Bound by Blood and Sand By Becky Allen

    Becky Allen ´ 6 Read & download

    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. 

    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 realm’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. Bound by Blood and Sand

    I really did want to like this one a bit more than I actually did. It's fine, and it is a debut novel, so I'm willing to cut a bit of slack here. There was nothing particularly wrong, it just fell a bit flat for me. I had a hard time getting invested in the characters, wanting a bit more depth from them. Although the stories are totally different, it's hard not to compare this book to another 2016 debut desert-themed YA fantasy, Rebel of the Sands, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    That said, I'm not completely ruling out reading the next book, it just won't be one I'm rushing out to read. English Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner!

    Beware spoilers ahead!

    I received this Arc in participation of the blog tour and the Sunday street team. When I saw this book amongst the October SST I immediately signed up. I liked the synopsis and I thought that this book would be very interesting. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

    I was not sure whether or not I would like this book. Considering that the main character is a slave I was afraid I wouldn't be able to take. I was actually quite surprised that this book wasn't graphic! Yes there were some scenes that were quite horrible but it didn't bother me.

    The book is written in third person alternating between Jae and Elan's point of views. There are also some flashbacks that prove to be very important to the plot.

    The book begins with Jae as she is tending to the garden. Unfortunately she cannot do that good of a job because Aredann (the estate where she lives) is lacking water. Her guardian Lady Shirrad allows Jae to use the water carefully as she is expecting a very important guest.

    Once her work is over Jae makes her way to her quarters and talks with her twin brother Tal. Their conversation is interrupted by another slave who mentions he has information on the guest that arrived. Said guest is Lord Elan who is a prince. The reason for the visit is to determine whether Aredann is worth saving. The Highest (Elan's people) can only give so much water to the estates. According to said Closest (the slave) the Highest are planning on moving Lady Shirrad and her servants to another location so that they can pass the water along more easily. But the Closest will not be coming.

    This is literally the most powerful book I have read to this day! It really makes you think about everything differently. Especially water and how there are so many people in this world that don't have access to it. And wow the writing style was so good!

    The magic system in this book was very interesting! The author manages to make you feel like you are with the characters going through their journey and suffering. It honestly felt like I was in a desert even though I was in my bedroom.

    I especially liked reading about the characters and their relationships with one another. All the characters are gray and very well done! I liked all of them (expect Elan's father) even Lady Shirrad, who in the end earned my respect.

    I loved Tal and Jae's relationship. Tal brought the good side in Jae out. Tal was also quite sweet himself. Jae is a very different character than I am used to reading. She is very bitter and angry. But there is goodness in her. Elan was somewhat annoying in the beginning. Throughout the book he grew. His character development was my favourite to read about!

    There is literally zero romance in this book! Which is something very rare in fantasy. Jae and Elan's relationship was definitely interesting to read about. Jae despised Elan at first as the book continued they have an almost friendship. They trust each other but they're not necessarily friends. I have feeling that they will become something more in the next book.

    I enjoyed reading about Jae's powers and how they connected to the Well. And the Well's history was very interesting as well. I did not see that plot twist that came in the end! It was beautiful and depressing at the same time. Come to think of it I didn't see anything coming.

    This book is quite slow but I found that it worked for the plot. As it is also focused on the characters. I found that the author did a good job of balancing the plot with the flashbacks. They were became overbearing. In fact I looked forward to reading the flashbacks.

    I didn't have any problems with this book. It just felt like a 3 star read.

    Overall I enjoyed this book! I will definitely be reading the sequel and possibly anything this author writes. I highly recommend this series to everybody! I personally feel that this is an important book that everyone should read.

    Giveaway for a preoder of Bound by Blood and Sand! English ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

    Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen
    Book one of the Bound by Blood and Sand series
    Publisher: Delacorte Press
    Publication Date: October 11, 2016
    Rating: 4 stars
    Source: ARC sent by the publisher

    Summary (from Goodreads):

    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.

    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 realm’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.

    What I Liked:

    I had a feeling that I would love this book, and the book did not disappoint me! Desert fantasy novels are some of my favorite fantasy books (Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, etc.), and I can safely add this book to that list of awesome desert fantasy novels.

    Jae and her twin brother Tal are Cursed slaves at Aredann, an outlying estate whose reservoir is rapidly drying. The lack of water might be because of the drought, or the increasing population in cities, but the Highest are supposed to be in control of the magic that keeps the water flowing. Elan, son of the Highest, has come to Aredann to try and find the Well to save Aredann, but his father has declared that Aredann be abandoned. But Jae is the one to find hidden magic that enables her to find the Well. Broken of the chains of the Curse, Jae will stop at nothing to free Aredann and the other slaves from the Curse and its cruel ruling family.

    One of the things that I did not expect from this book was how heartbreaking it was. Jae and the other slaves (called Closest) are Cursed because of their traitorous bloodlines (an ancestor betrayed the Highest, years ago). The Curse is such that the Closest must obey any order given by an Avowed or Highest. Meaning, any question asked, any order given, must be followed, and the truth must always be told. If orders are not followed, the Curse causes great pain - which is how orders are always followed, truths are always told.

    A large part of this story lies in the heartbreaking part I'm going to talk about. The Closest are given orders... including lying with any of the Avowed living at the estate. Meaning, any Avowed can tell any of the Closest to visit his/her chamber and the Closest must obey. In plain terms, the Closest are often raped by the Avowed. Jae is not spared, neither is Tal, or any of the other young Closests. This was a hard pill to swallow. I almost stopped reading the book.

    BUT, the author's treatment of rape is, in my opinion, good. Meaning, the author writes the tortured helplessness of the Closest well, without going into explicit detail about what happens with the Closest and the Avowed. And we find that the one Avowed that touches Jae (touches) is properly dealt with at some point, which made me feel a little better. Still, the psychological and emotional damage... especially in Tal's case. My heart broke over and over for Tal. For Jae too, who now hates to be touched.

    So, this book is rife with heartbreak and tough issues. I usually do not go for books with rape (I just can't - I'm sorry), and so this book took me by surprise. However, I was able to keep reading, and to understand how important that part of the story and the world-building really was. And our heroine is so strong and capable, and handles herself well.

    So the world is a tough one, a heartbreaking one, but a very well-constructed one. As much as the rapes freaked me out and the general idea of slavery too, I was horrified and fascinated with the estate. I was rooting for Jae to find a way out, or a way to change things.

    Jae is... she is such a strong heroine. This book is written in third person limited (alternating between her and Elan's third person POVs). I adored Jae so much, and I was cheering for her from start to finish. You can't not feel for her, and want her to get out of there. Her new magical abilities are pretty cool, and I like that she isn't some kind of prodigy (yet). I liked Tal too, though he is more passive than Jae. Tal has his strengths though, and he's very important to the story.

    Elan is the prince (but not the heir), and he really wants to prove himself to his father. Unfortunately, things don't work out as planned, and Elan learns some truths that his father hid from him (and everyone). Elan starts as a somewhat passive prince, not wanting to cross his father, but he grows a spine by the end of the book. I look forward to seeing more character growth from him.

    There is very very VERY little romance in this book, which I actually really appreciated. I could see Jae and Elan being a thing, but there is so little in terms of romance in this book. In fact, really, there are one or two lines that indicate potential budding of feelings or chemistry, but no touchy-feely physical or emotional scenes. Which really worked in this story! I hope to see more though, in the next book.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book. The ending is so sad, though very hopeful too. The story in general made me so sad, and I was taken aback by the content (it's just not what *I* expected). However, the fantasy world, the characters, the setting, and the story were so well-written. I was totally engrossed, and now I want more!

    What I Did Not Like:

    I can't think of anything that I didn't like, at the moment. There were things that surprised me and freaked me out a little (rape, slavery... those things SHOULD freak people out), but both had their place in this world.

    Would I Recommend It:

    If rape and slavery and lack of free will are difficult for you to read, perhaps avoid this book! It's a much heavier fantasy novel than most YA fantasy novels these days. But if that content doesn't bother you too much (I don't know how to phrase that without it sounding callous, sorry!) or you are interested in such a story, definitely give this book a chance. Good fantasy, good treatment of the issues, and really great characters.


    4 stars. I look forward to reading the next book in the series! I'm excited to see where things will go. Will Jae be forgiving and merciful? Will she and Elan be betrayed? I can't wait! English the vein of Tamora Pierce



    English the vein of Tamora Pierce...
    ...vein of Tamora Pierce...
    Tamora Pierce...
    Tamora Pierce...


    I highly recommend this book.

    1. The way magic works in this world is described in ways I have never encountered before, and that is a RARE gift in fantasy novels.

    2. The prose is tight, and clean, and easy to read.

    3. The characters all have entirely comprehensible motivations and reasons, and no-one ever carries the idiot stick just because the plot says so.

    4. This is the best and more nuanced description of ally-ship I can remember encountering in fiction.

    There are characters who begin with more power and privilege than other characters. And, along the way, more information comes forth about that power. And some characters move into being allies, and others do not.

    And the WAY that shift is portrayed is subtle, and thoughtful, and understanding. At no point does the ally become the savior. At no point is the pain of the allies given more weight or more importance that the pain of the oppressed. But the allies are human, and their lives and experiences have meaning, and they are given chances to grow and change.

    When they do change, they do so imperfectly. They screw up. They mean well, do their best, and screw up. But they go on. They continue to try to be better. They don't give up.

    This is all, you understand, NOT the main point of the plot. The plot is about Jae and her experiences. But so often we get stories in which power is there only to be destroyed or suborned, and here we get a fully human look at all sides of the power imbalance -- while never privileging the strong.

    It's a real triumph of writing.

    If you have ever felt like you wanted to help someone, but you didn't want to screw up and you didn't want to get yelled at for trying, read this book. Be a better ally. Learn how to fail gracefully.

    I highly recommend Bound by Blood and Sand.


    “Everything Jae had ever known was a lie.”
    I've been waiting for something in the vein of Tamora Pierce for a pretty long time. What I truly love is that Bound by Blood and Sand does not claim to be Tamora Pierce, the next Tamora Pierce, or a combination of popular or similarly loved books. In fact, once the official synopsis hit in the vein of Tamora Pierce vanished. Though I do firmly believe that if you were—still are!—a fan of Tamora Pierce's work and the young adult fantasy genre that is more world building less “just another YA romance” this book is for you!!! Yes!
    “Jae had so much power, and the very first thing she'd done with her freedom was kill.
    But she'd grown flowers, too.
    She could do anything.”
    I won't lie, like some of Tamora Pierce works, Bound by blood and Sand does follow a formula. The old school formula of High Fantasy for young adult. Yet it has bold flavors of old and new, and Allen has created a compelling world and cast of characters. Best of all Becky Allen does not shirk away from going there. In her world there are people called Closest, their existence is worse then slavery. They are compelled by magic to obey the Highest. If they fail to obey their body is weighed down by pain. There is no option to not obey. They can not speak to anyone other than other Closests unless ordered otherwise. They must answer all questions asked and aren't even allowed to think traitorous thoughts about the Highest. In a society where you can order someone and they MUST obey you know there's gonna be some dark and scary things happening. What I said about Becky Allen not shirking away is that she addresses those dark things. The darker themes are not a footnote or a quick idea to fade away into a silly romance. Which I appreciate. (Defy I am judging and looking at you.)

    Bound by Blood and Sand isn't just a wonderful high fantasy young adult title, it transforms into a discussion of human rights. The weight and power of knowledge. How simply controlling history you could suppress an entire people. The power of not only knowledge, but the of the belief of people. The struggle for freedom is always a story that I become swept up in.
    “Tal was right, the cost of freedom would be high. But that didn't mean it wasn't worth paying.”
    Now that I've laid the heavy stuff out there I have to say how much I loved Allen's writing. Normally desert settings don't do it for me. I'm a mountain and forest girl. While I might like the desert in pictures and a quick scenery change while traveling I am 100% certain I would hate to live there. So most of the time desert settings for fantasy bore me. Yet with every word Allen created a beuatiful and deadly world. Where the Wells are the only thing keeping the people alive. The desert could easily kill them without wells. So water and the Wells are where the power is.

    The magic setup and the concept tickle me. Why would people chose to live in a desert where without magic wells you'd die? What's beyond the big well? More, more! Bound by Blood and Sand addresses the real history of the world so I except to find out more in the future books.

    At first it may seem like the characters are standard issue for the genre, but many once developed had many layers. You began to question how the world was. For instant the Highest aren't all evil, but perhaps they have to be that way becaue of the laws of the current system?

    In the end I don't want to spoil. So what I will say is that if you have been dying for a REAL high fantasy in the young adult genre this is a must. If you have missed Tamora Pierce's type of awesome then yes! Come forth and read this book. If you want to experience real High Fantasy this is for you! A fabulous setup for a series I am eagerly awaiting more books for! With world building like this fans will be happy!

    Content Warning: Addresses sexual abuse, rape, slavery, and other dark topics. Deals with murders and the interpretation of justice. Mental control in which characters aren't even allowed to think certain thoughts. Abuse and so on. Yes, it deals with dark themes. However, I don't think it loses itself in it.

    5/5 - Forget obsession this book consumed me.

    Originally reviewed at Book Whispers.
    English You know I hear of a lot of people who don't like romances in their books, more so in fantasies. If that is you, THEN GRAB THIS BOOK!! There's literally like .4% romance with the non-main characters. For them, there's like pretty much NO CHEMISTRY!! SO PLATONIC! I usually like romances but was pleasantly surprised at how the author wrote this eventual shift from suspicion to trust. IT WAS SO DAMN REALISTIC. And leaves way more room for magic, secrets unveiled, and a world to be saved.

    ++++recommended for fantasy fans!! English Magical slavery and survival in a fantasy desert world.

    Jae is a slave, one of the Closest, magically cursed to obey the ruling class of their desert country. The country is in trouble with a series of droughts causing them to abandon their outlying settlements and the deaths of the Closest of those settlements. As descendants of traitors he Closest aren't worth evacuating. In a remote outpost with a long history Jae discovers magic; magic that might save her outpost and even free her people, but somehow she needs to keep it from her enslavers.

    I enjoyed this fairly straightforward book. Jae and her brother Tal are great characters and the new arrival Lord Elan's struggle with his privilege and how to deal with a Closest with power is really interesting. I will continue the series. English I really liked this one! Didn't love it though. It was pretty slow but the world buildings and the characters were fantastic. I do wish there had been some romance though. That's what was lacking in this story for me. I'm hoping for some in the next book which I can't wait to read. English