Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie

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Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie
Valiant Cover Holly Black.jpg
Cover Photo of the paperback edition.
AuthorHolly Black
Cover artistSammy Yuen, Jr.
CountryUnited States
SeriesModern Tale of Faerie[1]
GenreYoung adult fantasy
PublisherSimon & Schuster
Publication date
June 2005
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Pages314 (first ed.)
LC ClassPZ7.B52878 Val 2005[2]
Preceded byTithe: A Modern Faerie Tale
Followed byIronside: A Modern Faery's Tale

Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie, is a young adult urban fantasy novel by Holly Black. It was published in 2005 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, who recommended it for ages "14 up".[2] Valiant is a sequel to Black's debut novel Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, and the second in a trilogy that is sometimes called [A] Modern Tale of Faerie (2002–2007).[1]

Where Tithe is set mainly on the Jersey Shore, Valiant is set in New York City. The two novels share a major premise, or fictional universe, but Valiant also works as a stand-alone story. According to online excerpts from a 2006 Locus interview and short biography of Black, "Valiant (2005) is another contemporary fantasy loosely related to Tithe, and Ironside, a direct sequel to Tithe, is forthcoming."[3]

Valiant won the inaugural Andre Norton Award as the year's best U.S. science fiction or fantasy for young adults as selected by vote of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFFWA).[4] It was also a finalist for the annual Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in children's literature, as Tithe had been.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

The book follows the life of runaway Valerie Russell in New York. Valerie is the child of a single mother and is quite tomboyish. At the start of the novel, Val attends high school, is a lacrosse player, and is best friends with the eccentric lesbian-identified Ruth.

Val discovers her boyfriend, Tom, and her mother are having an affair. Betrayed and not sure where to go, Val runs away to New York City. She meets up with a group of teen-squatters, including Lolli (as in lollipop), Dave, and Luis. Val earns the nickname "Prince Valiant" after she helps a drag queen locate her shoe.

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 also makes "Never", which faeries in exile take in order to resist iron. These exiles are dispersed throughout the city, and Dave and Luis must deliver the glamour to them.

Never can be used as a drug by humans, who can then use magic for a short time. It's highly addictive; a comparison can be drawn between it and heroin. Lolli and Dave introduce Val to "Nevermore", as they call it, and she, like the other squatters, is soon hooked.

Ravus, despite Val's first impressions, is much kinder than he appears. He begins to teach her swordplay and the bond between them strengthens. Val's mounting problems and addiction take a nasty turn, and the trust Ravus has in her is threatened.

Many of the Seelie court exiles are being poisoned and Ravus is blamed. When Ruth arrives, attempting to convince Val to come home, she refuses and Ruth insists she won't leave without Val. Val agrees to go home, but not before saying goodbye to Ravus. She attempts to find him in his alcove, but he is not home, so she finds Ruth, Lolli and Luis by Belvedere Castle. Luis, all the while making sexual thenceforwards with Lolli very unexpectedly, informs her Dave has angrily stormed off, and they all fall asleep in a terrible state. 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" run around freely. Ravus arrives, and delirious and half-starved, Val kisses him. He is pleased, until Mabry arrives as well, where Val realizes Mabry is the one who killed all the Fey. She tries to tell Ravus but Mabry cuts in, telling Ravus Val has been stealing his potions, and she flees as he becomes enraged.

Ruth and Val go to find evidence of Mabry's murders, and they find 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 other Luis and Lolli, and they realize that Dave is impersonating Luis, uncontrollably high off Never he got from Mabry after putting poison in Ravus' potions for her. Dave takes off his glamour, laughing, and falls unconscious. Ruth rushes him to the hospital as Lolli runs off, and Luis and Val rush to find Ravus so he can cure Dave. They find that Mabry has cut out Ravus' heart, and she runs off to the Unseelie Court with it. When she leaves, Val pulls back the curtains and turn Ravus to stone, and Val and Luis pursue Mabry into the Unseelie Court. She challenges Mabry to a first-blood duel for Ravus' heart with the glass sword belonging to Ravus, and after a moment's decision to never use Never again, she fights Mabry on talent alone, stabbing Mabry in the throat. She and Luis rush back to Ravus, and after placing his heart back into his chest, he instantly heals. Ravus gives Luis the tools to go heal his brother, and he and Val finally admit their love for one another.

Eventually, Val decides to leave the streets and return home with Ruth. She and Ravus continually see one another, and Val says she plans to go to NY for college so she can see him. The two kiss, and 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 in an abandoned train station; Dave, Lolli, and Luis. Val's new friends introduce her to the faery drug, Nevermore, which she becomes addicted to. Consequently, 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 lesbian 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. Val finds out that she was sleeping with Tom, Val's boyfriend, in the beginning of the book. Despite bad judgment, she genuinely cares for Val and is desperately worried when Val disappears.
  • "Sketchy" Dave – Luis's younger brother. He is also addicted to Nevermore. Dave is not particularly loyal to anyone 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 Val lives with. Lolli is in love with Luis, but he does not return her feelings. Lolli has long, faded, aqua blue hair and only watches out for herself. She is also addicted to Nevermore and is responsible for Val getting addicted to Never. She is also the one who discovered the powers that it 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.

Valiant introduces all of these main characters; none are from Tithe. Roiben and Kaye from Tithe do make appearances; Silarial and Nicnevin are referred to by Mabry.

Some fans have pointed out that Lolli, Dave and Luis are similar to Lutie-loo, Gristle and Spike from Tithe, respectively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Modern Tale of Faerie series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2014-05-07. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ a b "Valiant: a modern tale of faerie". Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  3. ^ "Holly Black: Through the Maze". Excerpts from interview and biographical profile published in Locus, May 2006. Locus Online. 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-07.
  4. ^ "Holly Black". Science Fiction Awards Database ( Retrieved 2014-05-08.
  5. ^ "Mythopoeic Awards – Fantasy" (list of winners and finalists). Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 2014-05-08.

External links[edit]