Blood and Sand was an actual bloody explosion of sand (SURPRISE) and epicness.
This is absolutely a good time for us all to wave swords around and shout “SPARTACUS!” valiantly as Rome falls. Epic, okay? It was all so epic. I also have such a weakness for genderbent retellings, and this one is a historical retelling Spartacus. It reminded me of And I Darken, also a favourite, and I wish for 501 more retellings like this. *
This book also manages to be at least a little bit frikkin’ devastating. Excellent.
* Someone do an Alexander the Great = but as a WOMAN. I also could totally be down with the Napoleon wars okay?! Little time jump there, but we’re keeping up.
+ So HI we have Rome and Gladiators and slaves and rebellion.
Stab stab stab. This is a recipe for an epic book or an epic caesar salad! Exciting! I grew up reading historical fiction set in Rome, so it wasn’t startlingly “new” for me but I LOVED the spin on it and pretty much glued it to my face. (Also it smelled good. I don’t know if that counts for a good book, but it should.) The details of the Roman life and history felt super realistic and carefully done — although, full warning, this isn’t a “fully accurate tale”. The author’s note says there are creative liberties done. But HEY if you weren’t there in 79 AD, how do you even know what went down, hmm? This totally could be 100% honest.
+ It is pretty dark, but not graphic.
Look the Romans weren’t nice and the book definitely doesn’t shy away from mentioning the horrors people went through, especially the slaves. Conquests were not chill. Gladiators did not walk away from fights calmly. It talks about rape and murder and torture of slaves (but I think it kept it very YA geared).
+ Attia was flippin’ epic.
She’s the badass heroine I long to read about: equal parts terrifying and also emotional. She’s been raised a Thracian war princess, but she still has a HEART. Even if she tries to deny it. Basically what went down:
Attia: I will cut out your heart.
Attia: I will have revenge and bath in the blood of my enemies.
Attia: I will–
Servant: ok but you have to be nursemaid to your master’s 6yo niece
Attia: I hate children
Child: *whispers* hi
Attia was not faking the badassery and every scene where she fought was BRILLIANT. But she also was super protective over the little girl she has to look after while she’s enslaved and Attia’s aesthetic is basically: KNIVES BUT ALSO HEART EYES.
+ The other narrator is Xanthus who is a cute and deadly cinnamon scone.
I’m calling it: he’s such a Hufflepuff. Loyal to people who haven’t even earned it (DUDE) and super sweet when he can be (DUUUUDE) and yet a gladiator and completely terrifying (D U D E). He’s so respectful of Attia and even though she’s gifted to him as “his slave” he never never presumes anything of their relationship except to help her if he can. I only wish his storyline had been a bit deeper.
+ The romance was good but too fast.
The book is only 300pgs, and to get Attia who hATES EVERYTHING to fall for a guy she just met and was literally gifted to him as a bed slave…like. My dude. That takes some time getting over. But they went from “hey don’t touch me or you get a knife in the ribs” to “I WOULD DIE FOR YOU” super fast. Anyway, I liked them both! Just not sold on them together.
+ The story did seem slow despite being so short.
I definitely enjoyed it but felt not enough was always happening to move the plot in a direct fashion!? OR AM I JUST PICKY. It wasn’t boring but just some scenes were only Attia stewing in her soup and Xanthus would just be having an identity crisis somewhere else because he’s A BAD GLADIATOR but wants to be GOOD. I swear. He’s so freaking precious.
+ There were a lot of characters.
With a lot of Roman names. I have 7 people in my family and I don’t even have a clue what their names are half the time. So books with a hUGE cast and very similar names (Lucius, Lebuin, Lecretia???!?!?) have me frantically sweating.
+ And I don’t think you have to be a history nerd to enjoy it!
And by “history nerd” I just mean know ANYTHING about Spartacus (which I didn’t…ah hahahah). This is still epic and gripping and full of bloody and excellently complex characters.
Basically a heckin’ yes to this book.
It’s powerful and feministic and Attia will punch you for assuming she is a lesser being. Her comebacks are GOLD and the entire book was just empowering and exciting. (With a few cute scenes thrown in to make you “aww”.) Definitely an epic read and I would like mORE THANKS.
THANK YOU TOR TEEN FOR THE REVIEW COPY. Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk was published January 2018.
The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus…
For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.
Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.
Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.
Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…