She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.
Rebel of the Sands is a book following the story of Amani, a young girl living in the desert trying to escape her dead end life in hopes for a better future in the big city. Naturally events occur that disrupt those plans. Mostly in the form of a foreign boy who ruins her chances of winning a shoot out. Unintentionally he brings the Sultan’s army on her doorstep looking anyone connected to him, mainly her.
The story progress as Amani takes her chance to run with the boy with no name and all the consequences of the choices they make. It’s compelling and fast paced, and very easy to read in one sitting.
Amani is an interesting character, she’s had a tough life living in the harsh desert, her mother was hung after murdering her father and her Uncle keeps trying to marry her off as one of his brides. She’s constantly overlooked as a woman in a man’s world and dreams of more than she has. I related to her on that level, as a woman even now there are still times when I’m overlooked based on assumptions or preconceived opinions about how woman are or should be.
The foreign boy is also an interesting character, I can’t talk too much about him without spoiling plot points for you but there’s definitely a complicated past built into this character that added much needed layers to him. Otherwise it could have been a very cliche story about a mysterious boy coming into a girls life and changing the way she sees the world. Thankfully it wasn’t quite that.
What I really loved about this story was the world building, Alwyn Hamilton has written a complete backstory and religion for this world, detailing how the first beings arrived on their land, the war that arose between the first beings and the demon world and how that’s impacted present day. We even get glimpses into the conflicting religions in neighbouring countries and how that changes the course of the story.
I loved the snippets of myths and legends we were given in the story, like how the demons battled with the first beings, or how humans were made. It was so fascinating and showed me that this author has really thought long and hard about this world and how it’s shaped her characters, rather than the other way around.
This is more than just a book about one girl’s journey, it’s a vastly detailed and explored look into another world and the delicate balance of power holding it all together.
It’s a book unlike anything I’ve read in a while, the closest thing I have to compare it too is the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. They both share wonderfully crafted worlds, complete with detailed political intrigue and regimes that date back centuries. When you’ve finished this book, definitely give those a go, you won’t be disappointed.
The downside that changed this from a 5 star book to a 4 star book for me was the fact there was no map at the start of the book. A fantasy novel like this, where the characters travel all over the world needs a map. I was constantly trying to place the characters in my head in relation to where they’ve been and where they are trying to go and I really struggled with it. Especially because there are a few different names for the same place, it was easy to get lost or confused at times. In book 2 I really hope there’s a map.
There were also a few world building issues that started to come about towards the middle and end of the book, which I felt liked related directly back to reader being unable to place themselves in the wider world the story takes place in, like how this character’s country plays on the worldwide political stage. As this is a debut novel I can forgive this a bit, obviously this author is still honing her craft and working on her skills, so hopefully in book 2 those issues will resolves themselves (with a map!).
If you’re looking for a fantasy read, with fantastic world building and magical structure give this a go.
4.5 stars out of 5
Anyone read any good fantasy books lately? I need some more books for my TBR, send me some recommendations please! I’d love to here from you ❤