Blood and Sand took me by surprise. I figured I’d enjoy it a lot – being a recent fan of all these gladiator books – but what I didn’t expect was how much I enjoyed it.
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…
I was all ready to love Attia. And don’t get me wrong, I really like her, but Xanthus is who stole my heart. I felt like he was so much more complex than Attia (who reminded me a bit of Katniss). Attia is this intensely spirited heroine. She is ferocious, talented, and incredibly smart. At the same time, what unites Attia and Xanthus is revenge. I could definitely empathize with her quest – the Romans destroyed her entire homeland and killed her father, then enslaving her – but I was much more fascinated by Xanthus.
Xanthus was soft hearted and tender, but all sort of encased in muscle and defense mechanisms. In a world that wanted to make him into a monster, he is trying so desperately to remain human, to look himself in the eyes at night, even though he’s as enslaved as Attia. In many ways they are so opposite, bred for war and forced into war, but in many ways they are similar. They are pitted against this same struggle to be themselves in a society that erodes their identity, beginning with their names and brands.
I am even more excited for the sequel, because that ending just shocked me. If you are at all interested in the Roman Empire or even just gladiators, pick up Blood and Sand. You can find it on Goodreads.