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Blood and Sand

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Forged in battle, from the dust of the arena, a legend will rise...

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...

320 pages, Hardcover

First published January 16, 2018

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About the author

C.V. Wyk

3 books201 followers
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.

Find Wyk online at www.cvywyk.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 456 reviews
Profile Image for Warda.
1,152 reviews18.3k followers
April 25, 2019

*cue cliched drumroll*


Why is this not more hyped?! It needs to be on everyone's TBR pile!

Give me that damn sequel already!

Now, that I got my fangirling out of the way, let me actually try and review this.

Like I said, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this so much. It came as a complete surprise to me and when I read the synopsis, I wasn't sure whether it was going to be my kinda thing.

Well, it turned out to be exactly my kind of thing.

Brutal, bloody and incredibly atmospheric, I was immediately swept away by the world and the writing from page one.
It's a gender-bend story, following Attia (who's just badass in every sense of the word) or Spartacus in this case, when she's been made a slave. Our villain captures her and 'gifts' her to his champion. Rome's hero, the undefeated gladiator that is Xanthus. (He's swoon worthy!)

What the antagonist didn't know by putting them together is these two would form a bond under their own banner of slavery. And the story takes off from there.

This book was extremely action-packed, fast-paced and never was there a dull moment. The combat scenes were written so well to the point where I felt like I was a part of it. (Yes, I was fighting away in my head!). Plus I was always eager to get back to it when put down. We were introduced to the characters and world really nicely, the groundwork was laid and it was easy to get lost in the story.

It is a beautiful fantasy/historical fiction novel on ancient Roman, the tale of Spartacus, gladiators, but also discussing heavier themes such as slavery, injustice, colonisation and fighting for freedom.

And the way this ended, boy are we in for a gooood time with the sequel. 😍
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,771 followers
December 9, 2022

Blood and Sand took me completely by surprise.

I actually didn't even realize when I picked it up that it was a gender-flipped retelling of Spartacus. Bonus!

When Attia, a warrior princess who has lost all of her people to slaughter by the Romans, finds herself handed over as a gift to a champion gladiator, all she can think of is escape.

Escape and revenge.

Trained from the time she was young in hand-to-hand combat, Attia is a force to be reckoned with from the very first pages.

This girl is a badass and not afraid to show it. Navigating her captivity, Attia begins to feel out who she can trust and who she cannot.

Xanthus, the man to whom Attia is gifted, is a prized Gladiator. Known as the best of his kin, he ruthlessly slays down all who come before him.

Things are often not as they appear however and Xanthus may not be as ruthless as he would have you believe.

It turns out the rock of a man has a heart of gold and honestly, that's just how I like them.

Attia and Xanthus become attached to one another in a deep and meaningful way over an admittedly short amount of time.

Did I care? Not one bit.

If you loathe an insta-love trope, you may have some issue with this.

Honestly though, the way this is told, you may be too busy dodging the blood and guts to even care.

Ancient Rome was brutal, y'all, and I like that Wyk doesn't shy away from that.

Sure, this is a romance, but it is wrapped in a historical cloak that makes it so much more. I found the atmosphere of this vivid and visceral.

There were scenes set in Pompeii that made you feel like you were there. I mean, really the whole book made you feel that way, but I have always been intrigued by the volcano. Fascinating, right!?

Overall, I was really impressed with this. There is a bit of a cliffhanger ending that has left me chomping at the bit. When is the next book going to be released!?
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
September 19, 2019
how in the world has this book been overlooked for so long?! i am shocked that this hasnt received more attention because it has everything.

with unyielding action, enemies to lovers romance, historical influences, atmospheric writing, relevant themes, and compelling characters, this story is a whirlwind of adventure and human connection.

and how could i fail to mention that spartacus is a woman?! this a wonderfully reimagined telling of an ancient tale, with a heroine who is always unapologetic herself.

the only downside is that the sequel hasnt been given a release date. my patience is truly being tested.

4 stars
Profile Image for ✨ Helena ✨.
368 reviews975 followers
February 27, 2021
“If Attia got through the day without murdering someone, she would consider it a good day. Or she might just be sorely disappointed.”


I don’t even know where to begin with my love for this book. ALL THE STARS. I award this brilliant novel ALL THE STARS. Five is not nearly enough!!!

I love anything and everything about Ancient Rome, having even studied it myself at university. It’s such a fascinating part of history that it always draws me in whenever it’s featured in a book (for others, see: Sisters of Sword and Song, Dark Shores and The Valiant).

However, I’ll be the first one to admit that, unless if we’re discussing Spartan women, Ancient Rome was an extremely misogynistic society. So, I LOVE the twist here, where – in this book – the legendary warrior, Spartacus, is a WOMAN. I love me some fierce and fighty females!!!


I’d also like to mention that I completely didn’t mind some of the historical inaccuracies? And I’ll be the first to normally nit-pick at them, but Ancient Mediterranean History includes so much guesswork that WHO’S TO SAY that this didn’t actually happen??? For example, this book also included some events at Pompeii (FINALLY, I mean why don’t Ancient Roman books ever mention Pompeii?! Untapped potential, if you ask me!). So, if this book is meant to take place during 79 AD (aka the year of Mount Vesuvius’ eruption) and Spartacus lived from 111 BC to 71 BC … how do we know that someone LIKE him (or her, in this case) wasn’t actually there??? That’s the beauty of alternate history. WE DON’T.

“It's a dance, Attia. Not a fight.”
“We can fix that," Attia said earnestly.
“You're not being helpful at all.”


This book was SO EPIC. It was also a dual-POV, so let’s begin with the star of the show, the belle of the ball…Attia. Attia was a Thracian princess, daughter of a war-lord, and the last of her kind (or is she? hehehe). She’d been trained as a warrior since childhood, as her father’s only heir, and boy, could she kick ARSE. When the Romans came and conquered Thrace, they took her as a spoil of war and she definitely did not come quietly. She fought every step of the way, just cutting through men like they were bloody sheets of paper. We stan a queen.


But despite what a great fighter she was, she also had a loving heart. She was so protective and sweet to those she cared about, especially a six-year old Roman child, who she wanted to hate on principle, but just couldn’t bring herself to do so. More often than not, she put herself in harm’s way in order to care for this innocent, little girl. It was just so, so cute and ahhhh, I can’t. I cry. :(((

He flinched and pulled away. “Gods, you might just take my hands off after all. Aren't women supposed to be gentle?”
“Aren't men supposed to be fearless? Hold still.”


Attia also comes to care for Rome’s Gladiator champion, Xanthus (the other POV, btw). Initially, Attia was given to Xanthus as a gift for all of his wins in the arena, but Xanthus wanted none of that. He respected whatever she wanted and never pressured her into doing anything that she didn’t want to. She slept on the bed, while he slept on the floor. She served as nursemaid to a child, while he provided bloody entertainment in the arena. For the longest time, they operated as two ships passing in the night…until their bond evolved into something more. AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.

“I’ll come back for you,” he said.
“I’ll wait.”


I think that the best part about the two of them is that, at the end of the day, they were, more or less, equals. They were both slaves, stolen from their homeland, Attia from Thrace and Xanthus (his true name being Gareth) from Britannia, and forced into bondage, living each day with only the desire for freedom and vengeance for those that they had lost. Xanthus was so loyal and sweet, as was Attia, and they were phenomenal fighters, making them a perfectly balanced pair. Neither were superior to the other in any regard. They were just SO CUTE together. <333


I also adored the little found family that seemed to form: Attia, Sabina, and Lucretia, Xanthus, the Gladiators, and the Maedi, and even the little children, Rory and Balius. AHH. MY BABIES. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. WHY, WHY, WHY IS IT OVER? IT CAN’T BE OVER!


This book was amazing and I loved every moment of it! My not wanting to put it down – even for a second – led me to completing it in one sitting. Now, I’m regretting that decision though, because there’s no more left for me to read or look forward to. Le sigh.

I’m so sad that Tor Teen cancelled the sequel, when this is arguably one of the best books that they’ve published in recent years. I’m sad we’ll never get to see the slave revolt that Spartacus – aka Attia – is destined to lead. It would’ve been brilliant to see, depicted by this author. Regardless, I HIGHLY recommend this book and hope that you’ll join me in suffering, while we wait for the sequel that seems unlikely to be coming anytime soon. :P

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
February 4, 2018
4.5 stars. There is a specific reason why this book isn't getting 5 stars from me. 💔😭 I LOVED the story. It was fantastic and I adored the two protagonists.


Now I'm sad.

I'VE CHANGED MY RATING TO 5 STARS DON'T HATE MEEEEEE. After sleeping on it, I feel like that part of the ending isn't going to stick. Aaaaaand there is a sequel so that's a good sign. I'm just hoping and crossing my fingers!!!!

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
Book One of an untitled series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):


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 I Liked:

Oh my oh my oh my. Blood and Sand, what a debut. I have been eagerly awaiting this book for months, likely close to a year, and I was almost too excited to actually read it when I got a review copy. In the last few weeks, I've been in a terrible reading slump, the worst I've experienced in years. But I think Blood and Sand yanked down and pulled me out of the slump. It is easily a favorite of 2018 already, and I will definitely be rereading it in the future.

This is the fictional story of the rise of Spartacus. Traditionally, Spartacus is known to be a Thracian male warrior, but in this story, Spartacus begins with Attia, the Thracian princess and last of her people. She has been captured and sold to a rich Roman named Timeus, who has gifted her to his Champion of Rome, as a sign of favor. The Champion of Rome, Xanthas, is not what Attia expects; he isn't cruel or forceful, and he's a great deal younger despite his ten years as Champion. Attia should be fighting for every opportunity to escape, to run, to exact her revenge on the man that destroyed her people. But she finds that she cannot leave the Champion, who she finds out is just as much a slave as she is. This is the story of two warriors, brought together under bloody circumstances, but united under the same drive for vengeance.

One thing that was a delightful surprise was the fact that this book is told in dual narrative! There are two third-person POVs - Attia's, and Xanthas's. I adore dual POV and especially when the two characters are each other's love interests. This story is not Attia's; it's not Xanthas's. It's Attia's and Xanthas's.

The story starts with Attia being dragged in chains and sold to the highest bidder. From the start, I liked Attia. She is cold and hardened, undefeated even in chains and branded like livestock. She is a Maedi princess and warrior, and she lets her birthright and training stiffen her spine. She never breaks, she never gives up, and she never loses herself. I love how strong she is, even when she isn't in battle. (Which, let's be real, is like 5% of the book. She isn't fighting much in this one, which was fine by me, given how the story is set up.) And in battle, she is fierce and formidable. I really admire Attia, for her strength and willpower, her determination and her persistence.

Xanthas, I liked just as much or even more. He is the Champion of Rome and has been for years. He has been a gladiator ever since he was a young boy, a slave under the rich man Timeus. He is unbeatable in any arena, against any opponent, or any number of opponents. But he hates how he must kill and how many he must kill. He carries the guilt and pain of every kill, which the author makes very clear, based on his words and actions after a match. He's young, likely around 19 or 20 years old, but he is old beyond his years. He is a good man with a kind heart, despite his warrior status. Not once is he cruel to Attia, or any person (even those he is set against to kill). I really respected and adored Xanthas. Did I mention that he's all sorts of swoony? I mean. Muscles, tall, scruffy facial hair, skills with swords and other weapons, sweet and silent and broody, considerate and thoughtful... he's my type of guy.

Yes, there is romance, and it's so sweet. Attia is given to Xanthas as his prize, so she's supposed to be his concubine or something of that nature. But he never makes her do anything and for that, she begins to trust and like him. They commiserate (they're both slaves who lost their people to Rome), and they're both warriors. The romance is slow-burn and so sweet, and I loved seeing it unfold. I didn't mind how quickly "love" was thrown around because I could see the passage of time even if it wasn't shown directly on the page. There were so many little tender moments (like forehead kisses!) and other more intense swoony moments, and honestly my heart was so invested and so here for it.

The romance is really subtle and barely there, so don't think that the story is entirely about the romance. Xanthas, being the Champion of Rome, is constantly in action, and there is a match coming that he can't wait for. He has been waiting his entire gladiator life for it, and he won't let anything get in his way. Attia is healing from terrible wounds she received in the beginning of the book, but that doesn't mean that she is sitting back, waiting for things to happen. No, she is constantly looking for information on the man that slaughtered her people. And looking for ways to get her revenge.

There are a lot of different parts of the story that change the landscape of the plot, but I won't talk about any of that because that would get into spoiler territory. I will say that the author does such an excellent job with the world-building and history. This is supposed to be loosely based on the story of Spartacus, and of course there are definitely some large inaccuracies present, but I really felt the history of the setting and the characters and the story in general, when reading the book. Based on what I know about ancient Rome, Pompeii, etc., of course.

I wanted to mention some of the secondary characters! I loved the other five gladiators who train with Xanthas. They are his blood-brothers and fellow warriors-in-arms, and they are hilarious. The six of them are a quite a bunch! I love their antics. I also love how, towards the end, the other five develop a sort of kinship with Attia. There was one scene when they were all standing behind her and I swear my face turned into the heart-eyes emoji.

For the record, there is nooooooo love triangle in this book. Or anything non-Xanthas/Attia. Just thought I'd mention that. The other five gladiators - and any other males - are not interested in Attia.

The ending of this book is bananas! On so many different levels! It picks up really quickly and all of a sudden there is an explosion of chaos. I can't even begin to tell you how frantic my brain was working to keep up with everything, because so many bombshells were being dropped. One event in particular is literally the only reason why this book isn't getting five stars from me at this time. Until I know more, that event is sinking this book's rating from me. BUT the ending is wide-open for book two (yes, there is a book two!), which is good! I'm very excited to see where Attia's story goes next, because Spartacus has only just been introduced into the story.

What I Did Not Like:

Okay that ONE event is the reason why I waffled with my rating. You'll see what I mean. You all know how I feel about these things. I'm hoping it won't stick, and I have a good feeling that it won't. Cross your fingers!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book, regardless of if you're a historical fiction fan or not. This book is intense, action-packed, riveting, romantic, and jaw-dropping, in the end. I will say that there is some abuse and suicidal thoughts though not involving Attia or Xanthas (but a secondary character). So be aware of that. But this book is such a powerful one, with a feminist story that isn't loud and obnoxious and over-the-top.


4.5 stars. I've decided to round up to 5 stars! Despite the really painful part of the ending, I loved this book so much and I have a good feeling about the next book. I am so so so excited about Fire and Ash and need that book in my hands now! Or yesterday! This debut is stunning and powerful, and I need more.
Profile Image for Sophie "Beware Of The Reader".
1,289 reviews339 followers
March 17, 2018
5 wild stars

For the wandering and the wild, the new heroes gazing fearlessly into the dark.

For the young ones rising.

For two days I was nose stuck in a book.
I simply did not want to blog or follow my social feed or...shoking for a blogger I know!

I just had to follow Attia and Xanthus journey. Was this book the best written book in history? No. It is undoubtedly well wrtitten but more important: it was calling to my heart.

I used to read many historical fictions as a teen from prehistory to ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome, ....

Blood and Sand reminded me how much I enjoyed these readings.

For two days I followed a strong and badass heroine.

Attia is a Thrace princess, heir of king Sparro who's been killed by Crassus. She is now readied to be sold as a slave and this opening scene will give us an epic fight. Attia runs and fights like a demon. An ancient Kill Bill jumping on rooftops, jumping wall to wall to the top, incapacitating soldiers bare handed...you got it:it was riveting!

Then suddenly, she realized there was nothing left to run to.

No family, no friends.

Every single person she had ever known were dead.
"I am nothing. Attia is nothing. Not a name or a sound. There is no me. There is only a ghost of Thrace."

She surrenders ...

When she arrives to Timeus house it's to be a gift to Rome's champion, gladiator Xhantus.
Xanthus has been undefeated for long years now. If he is a well honed killing machine he hates taking lives.
Xanthus is tired. So tired of being a slave and taking lives...
"But Xanthus stayed on his knees afterward. His eyes focused on the blood drenching his hands and arms and chest. His shoulders bowed beneath an oppressive weight. His ears drowned in the deluge of the crowd's cheers.

No one heard when he finally turned his face upward and whispered a prayer into the swirling dust.

"Please," he said. "Please forgive me."

Attia and Xanthus will bond in their slavery. Helping and caring for each other.

The book is about survival, keeping your identity and your pride even as a slave. It's about revenge. It's about love and affection the only things worth surviving for.

The author took liberties with history here but it did not bother me. What I was looking for was the Roman's way of life rather than completely accurate facts and dates.

Attia is a formidable heroine and Xanthus is a colossal hero you can't but love.
It ends dramatically but it's only the first book in the series. More is yet to come and I don't know what surprise the author has in store for us.


If you like historical young adult stories built around strong heroes and sustained by a simple yet holes free plot this is your next read.


Thank you Raven for your high praise of the book you made me read it!

Have you read it? Do you love historical books?
Thanks for reading!
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,028 reviews2,605 followers
January 16, 2018
2 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/01/16/...

Well, that was, unfortunately, not as good as it could have been. Though, if you’re simply hankering for a standard Young Adult novel with a flavor of Ancient Rome, I’m sure this book will serve its purpose. I just wish it hadn’t been so…hokey.

What do I mean by that? You could feel the intrusive force of the author’s hand, nudging her characters through to the desired storyline every step of the way. None of it felt organic, from the events that transpired to the relationships between the characters. It sucked all the joy and charm out of what could have been an excellent novel.

The author begins with a note informing readers that many of the people and events that take place in the story are based on the historical record…except when it suits her needs. Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of historical fiction and I know how it works; I don’t mind the occasional tweak here or there for the sake of making your story work better or more interesting. However, blatant manipulation of dates, say, for the express purpose of ending your novel on an “eruptive” note makes things seem far too contrived, if you know what I mean. This and other developments were “twists” I saw coming a mile away. Like I said, nothing unfolded organically; everything felt scripted.

Speaking of which, this segues perfectly into how I felt about the characters. The stars of Blood and Sand are Attia, a 17-year-old Thracian princess, and Xanthus, a Briton slave boy who grew to become the mightiest gladiator in Rome. Despite being a girl, Attia was chosen and trained by her father, the Maedi chieftain, to be his heir following the death of his wife and son. If the Romans had known, they would have killed her on the spot when they invaded her land and slaughtered her people, but they were expecting the Maedi heir to be a boy, which led to Attia to be captured and enslaved. In Rome, she was bought by Timeus, the dominus of a gladiatorial school, who wished to gift a beautiful Thracian girl to his best gladiator, Xanthus. Expecting the Champion of Rome to be a cruel violent brute, Attia prepares to fight tooth and nail to escape, only to find that Xanthus is nothing more than a misunderstood and tortured soul, soft-spoken, thoughtful, and gentle as a lamb (sigh…because of course he is). All her reservations about him disappear miraculously overnight. The two of them spend literally one night talking, and suddenly they are madly in love.

There was nothing to convince me these two had formed any kind of complex or emotional connection beyond sharing a few details in a very strained, orchestrated conversation about their past. Nothing to convince me that Attia would throw away her all-consuming desire for freedom and revenge for the sake of a stranger she’s only known for a short time. This has become a common refrain from me regarding the state of Young Adult romances as of late, but there was simply no spark of chemistry.

For a novel being pitched as a story about a “female Spartacus”, I was also profoundly disappointed by the lack of action we saw from Attia. We mostly got to see her kick ass in just one pivotal scene in the middle of the book, following a sequence of events that felt awkward and scripted in the manner they came about. Characters appeared to go out of their way to maneuver themselves into that very situation, even if their reasoning made little sense. Most of the supporting cast are also lightly sketched and felt like props for the author to use as she saw fit—namely, to make Attia and Xanthus look good. Xanthus’s gladiator brothers are hardly around except when they’re needed to talk up Attia’s beauty or battle prowess, and characters like Lucrezia and Rory felt written in for the sole purpose of being Attia’s charity cases.

Finally, this did not feel like a complete book. Early in the story, Xanthus is given the news that he will have an opportunity to face his sworn enemy in the ring, an event that never materialized, so presumably there will be at least one sequel where this will be covered. The novel instead ends with no resolution to any conflict, though to the author’s credit, she did seek to close things out with a spectacular bang—an effort in which she was successful, even if the ending left me with no sense of closure or satisfaction. There are loose ends aplenty, but somehow, I have a feeling I already know how a lot of them will resolve, given how predictable I found this novel.

Blood and Sand was a book I had high hopes for, and in truth, the first few chapters did make me think that perhaps I held a winner in my hands. With that said, perhaps the source of my frustration lies in the genuine potential for greatness that I glimpsed in this debut, if only it hadn’t been constrained by so many common first-timer mistakes as time wore on. My tepid response notwithstanding, I don’t think this was a bad book, just that it was too contrived for my liking, which killed a lot of my enthusiasm for the story and characters. Still, there’s room to grow with this series, so I’m not writing it off yet, but I’ll probably adopt a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the sequel.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,243 followers
February 26, 2018
She could see the anger etched into his soul as permanently as the scars on his skin. She didn’t fault him for it. She had been raised by violent, ruthless men. She had been trained to be one of them, to lead them. If anything, she was more like the gladiators than the rest of the slaves.

This was exactly what I needed after the sequel to The Valiant left me so disappointed. This is what I wanted. Brutal, bloody and action-packed! I found myself thrilled throughout the fight scenes. I genuinely enjoyed Attia and Xanthus. And when their relationship ventures into romance territory, I am here for it. Even though it switches quickly, almost insta-love except not. It could've used a bit more development is my main gripe. Other than that, it doesn't even matter because it's not a plot-focus.

Seventeen year old Attia is taken from Thrace and sold as a slave. She is given to the Champion of Rome, Xanthus, by his master. Xanthus is a slave himself. This is just the beginning. Two slaves with no bigger desire than to get the revenge they've been waiting for. Attia wants the head of the man who killed her father, while Xanthus wants to battle the man who brought Roman troops to his home. The two will form a bond that will change everything.
The future was dead. But below the scars and wounds that would never heal, there was still the spirit of a swordlord’s heir.

The historical accuracy is one of my favorite things. Of course the author had to change some things and the most obvious here being Spartacus as a female, but the things I already knew were accurate were wonderful. I always appreciate the inclusion of actual historical accuracy.

I did expect Attia to be involved in more action and fight scenes, but for sake of developing the story I'll withhold judgement. I'd expect to see more from her in the sequel. It's odd going into this after The Valiant because they both feature a girl taken and auctioned off as a slave only to be purchased by a ludus master and expected to adjust to life at the ludus. The main differences being that The Valiant goes full female-gladiatrice ludus, while Blood and Sand is a male-ludus where Attia is slave to one of the gladiators. Xanthus and Attia bond over their shared experiences and fates. This is a Spartacus retelling, so you can guess where it's going to go at a certain point..

The ending is fantastic. I appreciated the change of location and what that brought with it to the plot. I can't exactly say more or spoilers. There's a nice twist at a certain point. The entire novel is fast-paced. I am really looking forward to seeing where the sequel goes next..
Profile Image for Chelsea.
316 reviews2,769 followers
July 16, 2018
This is possibly one of the most underhyped books of the year. It deserves so much more attention. As a female reimagining of Spartacus, Attis is ruthless and savage. This book does a fantastic job of not sugar-coating how brutal this time period was. I wish there was a little more character development for some of the side characters just to help me keep them straight. And a map! I would have loved a map! But in general I highly recommend this, one fiercest female protagonists I’ve read in a long time.
Profile Image for Nadhira Satria.
432 reviews729 followers
April 18, 2018

It was good. but not that good. but still good. but ok I guess.
But because I haven't read a good historical fiction these days, I'll just round it up to 4 stars

What I liked

1.Historical Accuracy
It's honestly so rare to find a YA historical fiction that is actually HISTORICAL. I mean this book is so historically accurate and just... wow.

just bravo. yas. you go girl

3.Xanthus, Albinus, Iduma, Lebuin, and Castor
The banter of these cute little gladiator puppies and the friendship they have is just brb i'm tearing up
(Iduma is my fav btw he's such a little baby)

What I didn't like

1.The Romance
I never understood romance where both partners are broken (Feyre and Rhys) (Aelin and Rowan) (Juliette and Warner) (some contemporary book couple because I don't read them lmao)
Honestly it's so fucking unhealthy??? It's just unbelievably unhealthy both emotionally and mentally to the point where I have to scream whenever this type of shit happens.
This shit happens all the motherfucking time because apparently some readers think that the idea of two broken people healing each other are cute and romantic and omg *snorts* oh honey, that shit only happens in fiction.
IM SO FUCKING SICK OF THESE TYPE OF ROMANCE?? ITS UNHEALTHY SO STOP IT. (I wish i can send a fucking power point slide to Sarah J Maas telling her to stop writing these kinds of romance just because it's angsty or whatever. IT'S FUCKING UNHEALTHY, SARAH! STOP)
Shit happened too quickly too

bitch ass got a personality of a teaspoon.

I really liked it (despite the romance issue) ANDDDD I'll be reading the next one when it comes out!
Profile Image for Beth.
700 reviews572 followers
April 2, 2018
All of the stars!

”Then keep your eyes on me, champion. And we’ll face the shadows together”

I’m just going to say there’s a lot of Trigger Warning: Violence, Abuse, Suicidal Thoughts, Rape

This was such an unexpected book, I got this in my illumicrate box, and read the premise of the book just drew me in. It was whispering to me, Beth Beth… you loved An Ember in the Ashes, and you also liked Rebel of the Sands you’ll like me as well! You know what? The whispers were true! I loved this sooooooo much!

The basis of the story starts off with a young warrior Princess named Attia being sold as a slave to the highest bidder. (They don’t know she’s a princess so shhhh). She has given as a “gift” to Xanthus who is the best Gladiator in Rome, who is also a slave and the story continues from there. We see the two come together and fight against the odds to what they both want and need.

It needs to be said… the start of this book was so gripping! We see Attia in full action, and when you think of “strong female character” Attia is that character. She’s not just told to be strong, we see this, and gurrrrrrrrrl she knows what she’s doing!


They lived amidst ugliness, but between them there was light.

I 100000000% am here for Attia as previously mentioned she is a strong character, she knows how to handle herself and she does things and you’re like GET IT GIRL, GET IT! We see her strong side, but e also see her vulnerable. When she opens up about her past and how she is with Rory and Lucretia it just melts your heart. My heart breaks for her on so many occasions, the branding really hit a nerve with me, but still she remained strong. She never gives up and she knows how hard it is as a woman, but still she refuses to stop for what she believes in.

Then we also have Xanthus, he is too precious for the life he leads. I am legit in love with him, and he is now a new book love. There I said it. NO REGRETS! His back story destroyed me, I was screaming for revenge as soon as I found it out. His loyalty to his brothers, my god I could weep. Not only that but he’s legit a gentleman, HE ASKS PERMISSION. I was like low key about to cry, because he’s just too much, and I need him irl.

What I liked?
- The gore, and the fight scenes, if you’re not into that I wouldn’t recumbent this, it’s full of fights and death. It’s so detailed and you can really place yourself in the scene.
- The backstory’s of both the characters, you can see where the characters motives come from and get a good understanding of why they do the things they do.
- Not only do we have gladiators but we have protective gladiators who treat each other as brothers and the loyalty between them all is just TOO MUCH! (In a good way)
- The unravelling of real names, y u break my little heart so much
- All of the extra characters! There’s so many, but mainly The Gladiators, Lucius, Sabina, Rory.
- The wild goose chase of protection, when you know…you know

What I didn’t like?
These are two teeny tiny things just to put it out there…
- The romance was very quick under the circumstances, don’t get me wrong, I was here for it and I loved it… but it just happened a bit fast.
- It took me a little while to get used to some of the characters (I got there in the end!)

Overall, I LOVED this so much more than what I thought, I’m hyped for the second book, I went onto Amazon to see if I could pre-order it (no luck there) but I will patiently wait, because that ending! I need to know things and if I’m still heartbroken by the end of the second book I’ll be flipping tables! I need more people to read this (and hopefully enjoy it) so I can talk and try figure out what’s going to happen! So if you read this and enjoy it, please please please talk to me!
Profile Image for lucie.
491 reviews622 followers
May 9, 2018
“I’ll come back for you,” he said.
“I’ll wait.”

This book doesn't get enough attention! It's action packed, brutal, bloody and there are gladiators! Who doesn't like gladiators?
Attia is kick-ass princess who is taken from Thrace and sold as a slave, given as a trophy to Xanthus. Xanthus is the best gladiator of Rome driven by his revenge.


My thoughts:
- The writing was really good and the story was easy to follow. I could see the scenes quite vivid in my head and this is always a good sign.
- I absolutely adored Xanthus! He has his heart on the right place, he doesn't enjoy fighting or killing. His story as a young boy made me want to hug him.
- There's romance between Xanthus and Attia, of course. It wasn't exactly insta-love but they fall in love too quickly for my personal taste. I'd prefer slower relationship building BUT it didn't stop me from shipping them. Around middle of the book I cared more about them together than the main story, haha.
- I cannot forget to mention that in this book Spartacus is a girl!
- I loved the friendship between Xanthus and his gladiator brothers. They were funny and I enjoyed their scenes a lot.
- The final scene was intense and asdfhadsf!!! WHAT WAS THE ENDING??

Now excuse me because I am going to binge-watch Spartacus: Blood and Sand while waiting ONE YEAR for the sequel.
pre-read: Gladiators and strong female protagonist in one book - I feel strong Godsgrave vibes so of course I want to read it!

Buddy-read with Warda who reminded me that this book exists!
Profile Image for Chelsies Reading Escape.
631 reviews362 followers
February 26, 2018
This female reimagining of Spartacus was simply fantastic. I dont think Ive ever read a historical romance, but what an incredible book to start with and a debut at that. Her people massacred and taken from her home Attia is purchased by a Roman as a gift for his gladiator, the Champion of Rome, but more than likely he is using her as a means of controlling him. While keeping her identity as the warrior princess of Thrace a secret, Attia plots her revenge on the people who have taken everything from her. Im not usually a big fan of character driven stories, but I loved this one. Definitely the best captive story Ive read and Im really picky when it comes to those types of stories.

Attia was such badass female character. Breaking bones and not taking crap from anyone right from the beginning. I feel like the romance happened a little fast, but it still made it onto one of my favorite romances of all time. I love romantic interests who are strong, but gentle. Xanthus understands the importance of freedom and doesnt try to keep Attia from making her own decisions. The switch between the two main characters perspectives was a little abrupt at times, but their voices were different enough that I was able to differentiate them easily.

The side characters were remarkable and distinct from one another. Rory is just adorable and I loved how much Attia cared about her. Attia develops this amazing friendship with Lucretia. Xanthus brother gladiators made me laugh so much when they were fighting at their camp. Their camaderie and love for each other was heartwarming. The compelling writing helped me immerse myself in the story and really get to know these characters. I had my doubts about the mecenaries, but I still really enjoyed that reveal. Some things did feel convenient, but I was enjoying myself so much I didnt really care.

I loved how the author incorporated Pompeii in her story. I dont read much historical fiction, but I feel like this could have use a tiny bit more Roman elements to make me feel like I was really in that time period. Towards the half way point the pace slowed down a little bit, but the ending crushed me and Im still in denial about it. Im hoping we'll see more of the world and the revenge plot in the sequel. While in the thick of it I thought this would be a 5 star read, but after writing this review I realize that there was just a couple things missing. Id definitely recommend this if you want an amazing gladiator inspired romance.

*received for review consideration*
Profile Image for Melissasfandomworld.
579 reviews115 followers
April 7, 2018
so... this book just completely GUTTED me and I'M SO NOT OKAY.. *keeps her ugly cry going*
That said:
This is one of the best reads of 2018 to me so far.
What an amazing adventure. What a thrilling reading experience.
Once started, I just couldn't stop reading - like I even wanted to *snort*. I loved the Spartacus elements, the Pompei elements - I've been intrigued with Pompei and it's terrible history ever since I was a young girl so coming across Pompei stuff; that alone is worth the 5 stars, the way everything is written down. Just phenomenal

The romance was really well developed and was in perfect balance with the rest of the story.
Both main characters are amaaaaazing and there are a lot of minor characters present I fell in love with as well. There's a bit of humor and lightness woven into the dark and brutal elements of the story. The writing was truly phenomenal - I was addicted right from the start.

After just finishing it, my heart's still wildly beating in my chest and I'm fiercely in denial of some things that happened just now... I've just been gutted by all the plot twists towards the end and it's killing me, knowing the next book is so far away..

If you like Roman elements, fierce gladiators, action scenes, beautiful romance, 'can't turn the page fast enough'- plot twists and amazing writing, this is THE book you were looking for. It reminded me a lot of the Gladiator movie(with Russell Crowe), the movie Pompei(with Kit Harrington) and TROY(with Brad Pitt).. All of it is wrapped up in a nice Young adult bookish package (even though the characters felt more mature to me than YA) that had me on the edge of my seat right from the start and I can't recommend this book enough!!!! It's a super fast-paced book, an emotional rollercoaster and I'm just so completely in love with it that I could continue my fangirl rant for hours on end, lol. This is one of those books, I'd recommend to anyone, no matter if you prefer YA or adult fantasy, and especially if you're into re-tellings! What a thrilling, heartbreaking and adventurous ride it was. It definitely WOWed me.

Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
470 reviews389 followers
December 27, 2021
I have never been so stupid in my life.

Why did I do this-
I KNEW the consequences of this-

Excuse me as I go kindly threaten the author for the sequel.

Review to come
Profile Image for Justine.
1,132 reviews309 followers
January 18, 2018
This was a compelling read, with fantastic characters and a terrific slow-burn romance. Attia is written unapologetically strong, both physically and emotionally. Xanthus is gentle and kind, despite the continued horror he experiences with his own role as Champion of Rome.

The secondary characters, such as Sabina, Lucretia, Rory, and the other gladiators were all equally interesting and added so much to my enjoyment of the story. And really, as far as I'm concerned, great characters and the ancient Roman setting were pretty much all I needed in order to love this.

This book didn't actually get to the slave uprising part of the Sparticus story, so I can't wait for the sequel to see how Attia sets fire to the Roman Empire!
Profile Image for Allison.
489 reviews186 followers
June 13, 2017

sdjks;dasdnjaksd was waiting on this one for ages and was planning on doing a live-tweet of it but read it in one sitting instead. Oh well.

After The Valiant let me down, I was looking forward to another lady gladiator novel and oh boy yes just as tragic as you can imagine.
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
October 20, 2017
This was a gem of a novel! I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a female Spartacus. Attia was a complete badass while not falling into the "I am too injured and hard to love anyone and anything" trope I so disdain. A badass girl! With feelings! Huzzah!

Not only that, but Xanthus, the gladiator who so easily could have been written as domineering and awful, is kind, gentle, and doesn't try to make Attia anything she isn't. Again, huzzah!

This book hasn't received a lot of buzz, but I definitely recommend keeping it on your radar!
Profile Image for Lisa.
707 reviews12 followers
February 24, 2018
I love books written in the times of the Roman Empires, however, as I was telling a couple friends the other day, it would have been a pretty terrifying time to live in. This was a good story, and I understand the fact that since it's YA, it has to be toned down because let's face it, if you were not Roman, life was violent and brutal, for both men and women. I really enjoyed this and I'm definitely going to be reading the next. Author did such a good job with the people in the story, they were likeable and you could feel their emotions. Attia was a great main character.
Profile Image for Lainey.
261 reviews1,571 followers
June 11, 2018
Eh, I'm sad because this is so up my alley--female spartacus! ancient rome! gladiators!--but everything just fell flat. It never really took off, I was never hooked, and while the set-up to what would be the romance was handled really well (given the main boy mc was given the main girl character as a gift) the romance went from zero to sixty rather quickly. I don't know. I'm sad and I hate that I'm rating it a two.
Profile Image for Sophie.
1,154 reviews437 followers
August 1, 2019
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher. This in no way impacted on my view.

Any and all books about Ancient Rome will automatically be on my radar, and this was no different. In a genderbent retelling of Spartacus, we follow Attia, once princess of Thrace, after she, and her people, have been enslaved by Rome. She is given to Xanthus, the champion of Rome, and once of the greatest gladiators the empire has ever seen. Attia has her own training, and will not just submit to the might of Rome, or to Xanthus. Her main aim = to escape, rise up, and reclaim her lost kingdom. As both she and Xanthus understand what it is to be enslaved, they form an agreement, and soon grow closer. However, their agreement will lead to one of the greatest uprisings Rome ever saw, and Attia will do just about anything to get what she wants.

I loved this book so much! Attia and Xanthus were both expertly written and researched. Thrace was one of the greatest kingdoms in the Ancient World, famed for its strength and warriors - both male and female. Attia perfectly embodied a princess and warriormaiden from this kingdom, and I loved reading her thoughts and processes throughout the book. When she decides to masquerade as one of the gladiators, known as Spartacus, she isn't faking her skill or resilience - it's all inherent in her from the get go. Xanthus, too, doesn't hide what he's been trained for, and all of the fight scenes, etc., are so details, but not overly graphic is if to provide a 'shock factor'. Attia and Xanthus together, I didn't think would work, because of the whole 'being gifted to him' arc. However, Xanthus never forces Attia into anything, and finds the notion of being gifted a girl abhorrent. The chemistry was undeniable, though, and I loved them together!

All in all, this was a fantastic debut, and I can't wait for book 2 to be published!
Profile Image for ash |.
555 reviews95 followers
January 28, 2021
2021: Hey Bookstagrammers!! Helena and I are running a "Blood and Sand" inspired photo challenge and readalong for February 2021. Check out my bookstagram, @novellyrooted if you're interested in participating in either!! I have the photo challenge and readalong dates posted on my feed. We are running a group chat on bookstagram for the readalong.


This was soooo goood!
Profile Image for Just Josie.
1,003 reviews157 followers
August 20, 2020
4.5 stars


Why is this book not more hyped?

It has GLADIATORS! And a warrior PRINCESS!
It’s just the coolest combination! #canwegetbook2please

Gladiators, slaves, Ancient Rome, compelling and strong characters and the most fascinating plot!

I absolute loved this beautiful story. I have always been quite fascinated with Rome and it’s history, and even though the author took some liberties in regards to the story, I found it so enchanting.

Attia, warrior princess of Thrace loses her family and her people in a brutal war, and becomes a slave for a wealthy Dominus. She becomes a “gift” to no other than the “Champion of Rome”, Xanthus.
He is undefeated and strong. Kind and righteous. And he is set on revenge on the man who took him from his home.

This story was interesting, unique and I loved the historical aspect. It was hands down an awesome book, and you really should read it!

Read: 28/01/2020
1st rating: 4.5 stars
Genre/tropes: Romance/history/YA
Cover: 4 stars
POV’s: Dual - 3rd person (Attia & Xanthus)
Will I recommend: Did I say it has gladiators? Always a yes when it’s about gladiators😂
January 7, 2018
Trigger warnings for physical abuse, sexual abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

I seem to be having a particularly good reading streak. I can't remember the last time I read this many 4-5 star books in a row. And Blood and Sand is right up there with them, a damn near perfect book in my eyes.

I have not watched the TV show Spartacus, nor did I know much about the historical figure, before I started reading this. I was simply entranced by "warrior princess," "gladiator," and "rebellion" in the blurb. Little did I know that this book would completely take over my existence during my waking hours until I was finished with it. (I would have read it in one sitting, but I made the mistake of starting it in the evening and needed sleep to make it through the second half. What can I say, I'm getting old.) What's more, I'm now left with a strong need to read up on the history of Spartacus and binge-watch the TV series.

You know what I think I loved most about this? Attia. She was a complete and utter BAMF. Raised to inherit her father's leadership, she was trained as a warrior, and she was one. From the very start, she was defiant and stubborn and ruthless, breaking bones like it was nothing. Sure, she ended up with a gladiator by her side, but she did not need him to protect her. Instead, they fought side by side. But she learned in this book that there is more than just the warrior side of her; she learned she could love as well.

I also adored Xanthus. I loved how strong he was, but also how much he cared – about the deaths he caused, about his "brothers", about Attia. He never took advantage of what little power he had. If anything, he resented it. The way his and Attia's relationship developed was a glorious slow burn that made my heart sing. (Oh wow, cheese much, Dani?) And then their love killed me.
"No, Attia. I could never let anyone take you, but if you don't want me, you only have to say so."

And this one...
"I'll come back for you," he said.

"I'll wait."

But it was not just these characters that Wyk breathed life into. Almost every single named character was given depth and facets. She could have easily painted the "masters" as cruel and heartless, and sure, some were, but there was variety amongst them. While some believed in the ownership of slaves, others felt uneasy over it. There was one particular conversation between Attia and Lucius, the nephew of Attia's 'dominus', that stood out to me because it applies to privilege and the ripples of colonisation today. But my favourite side characters were the other gladiators, Xanthus' brothers. Their personalities jumped out, and their dynamic was so much fun at times that I couldn't help but giggle out loud. I didn't expect to laugh in a book about slave rebellion.

The story itself built up gradually. While there was a deadline of sorts, and certain big events that would come eventually, the plot mostly focused on the development and unveiling of characters. It was done masterfully, though, and I never, ever felt bored. If anything, I wanted to dive into the story and witness more of the interactions between characters, the building of relationships, and not just Attia and Xanthus'. But there was definitely action thrown in, and it was thrilling. The final chapters were a heartbreaking surprise, and I am still in shock. I can't believe what happened actually happened...

I know we're only a week into 2018, but I do believe that Blood and Sand has a very good shot at making it into my favourite books of the year.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

See this review in its natural environment, Dani Reviews Things.
You can find me on Twitter and Instagram.
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,422 reviews1,326 followers
December 28, 2017
I loved this book- I devoured the show Spartacus so when I read this summary that said 'what if Spartacus was a girl...' I knew I was going to need to read it immediately even though it's not out until 2018.


The characters, the story, the writing... all perfection!

Full review to come!

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 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.
Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews716 followers
January 24, 2018
Actual rating is 4.5 stars.

This was GLORIOUS! It exceeded my expectations. The last gladiator book I read was The Valiant and I was massively disappointed by it. But Blood and Sand is everything I hoped The Valiant would be! In short: if you like the TV show Spartacus I have no doubt you'll love this book. There's violence, politics, revenge, sexual abuse, and romance.

Attia was a total badass too. I loved how she could really fight, and she proved it (she wasn't all talk!). I loved her "I give zero fucks" attitude. She never accepted being a slave.

My one gripe (and the reason I'm giving it 4.5 stars instead of 5) is the romance. I liked it, but it developed very quickly. It wasn't quite insta-love, but it was close. I would have loved a more slow-burning, epic romance. Instead we got kind of a shallow one.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews906 followers
April 24, 2022
Lovey world building and characters who I have known from the TV show SPARTACUS. Though it wasn’t exactly following that story-line, it did move in a fast pace which I liked enough because I finished the book quite quickly. I kind of wanted her to be the same rebel that stood against the Roman Empire like in other stories because I felt she was gearing up for it but never got to it.

So sad ad angry that the sequel wasn’t picked up. How are we going to find out what happened? *sighs*
Profile Image for Atlas.
687 reviews27 followers
April 29, 2018
She wanted to run and run until her breath was spent, until the ashes of her bones mingled with those of her people

* *
2 / 5

In answer to the age-old gladiatorial question: "are you not entertained?", the answer is "only a little bit". I have a fondness for books set in Ancient Rome - The Eagle of the Ninth, for example, or virtually anything by Simon Scarrow - and Blood and Sand promised not only the tale of a gladiator who strives for freedom, Xanthus, but also that of a warrior princess of Thrace, Attia! It sounded awesome and I eagerly began reading this book, only to discover that it is dominated by a poorly plotted romance and a lack of exciting action.

Blood and Sand has received some rave reviews, so certainly many people have enjoyed this book, and it did have it's strong points - the opening of the book was fantastic. We have Attia, recently enslaved and mourning the death of her people and her father, who takes her chance to run, fleeing over the rooftops with guards in pursuit. Then there's Xanthus, a prize gladiator slave from Britannia who hates killing but is exceedingly good at it. The book definitely has a strong hook and initially I liked the two main characters.

Xanthus pitied the man. It didn't matter what god he worshiped. All of them were already in hell.

But then: the romance. Attia is given to Xanthus by their dominus as reward, presumably to be a bed slave. Xanthus allows her to sleep in his bed whilst he sleeps on the floor. They have approximately three conversations before Attia proclaims that Xanthus is setting her heart (and other parts) on fire, and that she won't take her chance for freedom whilst he is still enslaved. Which is patently ridiculous and unbelievable considering the first chunk of the book sets Attia up as exceedingly devoted to the scattered remains of her people, the renowned fighters, the Maedi, and willing to go to any lengths to reclaim her crown.

I also found the plot quite bizarre. There's a scene where the family are travelling with their retinue, which includes slaves like Attia and a contingency of gladiators, and they are surrounded and out-numbered by a group of sword-wielding villagers who want their provisions and Xanthus. But instead of just taking what they want, they agree to some insane plan of putting Xanthus in an arena and he has to fight anyone they send at him until dawn. If he survives, they go free. Why would this happen?? It wouldn't. There's also this odd twisting of historical events and their timeline to fit the narrative of the book, which didn't really bother me too much, but did feel a touch unnatural and forced.

Because maybe in this house, in this prison, they both wanted the same impossible thing: to be just a man and just a woman, standing free in the rain

Blood and Sand had it's entertaining and awesome, badass moments, but it also felt slow in terms of plot and moving at break-neck speed in terms of romance. There's also a lot of characters with similar names (Lucius, Lucretia, Lebuin, etc.) who often feel like props - Lucretia is a slave whose only role is basically to be pitied by Attia. Blood and Sand, I think, will appeal to a specific type of reader who, unfortunately, was not me.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book

Read this review and more on my blog: https://atlasrisingbooks.wordpress.co...
Profile Image for Ellie.
575 reviews2,113 followers
October 19, 2018
This is so gooooood! So underappreciated too. It brought back my fond memories for Roman-inspired series like The Winner’s Curse (also SO underappreciated imo.)

This book is a quick, addictive read and I fell in love with the cast of characters (especially the women! They were all so cool) and I’m 100% invested in the sequel. There’s so many interesting ways it could go.

I listened to it on audiobook and I have to say I absolutely loved the narrator. Her voice was so pleasant and she was so talented at doing voices.
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