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…
*ARC received as a part of a blog tour. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*
Trigger Warning – Slavery, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Physical Abuse, Suicidal Thoughts.
I need a minute to gather my thoughts here, okay? This one was an amazing, amazing story and such a wild ride. And that ending? Gosh, that left me needing more immediately. Can we have the next book right now? Because I would very much like for that to happen.
Blood & Sand seemed to be inspired from Pompeii (the Kit Harrington movie) on a lot of fronts. Maybe it was co incidental, maybe it wasn’t but I thought of that movie more than once while I was reading this story. And not just because they have a very similar setting. Especially with regards to Xanthus, the male lead in the story.
What I loved best about the book was Attia, for sure. Her character is absolutely amazing. She’s defiant, stubborn and brave. She values honour above all and she’s the last of her kingdom who is remaining after the Romans invade. Not knowing her royal heritage (she’s the crown princess), they assume her to be just a warrior and take her as a slave to Rome where she’s bought by a merchant. He buys her as a gift for his gladiator, Xanthus, who is called the Champion of Rome – the best gladiator around. I love how doesn’t give her trust freely and doesn’t have any naive notions of the life that’s ahead of her. She’s fierce and unafraid and she isn’t scared to protect those who are dear to her even if it means fighting multiple men at once. She is a really good role model.
Xanthus made me really emotional more than once. All the guilt and pain he carries is a little too much. I’m surprised he’s able to breathe after all that he feels. He’s kind and caring – something the Romans were never to him. He’s an honourable man in every sense of the word. Not in the way Mark Anthony calls Brutus with contempt and disgust, but the honourable man Julius Caesar believed Brutus was (I’m sorry! Reading this has awoken the Caesar nerd in me). He maybe his master’s champion and he may get a few concessions, but he’s still a slave and he hates what Romans have made of him – a murderer who kills people for sport. Yet, he handles himself in front of a crowd beautifully and never lets people see the demons he carries. He’s such a good person beneath it all and it makes my heart ache that his life has been full of so much bloodshed.
The romance in this so subtle, at times I forget it’s even there. I absolutely love the slow burn though. And I love how both Attia and Xanthus cross the bridge slowly. They first learn to trust each other and then they become friends, sort of, before crossing the line into becoming a couple (even though they’re not actually a couple because the master believes she’s his concubine). But, yes, the feelings are there and they care about each other very deeply. They fall in love by the end of the book and it happens gradually over a period of time, which I adore. They learn things about each other that are hidden from the world and actually see who the other person is before they learn to love them. I love how easily they accept each other. Their relationship is really beautiful and I loved watching them grow throughout the story.
Now, the plot. It’s really, really good! Somethings were predictable and I saw them coming but I enjoyed reading them unfold just the same because they were really well written. The pacing of the story is great and I didn’t find myself wishing for it to go faster or slower. I didn’t get bored. What I love is how the author didn’t shy away from showing gore. The action/fight scenes were brilliantly written and I particularly enjoyed them. And that ending! GAH! Like I said, I need book two now!
This was a truly riveting read and you should definitely go grab it ASAP!
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C.V. Wyk is the author of BLOOD AND SAND, debuting from Tor Teen in winter 2018. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Wyk now resides on the east coast along with a precocious mini poodle and demanding guinea pig.
In her not-so-spare time, she enjoys playing MMORPGs, kayaking, coding, hiking, staring listlessly at blank walls, and nursing a totally healthy coffee addiction.
1 Hardback of Blood & Sand (US & Canada Only) + Swag!