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Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen

Monday, April 15, 2019

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.

Goodreads Summary

Jae reminded me of Ella from Ella Enchanted. She doesn't have magic spell cast upon her forcing her to do what her ownders dictate, but she is forced nonetheless. Jae isn't unhappy when the realm begins to fall apart. She would like to see it all go away and burn up. Unfortunately, Jae ends up finding the secret to the fresh water renewel from the Well. In her opinion, she doesn't have a hard choice. She doesn't want to step in and help a society that has kept her as a slave. Lord Elan belives that she is condemning every living creature over her anger. She decides to help if, and only if, all slaves are freed. Unfortunately, there are powerful institutions in play that will not let slavery go so easily. 

I loved Jae's character. She emodied everything I imagined she would given her horrible situation: angry, resentful, and full of rage. Jae's slavery status is due to her being a "Closest" or one who must obey the "Avowed" due to them behaving as traitors decades and decades earlier. The author spares no details about the horror and abuse the Closest face from rape to beatings. Jae and Tal, her brother, respond to the abuse differently. Neither wants to be touched, but Jae is more full of rage and Tal is tired and beaten down. I was surprised by the ending and it was a little disheartening. I liked that the author stuck to the more realistic version, but I always want happily ever afters.

4 Stars

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