going after his brother, which ignore her. She actually drive Dave crazy. As the time goes by Dave attraction to Lolli got a sick turn same time as their addiction to the nevermore got worsen. He tried to make her jealous by convincing Val to make out with him.
Ravus, despite Val's first impressions as a fairy and a troll, is much kinder than he appears. when she impressed him with her spirit and courage, he begins to teach her swordplay and the bond between them strengthens. But things got from bad to worse.Now too many exiles from the fairies courts are found dead by being poisoned and Ravus is the main suspect.
Things were going down the hill quickly, when Val's friend Ruth suddenly appear in NY, in attempted to convince her to return home. On the same eve the police appeared in their hiding place, Dave use magic and one of the police woman turn dead. of course, they had been forced to abandon. Ruth insists that Val must go home now and that she won't leave without her. Val agrees, but not before she is going to say goodbye to Ravus. She went to look for him in his alcove under the bridge, but he is not home.
After along hours in waiting she looked for Ruth, Lolli and Luis by Belvedere Castle as they plan a head. Things turn weirder and weirder as Luis suddenly stated to hit on Lolli, and they made sexual thenceforward ignoring all other things around. Luis informs Val that Dave has angrily stormed off, and nobody saw him since then.
In the middle of the night, Val awakes to see a tree-spirit faerie, who leads her to a festival by the water, where faeries and humans called "sweet tooths" (anthrall to fairy) run around freely. Ravus arrives, and delirious and half-starved, Val kisses him. He was pleased, until Mabry arrives as well. Val had learned that Mabry is the one who was poisoning all the Fey and her it her purpose to incriminate Ravus to avenge him about an old matter that she see him accountable for.
Val tries tell this to Ravus but Mabry cuts in, telling Ravus Val has been stealing his potions. All the trust Ravus has in her is threatened when he discover about her addiction and her stealing from him and she flees away as he becomes enraged. But didn't quit, she was determine to prove it to him and the fearies who was looking after him.
Val and Ruth went to find evidence for Mabry's murders. After they broke into Mabry place, they found a harp in which Mabry has strung the hair of those she's killed, including that of Tamson, Ravus' best friend and Mabry's ex-lover. When the hairs are plucked, they sing of their deaths, revealing that Mabry is responsible for Tamson's death and Ravus' exile. The girls also find Luis.
The three of them come back to the false Luis and Lolli, and they realize it all the was Dave, uncontrollably high on Never he got from Mabry. In porpuse to win Lolli he made a deal with her, in In return he had to putt the poison in Ravus' potions for her. Now that his scheme discovers, Dave takes off his glamor, laughing madly, and lose his conscious. Ruth rushes with him to the hospital and Lolli runs off.
Luis don't hold a gradge, aftet all dave his little brother and he is still responsible for him. So, Luis and Val rush to find Ravus so he can cure Dave. They find him lying on the floor dying, Mabry has cut out his heart, and runs off to the Unseelie Court with it, so they can cancel her exile and take her back. The only way to gain time was , to pulls back the curtains and turn Ravus to stone, and then pursue Mabry into the Unseelie Court in new New Jersey and also Val's home.
In the Unseelie Court Val (and here we encountered Roiben as King and the pixie Kaye beside him) challenges Mabry to a first-blood duel for Ravus' heart. The king approve the dual, and Val start it with the glass sword belonging to Ravus. In this time she had to face her craving to the never, she know that it can help her with the magic but in the same time it is untrustworthy, as it can unbalance her too.
After this thing battle inside her, she finally decided not use the Never ever. Val fights Mabry on talent alone, stabbing Mabry in the throat and win. She and Luis rush back to Ravus, to place his heart back into his chest, has a fairy it is working for him as he instantly heals. Ravus gives Luis the tools to go heal his brother, and he and Val finally admit their love for one another.
The important decision that Val made is to forgive. She forgave her mom and succeed to her her love to her. Eventually, make her leave her drifting, streets life, and return home. She and Ravus continually will see one another, and Val says she plans to go to NY for college so she can see him. Val is happy her life is back to normal, with the exception of having a faerie for a boyfriend and never being able to introduce him to her mother.
Valerie "Val" Russell – Val is the protagonist. She finds out that her mother is having an affair with her boyfriend, Tom, and runs away from home. Desperate for change, she shaves her head and takes up living with a trio of homeless teenagers; Dave, Lolli, and Luis. Val's new friends introduce her to the fairy drug Nevermore to which she becomes addicted to. She gets caught in the homeless people's secret relationship with the faeries living among them. Midway through the book, she begins to learn swordplay from Ravus, a local troll, and eventually falls in love with him.
Ruth – Val's best friend. It turns out that she knew all about Tom and Val's mother. Several weeks after Val runs away, Ruth comes to find her and refuses to go home without Val.
Tom – Val's ex-boyfriend. He was having an affair with her mother, which resulted in Val running away.
Ms. Russell - Val's Mother. She and Val's father are divorced. In the beginning of the book, Val finds out that she had an affair with Tom, Val's boyfriend. Despite bad judgment, she genuinely cares for Val and is desperately worried when Val disappears.
"Sketchy" Dave – Luis's younger brother. Fall madly in love with Lolli, He is also addicted to Nevermore. Dave is not particularly loyal to anyone (not family nor friends) but himself, and strikes a deal with Mabry to frame Ravus for poisoning fey in exchange for her temporarily locking up Luis and also some more Never. Dave is in love with Lolli and resents his brother for her attraction towards him.
Lollipop (Lolli) – One of the homeless teenagers that introduced Val into the gange. Lolli is in love with Luis, but he does not return her feelings. Lolli has long aqua blue hair and only watches out for herself. She is also addicted to Nevermore and is responsible for Val getting addicted. She is also the one who discovered the powers that Never gives humans.
Luis – Dave's older brother. He has the Sight and lives in almost perpetual fear of the faerie folk. As a precaution against them, he had multiple iron piercings put in his face. He is blind in one eye, which was put out by a faerie when he was very young. Luis is easily the most responsible of the homeless teens, and would do anything for his brother, Dave, even though Dave typically resents the help. Before the book takes place, he struck a deal with Ravus to heal Dave from a gunshot wound in exchange for Luis' help with deliveries.
Ravus – A "young" troll whom Luis and Dave do errands for. He is a healer and makes medicine for the city fey to ease their sickness to iron. He is accused of poisoning several fey who die subsequent to taking his medicine. Ravus was self-banished from the faerie courts after he accidentally slew his best friend in a duel. Midway through the book, he begins to teach Val swordplay, and eventually falls in love with her.
Mabry – A half-goat fey who is responsible for the death of Ravus' friend. She was his lover, and weakened his armor during the duel so that when Ravus struck it, it offered no protection. Her plan backfired when she was banished with Ravus to "mourn her loss". She hates Ravus and planned to get revenge on him by framing him for a series of fey poisonings.