5-Star Review: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
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...
What an incredible surprise of a book. The premise of Blood and Sand was enough to suck me in, but what stunning writing and gorgeous storytelling. I was absolutely hooked by chapter two, and couldn't put it down even as I wanted to savor the experience of reading it. I'm talking sneaking pages in during lunch break, reading in the car, forgetting everything else you're supposed to be doing obsessive reading.
I loved all the characters, and not just the main ones, though they are certainly ones that will stick in your head long after you put the book down. Attia is a badass, a warrior queen beloved by her people and raised to take over her father's role as leader. When Attia is taken to Rome as a spoil of war and given to a Gladiator as a prize, they form a (maybe likely) bond. It's a slow burn romance, but never first place to the characters' stories of trying to get back home.
There are no foils here; everyone feels full and fleshed out. Xanthus's brothers are fantastic characters, and each feels different from the next. The women are complex and fully formed.
And the pacing! Holy hell. It's quick (there's a ticking clock for sure, ensuring you keep flipping those pages), even as C.V. Wyk makes time to linger in those important quiet moments that build out the interior lives of the characters.
And oh god, that ending. How will I wait until 2019 for Book 2?
Should you read it? Don't get me wrong--this book and its characters go to dark places, though I think ultimately this story is about clawing your way back to life. Do you like your romance and history mixed up with action and danger? I honestly can't recommend this one enough.
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Published January 16, 2018 by Tor Teen