(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Tom Doherty Associates on January 16th 2018
Genres: Ancient Civilizations, Epic, Historical, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
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....
This was probably my favorite read this year.
I knew when I read the summary of this that I wasn’t going to be able to hold out reading it for long and I’m so glad I didn’t wait.
This book has everything I love in my YA reads… a fierce, brave, kick-ass protagonist and an engaging story filled with action and adventure.
I don’t even know where to start with my review if I’m being honest, and that should be an indication of how much I loved it. I’m seriously afraid I won’t be able to convey how much I enjoyed it.
Let’s start with setting – I have found that I have a deep appreciation for books set in ancient Rome. I adored Spartacus (the tv show, if you haven’t watched it – I highly recommend) and I think that kicked off my fascination with this time period. To say Wyk hit every right note on this for me would be an understatement. The politics of the time is so fascinating to me and I appreciate that this story didn’t just focus on the nobility.
Wyk also doesn’t hold back on the violence. These times were brutal and she conveys that with every word, every action, and every scene. Attia is a princess, taken violently from her family and forced into slavery. But she’s a warrior so she doesn’t go willingly or quietly and she fights for her freedom with bravery and determination. Hope for her freedom is one thing that she will never give up.
Attia is gifted to a Gladiator when she arrives in Rome and she is forced to face her prejudices about him and comes to realize that maybe the things she’s been taught aren’t entirely accurate. As a tentative friendship evolves into something more, we learn more about Xanthus. I actually really loved the subtlety of the romance in this story. It showed us a side of Attia that I think was a nice expansion of her character that we didn’t really see earlier in the story. I also really loved that Xanthus wasn’t trying to change who she was. Big kudos to Wyk for creating Xanthus in a way that shows his kindness and understanding for who Attia is and what she lost when she was taken.
My excitement for the second book in this series is completely ridiculous. I was afraid when I read this that it wasn’t a series (it wasn’t marked as one initially) but was incredibly relieved to find out that it will be and I will be waiting quite impatiently for book 2 to arrive! I have to know what happens next!
Overall, an amazing debut with tons of action, drama and bloody violence. Add in amazing and wonderfully developed characters and a setting that I can’t get enough of and this was for sure a 5 star read. Fans of historical fiction and ancient Rome are definitely going to want to get this one ordered now.
Thank you to the publisher for an early copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk is going on record as one of my favorite books read in 2017. There is so much right with this story – as soon as I finished it I wanted to dive into the rest of Attia’s story, so someone needs to make sure that happens. This book has emotion, danger, action and a million other things that prompt me to recommend this and encourage everyone to read it.
Attia was supposed to be a queen but when Thrace is invaded by Rome and the people decimated, the life Attia had planned for is completely changed. Now Attia is a slave and given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome. Despite his status, Xanthus is not a free man, but he has fought his way up in the ranks of the gladiators and with that status, he is presented with a gift in the form of Attia, from his master (Dominus).
I loved how the relationship developed between Attia and Xanthus. Attia has no reason to trust anyone and at first, she really doesn’t, but as she begins to learn more about where she is and who she is with, she figures out who she can rely on and who she can’t. As a slave, she also understands her choices are non-existent and Xanthus knows exactly what she is going through. He could have very easily become a domineering character, but he gives her the space she needs and allows her to make choices for herself when he can. As Attia and Xanthus become closer, a bond forms and eventually they realize they will do anything to protect the other from harm / danger.
The story revolves around these two characters but there is so much more going on here. As noted in the summary, this is the beginning of the story of Spartacus. Wyk has only touched the surface of the danger and deceit within the Roman empire and Attia and Xanthus are just two people in the midst of a larger story. I am excited to see where Wyk takes the story next.
One of the things I thought Wyk did really well was telling the story of these characters without getting too far down in the weeds of the politics and history. Don’t get me wrong there is some of that, but it doesn’t muddy the story down because in the end, the characters are the focus. There is plenty of action – these are gladiators and gladiators have to fight for their lives all the time. The action adds a layer to this story in that I never knew what was going to happen when someone stepped into the arena. In addition to the action, there was danger and deceit but there was also friendship and love.
In the end, this is an origin story for Spartacus so while we get glimpses into what is to come, we don’t have the full story and while there isn’t anything listed yet in Goodreads, I am hopeful that there is another book coming. Not only do I want the rest of Wyk’s interpretation on Spartacus’ story but I also need to know how things move forward for Attia based on the ending of Blood and Sand. If you don’t have this book on your TBR list yet, go add it now…I’m serious – GO NOW! I’m also serious when I say I will be stalking Wyk’s social media waiting to see if/when a book two is to follow and in the meantime, will have to re-read this book to dig into it all again!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!