Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Beyond the Wall by Tanya Landman - review

Publisher: Walker Books (6th April 2017)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

From Tanya Landman, author of the 2015 Carnegie Medal winner Buffalo Soldier, comes a heart-stopping tale of love, corruption and the power of choice. Blood on her lips. Blood on her tongue. Blood that is not her own. Cassia does not fear to die, but for her - for a slave who has maimed her master - there are worse things than death. Yet the mighty Roman Empire has its limits. Beyond her master's estate, beyond the river, far to the north stands Hadrian's Wall. And beyond the wall? Freedom. With dogs on her trail and a bounty on her head the journey seems impossible. But then Cassia meets Marcus - slick, slippery, silver-tongued - a true and perfect son of Rome. And her only hope. (Publishers' blurb)

This seems to be the year that I've finally got into historical fiction and Beyond the Wall is a great example.

One of my favourite things about this book was the feeling of empowerment it gave me. I really liked feeling that the actions of a few can ripple through an empire and the world. That somehow felt very relevant to modern circumstances...

The narrative viewpoint was really interesting, featuring an omniscient narrator that was able to explore the main characters' stories, including the villainous slave owner. This gave the opportunity not only to get to know the different characters, but also to unfold plot points from their perspectives. The only challenge for me was that sometimes this made me feel a bit distant from the characters. 

The historical setting was another real strength. I got a really good sense of the time period through the use of interesting details like the clothing, homes and transport. Although the subject matter was disturbing in places, it felt like this was necessary to capture the horrific life of a slave.

This book took me through different emotions: it was moving, powerful and it made me think. It's my first Tanya Landman book and I'm looking forward to reading more.


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