Monday, April 24, 2017

[Review] Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen

Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen
Series: Bound by Blood and Sand #1
Version: ARC paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Published: October 11th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis: 
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.
I think I'm just a sucker for Avatar: TLA with the whole four-elements wielding thing, especially when it is done right.

Bound by Blood and Sand definitely was right up my alley. It takes place in a dessert world where water is slowly drying up, and all water comes from the magical Well. However, no one really knows how to get the Well working again. This is where Jae comes in.

Jae is a Closest, and in this world, there are two groups of people - the Highest and the Closest. The Highest can be Avowed, and are given a certain role to fulfill (aka their vow). The Closest are slaves to the Highest, and when a Highest makes a demand, the Closest must see that it is fulfilled, no matter what. This is known as the Curse. We see Jae endure the hardships that come with being a Closest, and she begins to have visions of a past when her people were free.

Before I get too spoiler-y, essentially, Jae unlocks the powers of her people, begins to use water and earth, and loses the Curse that keeps her docile and constantly obeying orders. This is where it gets fun. 

Jae was a combination of Katara's care for her brother and Toph's sarcasm. And, of course, their elements! The moment Jae loses the curse, she turns into the scariest, most badass person. No one can get in her way.  She's fearless, perhaps the most fearless one in the book.

"I won't stop you from trying," she said. "But I m going to save Aredann, and I am going to save the other Closest, whether you smooth the way or not. I will do anything I need to. Don't ever forget that."

Also, the strength of her relationship with her brother Tal was boundless. I absolutely love strong friendships and sibling dynamics. Even though Jae was hell-bent on saving the world, it was meaningless without her brother by her side.

The idea of choosing between them, weighing Tal's life against all of theirs, made her stomach churn, and the meal became even less appealing. But she still knew, deep down, that Tal's life outweighed everything else. The other Closest, the Well, the Curse. He was her brother, her twin, the only one who'd ever tried to protect her. She'd endure anything if it meant saving him. 

Also, it may be small, but the slow-burn romance and interaction between Elan and Jae was great. It went from fascination and hatred to grudging respect and finally, to friendship and even something in the future. 

Just saying, can't believe only approx. 500 people rated this on Goodreads! It's a hidden gem, and I can't wait for the sequel. 

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