Size Doesn’t Matter (114): Frostblood; Bound by Blood and Sand

Size Doesn’t Matter (114): Frostblood; Bound by Blood and SandFrostblood by Elly Blake
Series: Frostblood Saga #1
Published by Little Brown BFYR on January 10, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king's tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.

Frostblood‘s a book that I enjoyed a shit ton but that I would have completely loved had I not read so many fantasy novels. It’s not the most original or unique fantasy, but the ship’s so super excellent and the journey so much fun that it’s hard to care too much.

In the plot, there’s a lot that reminded me of other fantasy novels. Elements of The Impostor QueenThrone of GlassShadow and Bone, and even Snow Like Ashes for example. Obviously, there’s absolutely no way Blake was influenced by The Impostor Queen, since it came out just last year, but that’s also got a girl with fire powers and a boy with ice powers, so it’s hard to not see a similarity.

For all that the individual elements of the plot reminded me heavily of other stories I’ve read, they did come together in a satisfying way. It didn’t feel like I was reading other stories simply mashed up together, but a new story. That said, it was tough to be wowed by any of the twists because my first response was always to think about what other book had something very similar.

What saves Frostblood and makes it feel fresh are the characters. Well, actually, just the ship. Ruby and Arcus have chemistry like whoa, and I’m so completely on board this ship. Their banter and little nicknames for each other totally slay me. The fact that Arcus has a lot of scarring on his face and isn’t the typical male model hero just makes everything so much better. They keep making jokes even when they have more serious moments, and they are just perfection tbh.

The secondary cast could use way more development. Rasmus calls to mind the Darkling, but he doesn’t have that same allure and compulsion. Marella didn’t come across to me the way I think she was meant to. And, much as the book tried, I really didn’t care about any of the monks at all. Ruby’s relationships with Braka and Doreena are too swift and superficial.

The involvement by the country’s gods in the book is interesting. It’s the most original bit of world building, and I’d like to see more of that in book two. As it stands, a goddess steps in and is conveniently helpful, but it could be really fascinating and messy if all of the gods start taking an interest in what’s going on. I also want to see more of Ruby fighting with her dark side. Throughout, I love Ruby and her many negative qualities that add up to a deeply lovable human.

So I guess I’m a bit torn on this book, because I had so much fun with it and I love the romance, but I’d have liked more from it in terms of world building, plot, and characters. I have a need for the sequel, and I hope to see stronger secondary characters there.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (114): Frostblood; Bound by Blood and SandBound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen
Narrator: January LaVoy
Length: 9 hrs, 1 min
Series: Bound by Blood and Sand #1
Published by Listening Library on October 11, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
one-half-stars

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.

I’ve been so curious about Bound by Blood and Sand for along time. It’s one of those weird books that basically no one had a review copy of. No one I’m friends with on Goodreads has read this book. It came out in October and has 60 reviews as of mid-January. This book’s basically unknown, and sad to say that’s maybe not a bad thing. UNTAGGED SPOILERS AHEAD YO.

Not to put to a fine a point on it, but Bound by Blood and Sand is not a good book. It’s a whole bunch of fantasy and dystopian cliches thrown into a barely built fantasy world. The plot’s weak and predictable. The characters are flat and bland. Though it can be hard to tell on audiobook, the writing didn’t seem like particularly great shakes either. Across the board, Bound by Blood and Sand was a fail.

As the blurb so briefly states, “Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.” She’s one of the Closest, aka the most enslaved of the slaves. The Closest are the descendants of traitors from many generations back, and their lines have been punished with the Curse, which makes it so that they MUST obey all orders from the Avowed (aka upper crust folks); they physically cannot disobey. Trigger warning: the Avowed rape the Closest, and there’s a scene where Jae remembers her first rape at age 13. (The most interesting part of the book incidentally is when she straight up murders her rapist, though it’s frustrating that after her brother and Elan shame her for, not so much that aspect as the fact that other people could have died too because she used an earthquake to do it.)

This world (I’m not sure of the name of their country, just regions) is running out of water. Where lush gardens used to be, arid desert remains. It’s amazing how this book manages to not reflect environmental issues whatsoever. It’s pure fantasy. Rain will be produced by magic like poof.

The Highest (aka magical ruler people) are beginning to shut down rural estates because the drought is so bad, and they’ve sent a representative to Jae’s home of Aredann. That representative, Elan, is, shockingly, a young male who didn’t know things were so bad *gasp* with a heart of gold underneath all the privilege. He and Jae are so clearly going to be a chemistry-less thing.

Elan has plans to find the Well, and on one of his papers Jae sees a symbol she recognizes from Aredann’s fountain. She bleeds on the fountain and boom! She has magic now! The only magic user in generations! Except for the Highest, but just kidding they were lying all along and don’t have magic. They can’t control the Well after all. They’re killing people to hide the fact that they have no power. *cue evil laughing*

Jae knows all of this about what the Highest did generations ago because, along with her magical powers, she gets memories of what went down when the Well was made. It’s super convenient and Jae never has to figure anything out, though it still takes her longer to understand what she needs to do than it took me to understand. Jae also just magically knows how to use her magic. Nor does she try to give her twin brother Tal magical powers by having him bleed in the damn fountain, even though theoretically it seems like any of the Closest could potentially be magical. But whatever Jae needs to be special.

The book ends predictably, with a vision showing her that the nigh endless supply of water that filled the Well requires another human sacrifice to bind the magic. Tal, Jae, and Elan argue over who gets to die for the cause and Tal, of course, bites it in the cheesiest death scene ever; I actually laughed through this conclusion. Literally, it was like “his last thought was I love you” and I lost it.

None of the characters have any motivations or interests outside of the plot. They’re all the blandest bland. Almost nothing actually happens and you can see all of it coming from miles away. Jae doesn’t have to work for her powers. The world’s hardly explained, and most of what you do learn comes from handy dandy memories Jae shouldn’t even have. This ain’t good fantasy.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Size Doesn’t Matter (114): Frostblood; Bound by Blood and Sand”

  1. Yikes, Bound by Blood and Sand sounds bad. Really bad. I keep confusing that and Rebel of the Sands. Too much sand.
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