Mini Review Monday: Ancient Rome

blood and sandBlood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
Series: Untitled #1
Published by: 
Tor Teen
Pub Date: 
January 16, 2018
arc | Source: borrowed
young adult, historical fiction, retelling
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars


The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic―and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus…

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end―and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus…

I find that it’s somewhat difficult to find quality YA historical fiction set in Ancient Rome, which is one reason I was so excited for Blood and Sand! The fact that it was a Spartacs retelling was a bonus. Luckily, it pulled me in right away- it’s an exciting beginning and I liked Attia’s character. I enjoyed so much of this book, especially the first half. The fight scenes were very visual. Unfortunately the second half felt disjointed and part of me wishes that this was a longer standalone instead of a series. I also felt like some of the characters weren’t fully developed- I could barely tell the difference between Xanthus’ gladiator brothers. That all being said, I’m very interested in reading Fire and Ash (the sequel) next year!
jennifer aniston

lady of the eternal cityLady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn
Series: Empress of Rome #4
Published by: 
Berkley Trade
Pub Date: 
March 3, 2015
paperback | Source: purchased
adult, historical fiction
Rating: 5_star_rating_system_5_stars

National bestselling author Kate Quinn returns with the long-awaited fourth volume in the Empress of Rome series, an unforgettable new tale of the politics, power, and passion that defined ancient Rome.

Elegant, secretive Sabina may be Empress of Rome, but she still stands poised on a knife’s edge. She must keep the peace between two deadly enemies: her husband Hadrian, Rome’s brilliant and sinister Emperor; and battered warrior Vix, who is her first love. But Sabina is guardian of a deadly secret: Vix’s beautiful son Antinous has become the Emperor’s latest obsession.

Empress and Emperor, father and son will spin in a deadly dance of passion, betrayal, conspiracy, and war. As tragedy sends Hadrian spiraling into madness, Vix and Sabina form a last desperate pact to save the Empire. But ultimately, the fate of Rome lies with an untried girl, a spirited redhead who may just be the next Lady of the Eternal City . . .

Oh MY GOD. One of the best series enders I have ever read! Why oh why did I wait two years to read it!  Kate Quinn paints the most masterful picture of Rome. I also adored the various settings- they were rich and vivid in detail yet pleasing to read. Kate Quinn’s writing never becomes bogged down in extraneous description; it always adds depth and flavor to every single scene, which makes for compelling and readable historical fiction.

The characters were complex and so, so interesting. I particular loved Annia, though Hadrian was arguably the most multi-faceted. They’re all so richly drawn that they feel like living breathing people (and in fact some of them were, once upon a time). I didn’t always know how certain true historical events coincided with fictional occurrences in the book and that gave it a unique pleasure for me. There is a lot of heartbreak and drama and violence, but there’s a good bit of humorous dialogue too. Even though my heart was racing, I loved not knowing what was around the corner. I had SO many emotions while reading! The mounting tension, the intriguing familial relationships, and the romances. It was a wonderful, sumptuous book and I urge everyone to pick up this series! Someday I would love to reread it as it’s one of my favorites ever.
crylaugh  perfection

Are you a fan of historical fiction and ancient Rome in particular like me? Do you tend to read more YA or Adult hist fic? Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday: Ancient Rome

  1. Nick says:

    I completely agree about Blood and Sand! You and I said pretty much the same thing about the book. That it felt a bit disjointed and would have been better off as a standalone.

    Oooh! That Kate Quinn series sounds good! I’m glad it was a good ender for you. I’ll need to look into this series.


    • Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle says:

      It’s so baffling to me, what switched halfway through?! I really thought there would be more gladiator fights for Attia too. Oh well.

      Omg PLEASE do!!! It’s amazinggggg, three of my friends have been reading it in various stages recently and it makes me so happy. It’s a great series.


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