Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bound by blood and sand by Becky Allen

Jae is one of the Closest, a caste of people made slaves by the actions of their ancestors, and the Curse that ensures their obedience.  She and the rest of the Closest work for the Highest, the ruling caste that controls their world, including the water that flows from the Well.  The Well is the source of all water, it provides for all the people who live and once made the world a green and thriving place.  Recently though, the water has not been as plentiful and a severe drought has turned the world into a desert where everything struggles to thrive - including the people.  Lady Shirrad is a young ruler, and she rules with the arrogance and dominance of the other Highest, and she is determined to make a good impression about her estate at any cost.

When Lord Elan, a member of the ruling family, visits the estate it is not to save them from their fate, it is to tell them that they will have to abandon the estate so the water can be redirected to where it is needed.  For Jae it seems like a blessing in disguise, because she has discovered that she can do magic, and her magic may be able to save her people.  When her secret is discovered, Jae is forced to flee from her home in search of the mythical Well - her only companions her twin brother Tal and Elan.  It is a race against time, because if they can not reach the Well and save the estate, then everyone will die and Jae's magic will be worth nothing because she will lose everything.

In recent years there has been a trend towards writing fantasy novels for teens (and adults not too embarrassed to admit they read teen books) that are broad, sweeping, and across many books that build on an epic scale.  Bound by blood and sand is almost a throw back to a simpler time, the characters and scale reminding myself and other reviewers of Tamora Pierce style fantasy novels.  This novel is one of "enough" for me - there is enough known about the main characters to help you connect with them, you know enough about their world to understand how it works and why it works that way, you can connect to the world enough to really enjoy the story.  It may be considered a back handed compliment, but it was a real treat to connect with a world and characters where I could engage with everything but not feel overwhelmed. 

Parents, librarians and teachers will also be relieved to find a series without gratuitous sex and violence.  I love authors like Sarah J. Maas and on a personal level I really enjoy the fact that she treats her teenage audience with respect and doesn't pull any punches - but I can't in good conscience recommend her recent books to younger teens.  Allen has created a world that I could get lost in, and characters I could believe in - and even better, a book I can recommend to younger teens with protective parents. 

There are some interesting themes explored her as well which could make Bound by blood and sand a suitable book for assigned reading - slavery, the environment, vows and honour, civil rights, and many more.  I really look forward to the second book in this series because although the ending is satisfying to a certain extent - there has to be more to come and I want to know what it is!

If you like this book then try:
  • The girl of fire and thorns by Rae Carson
  • Sandry's book (The magic in the weaving) by Tamora Pierce
  • Tris's book (The power in the storm) by Tamora Pierce
  • Daja's book (The fire in the forging) by Tamora Pierce
  • Briar's book (The healing in the vine) by Tamora Pierce
  • Magic steps by Tamora Pierce
  • Street magic by Tamora Pierce
  • Cold fire by Tamora Pierce
  • Shatterglass by Tamora Pierce
  • Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
  • Winter of fire by Sherryl Jordan
  • Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The halfmen of O by Maurice Gee
  • Under the mountain by Maurice Gee
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland
  • Walk on Earth a stranger by Rae Carson
  • Snow in Summer: Fairest of them all by Jane Yolen
  • The castle behind thorns by Merrie Haskell
  • Soundless by Richelle Mead
  • Crown duel by Sherwood Smith

Reviewed by Brilla

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