Bound by Blood and Sand
by Becky Allen
Published on October 11th 2016
by Delacorte Press
Narrator: January LaVoy
Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.
Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.
Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.
But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.
Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.
You know I love fantasy, right? When I first saw the cover for Bound by Blood and Sand I knew I had to read it. And when I saw the glowing reviews of some of my fellow blogger friends I bumped it up on my reading list. Bound by Blood and Sand is such an unique story that it’s at times hard to read (or listen to, in my case), but that manages to be incredibly good.
Jae and Tal are twins and slaves. They are part of the “Closest” which are a group of people that were cursed hundreds of years ago for a rebellion against the “Highest” (the governing class). As part of the curse they must obey EVERY order given by the “Avowed”, they can’t even speak unless they are given permision to do so and they MUST ALWAYS tell the truth. If they don’t do as they’re told they feel excruciating pain. Now, pause here for a second and think about that. It’s just terrible, unjust, awful, and plain wrong.
Jae (and Tal) are part of the closest Aredann, a city on the brink of being abandoned due to a terrible drought. However, quite by accident Jae manages to find hidden magic and unlock it. Jae is young (about 18), but had a hard life. A life of heavy labor, submission, and abuse (of the physical and emotional one) and she’s bitter, angry, and full of power. Can she make herself use her power for good? To save Aredann and his friends? Or is revenge more important? Jae is strong, truthful, awkward, brutally honest and cares for one person in the world, her brother.
Elan is a Highest prince and he’s sent to Aredann to assess the situation with the drought. The power of the Well – the source of all the water of the land – is dwindling and the Highest must make difficult decisions for the population. Elan doesn’t agree with this, but goes along with what he’s been told and grown up believing. Once Jae finds magic he wants to use it to find the Well and save the outlying cities. Elan grows a lot during the course of the story. He goes from a naive and obedient son to a man that questions the status quo and does what’s right, even when it’s not easy.
The story is told from the third point of view – from Jae and Elan’s. I felt that the pace was a bit slow at places, but it did manage to keep my interest. The setting is desert-like, which is kind of appropriate to the rawness of the story. Allen’s writing is dry and straightforward, but compelling and thought provoking.
Becky Allen created a world that is so full of cruelty and ugliness, but then also gives us a glimpse at what could be, a window of hope. It deals with very serious topics, like slavery, rape, death, injustice and loss, while keeping within the realm of young adult. I wanted to cry for the main character’s suffering, and the feels were real my dear readers. I smiled, cried and felt the impotence of the characters.
Overall, Bound by Blood and Sand is a great beginning to the series. It’s a story of magic, lost memories, loss, heartbreak, hope and doing what’s right. It’s a must read for all fantasy fans that are looking for a different story and I cannot wait for its sequel.
This is my first book narrated by January LaVoy. I liked that the voices were distinctive from each other, the pace was adequate and the her acting capabilities were great. I wish there had been two narrators, one for Jae and one for Elan, but all in all, I think LaVoy did an excellent job.