Saba lives with her father (her mother is dead), twin brother Lugh, and younger sister Emmi in a wasteland, Silverlake, where laws do not exist. Half a year after Saba and Lugh turned eighteen, four cloaked horsemen show up, kill the father, and kidnap Lugh. The novel revolves around Saba's quest to find and rescue her brother, with whom she has a close relationship. The two are captured by a couple, Rooster Pinch and Miz Pinch, who force Saba to fight in the Colosseum for a man known as the Cage Master. The couple, Mr. and Mrs. Pinch, keep Saba fighting by abusing and threatening the life of Emmi.
Blood Red Road is the first book in the Dust Lands Trilogy. It is followed by Rebel Heart and finishes with Raging Star. Spoilers for all three books are marked.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Saba is described as having dark hair and eyes and not being very friendly. She has quite a few admirers to boot.
- Archer Archetype: Saba
- Amazon Brigade: The Free Hawks, a truly badass girl gang.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: De Malo to Saba.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Emmi,Saba's nine-year-old sister. She later proves herself.
- Convenient Miscarriage: After Saba "lies with" De Malo in book 2, she becomes pregnant and miscarries the child in book 3.
- Beast of Battle: Nero has been known to claw at attackers and Tracker fights off other wolfdogs to protect Saba.
- Braids of Action: At the start of the book, both Saba and her bother Lugh sport waist-length braids.
- Casualty in the Ring: The first book explains that in the cage, it's life or death, though fighters are usually killed after they lose three matches.
- The Charmer: Jack & Ike
- Death by Childbirth: Saba's mother died from complications after giving birth to Emmi.
- Dystopia: Saba's unnamed homeland makes Panem look like Club Med.
- Eternal English: If one can look past the Nu Spelling, the English langauge really hasn't changed all that much.
- Future Badass: More than one, but especially Saba. After all, the girl does earn the nickname "Angel of Death" during her cage-fighting career.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Maev is mortally wounded but stays behind to fight so the others can escape. She blows herself and all the Tonton in range up.
- Lovable Rogue: Jack
- Parental Abandonment: Most of the characters' parents have died.
- Mercy Kill: Saba kills Epona in the first book to prevent her from the horrors of being captured.
- Morality Pet: Emmi to Saba
- Stylistic Suck: Saba is young and completely illiterate, and her narration reflects this. (At one point, she even refers to the written word as "a series of black squiggles".)
- Survivor Guilt: Happens to a few characters but is most noticeable in Saba.
- Unusual Pets for Unusual People: The Angel of Death has a pet crow. Crows symbolize death in many cultures. She also picks up a wolfdog on the way.
- Would Hurt a Child: The lovely Miz Pinch, who kidnaps Saba and Emmi with an eye to selling Saba into cage-fighting slavery; Saba herself, who can't resist backhanding Emmi across the face on at least one occasion.