Blood and Sand by C. V. Wyk
Published: January 16th 2018 by Tor Teen
FORGED IN BATTLE…
FROM THE DUST OF THE ARENA…
A LEGEND WILL RISE
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…
NOTE: I received an ARC copy of this from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way influences my opinion.
I am going to be honest and say that I don’t really know a lot about the Spartacus legend, except the fact that he was a gladiator and the whole I AM SPARTACUS shenanigans. I liked the fact that I went into this not really knowing much about the original because it meant that I could see the story with a fresh pair of eyes, rather than constantly comparing it. I really really enjoyed this story, even though it had a bit of a slow beginning.
As mentioned, the beginning was a little slow. Whilst there was a lot of action in the first couple of pages, the pacing of the book dipped a little after that and it needed some time before the pacing was really fitting with the book. There were times at the beginning that were slow and where I had to push through a little bit, but it was definitely worth it. When the pacing and the events of the story begins to pick up, it was impossible to put the book down! I had to know what was going to happen next and I was not let down.
This story is also told from the perspective of two characters – Xanthus and Attia. I loved seeing this story from both their PoVs because they were both a huge part of the story. Both characters were unique and had their own voices, so it was easy to keep track of which PoV I was reading at any given time. I probably would have preferred to have had some sort of header (Xanthus, Attia) when the PoV changes because it changed at random moments and from paragraph to paragraph depending on what was going on at the time and it was sometimes a bit confusing to be reading from the PoV of one character, to then switch to the next with no real warning.
I LOVED the world building! I honestly felt like I could have been in Rome/Pompeii (depending on where they were) at this particular point in history. I could easily imagine the rich families and their slaves, the gladiator fights etc. No matter how often I put the book down, I was always sucked right back into it when I picked it up again and it was easy to get lost in it. I also liked the fact that the author kept things in keeping with the history of the Roman times, as opposed to changing things up to make it more appropriate to the YA genre.
Another thing the author did well was to create a slow burn romance, as opposed to the insta love trope. A lot of YA Fantasy novels fall into the insta love trope and it often ruins that part of the story because it just doesn’t fit. Wyk did a great job of building up the trust between the two characters and watching things slowly unfurl. Both characters were naive when it came to love and it was cute to watch both of them try and tread the waters around it, whilst not trying to scare off the other one.
As mentioned above, I don’t really know a lot about Spartacus and the original legend. I do, however, know that in the original legend, Spartacus was male. I enjoyed the fact that Wyk has taken the legend and turned it around by gender reversing Spartacus. I loved the way she used the history of Rome and the way in which they saw women, and used that against some of the characters in the way in which they viewed/thought who Spartacus was, because they never suspected anything. It was a great representation of gender reversal and I am looking forward to seeing where Wyk is going to take it in book 2.
I also just want to quickly mention the ending. I don’t to give any spoilers away, so this may seem really really vague, but for those of you who have read it, will understand. I feel that the way in which the book ended was a little pointless? I don’t feel that things needed to go down the way it did with certain characters, and I feel that it was more used as a plot device to spur another character on, rather than something that probably should have been emotional for the reader. I am hoping that a huge twist is going to come some time in book 2 (which is actually what I believe is going to happen in book 2), because, if it doesn’t happen, I feel that what could have been a really emotional ending was pretty much ruined.
All in all I absolutely loved this story! The world building was rich and magical and I am so excited for book 2 (why do I have to wait so long?). I am so excited to see where the characters will end up going and what is going to happen next. I gave this book 4/5 stars.
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