Blood Bonds: The Caravan by Rosanne Licata

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Blood Bonds: The Caravan by Rosanne Licata

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely picaresque romance set amid the ancient caravan routes of the east and illuminating the lives some Vikings led there. The love story is very, very sweet and the prose has an elegant, classical feel. One for anybody who likes to get lost in their books. Rosanne Licata popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 280 Date: June 2012
Publisher: Friesen Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1770975667

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Raj is part Arab, part Roman. She's independent and strong-willed - too independent and strong-willed to fit well into a society where women belong in the home and only men can bring change to the world. So she runs away. Disguised as a boy, she is roaming the streets of Antioch when she encounters Bjornolf, a Danish king. Drawn to him in a way she can't explain, Raj stows away on the caravan he is guarding. As the journey continues, Raj must decide whether the terrible dangers to both Bjornolf and herself are worth risking if she reveals her true nature to him...

... oh, I did enjoy this enchanting, romantic, multi-faceted story.

One thread is of a comedy of manners - Raj is the woman in disguise, Bjornolf is, of course, a troubled Prince Charming, and Kemal is the brother whose sexist prejudices need exposing. But Licata makes this aspect of the novel very kindly. Kemal isn't so much satirised as led by example, very kindly, and eventually he comes to see that women have as much - and perhaps in Raj's case, more - as men to offer the world.

Another thread illuminates the lives led by Norsemen in the ancient east. We think of Vikings as marauders and invaders, attacking Britain's northern coasts. But they also travelled east and south and their stories there are just as interesting. Licata draws a vivid picture of the tall, bright, openhearted Norsemen who were in such contrast to the smaller, darker, more subtle Arabs.

And there's a thrilling strand too, as the caravan is put at risk by an enemy whose magic, unlike Raj's, is not used for good. But, of course, the main story is a love story. Raj and Bjornolf are spirit twins and their love story is quite beautiful. But they must each face and vanquish huge obstacles if they are ever to be together. The scenes between these two characters are incredibly tender and really quite beautiful. I won't say too much more for fear of spoiling it for you.

Licata writes in elegant, classical prose. Her vocabulary and syntax matches. Overall, although there is plenty of action, the pace is therefore quite slow and absorbing. This is an intimate read and quite a demanding one, too. Blood Bonds is one for anybody who likes to get lost in their books, enjoys a heartfelt love story, and likes a vivid period setting. As such, it ticks all my boxes.


Another story of Vikings in the east is the wonderful Bracelet of Bones (Viking Sagas) by Kevin Crossley-Holland. I think you might also enjoy the high classical feel of The Fatal Child by John Dickinson.

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Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site. Bookinterviews.jpg Rosanne Licata was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.