by C.V. Wyk
Published on January 16, 2018 by Tor Teen
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
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....
Roma Victor. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to build 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....
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Return to the age of gladiators with Blood and Sand, a take on Spartacus and a time when men fought to the death in the arena. Before I go any farther, I just want to say that this review is totally biased because I love anything related to gladiators and Spartacus (I swear I’ve watched the TV show on Netflix at least half a dozen times). So I went into this book already planning to love it.
Spoiler alert: I totally did.
Blood and Sand filled my need for all things ancient Rome. The world is grounded enough in history to feel authentic despite obvious liberties taken with the Spartacus persona and events that played out. Wyk really captured the feel of ancient times and looked beyond the “nobility” into the lives of civilians. At times, the story moved slower than I expected but the action picked up by about halfway through and it’s a quick read so I still flew through it.
There are aspects of this book that aren’t nice or pretty. There’s blood. There’s violence. But there’s also hope and strength and honor. There’s something bright in what could be a darker book. I think the strong themes of both slavery and freedom really pulled through and I loved the transformation the characters underwent.
Attia is absolutely fierce. A warrior princess taken as a slave and sold into a home to be the “prize” for a champion gladiator, her people killed, her hope of escape dimming by the day, she has a lot to fight against. And she does. This is a young woman who won’t let anything or anyone stand in her way. At the same time, her bias toward a certain people (Romans) shines through and she’s forced to question that bias and grow as a person, realizing that Romans are as different from each other as her own people were.
I expected the story to be solely from her perspective but it turns out that it alternates between her and Xanthus, the gladiator she’s given to. He’s fighting his own demons and now has to deal with a spitfire princess. They had a nice friendship develop over the course of the book and I think I would have preferred it to stay that way. Instead, it turned into a romance and I wasn’t feeling it. It felt underdeveloped compared to their friendship and a bit unnecessary too. This book is so good and I don’t think it needed the romance subplot added on.
Other than that. . . well, I may have freaked out a bit thinking this was a standalone because I’d heard nothing about a sequel and IT NEEDS ONE (it’s okay, though, because I learned it’s going to be a series and everything is right with the world once more). That ending was KILLER. I kept reading and reading and then it was just. . . over. And I felt a bit lost because I need to know what happens next. It was almost as bad as the cliffhanger from Fire Falling by Elise Kova.
This is a debut that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. A bit of drama, historical goodness, a dash of romance, and plenty of fierce ladies (and gentlemen too), Blood and Sand is a must read!