Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Publication date: February 2016
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Length: 358 pages
Genre: High Fantasy, YA, Western, Romance
“Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.”
Dustwalk is Amani’s home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need.
Then a foreigner with no name turns up to save her life, and with him the chance to run. But to where? The desert plains are full of danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan’s enemies are on the rise.
8 reasons to read this book
- Each character is unique, with even the minor ones being given specific traits that make them all memorable.
- The setting is both wondrous and incredibly realistic: while magic exists in this world, humans are either taking advantage of it or fighting against it, effectively bleeding the earth of it, while the magical world itself tries to fight back and restore balance.
- The way sexism is presented. While women are constantly oppressed in the world itself (there is an important moment where the treatment of women vs. men is put into stark contrast), the narrative makes it so that the female characters are the ones that drive the plot: Amani saves the foreigner multiple times, Shazad is revered by the soldiers, Aunt Farrah runs the household (and her husband most of the time), and even Shira is instrumental to the army. While I was constantly reminded of how undervalued women were, each female character also came out on top on multiple occasions.
- The dynamic between the characters. It’s constantly changing, with most characters choosing to act in a way that would benefit them the most, instead of sticking to principles of good and evil (it was actually refreshing to have selfish characters for once because, let’s be honest, we’re not all selfless and charitable souls)
- Amani isn’t the special snowflake. While she is a bit more important skill-wise, what with being the main character and all, she isn’t the special snowflake of the series. At least, not in this book (and I certainly hope it remains that way)
- The writing mirrors the way Amani speaks, which allowed me to fully immerse myself in her head, rather than read the book as if it were a polished memoire. I have to admit, at first it was a little grating but as I got used to it, I realised how much more realistic it made Amani seem.
- There are 3 important plot twists, and a number of smaller scenes that are completely surprising
- The romance could be entirely dismissed and the book would be just as strong.
3 reasons not to read this book
- Your favourite minor characters Are. Not. Safe.
- The writing can get tiring due to the long descriptions done from Amani’s POV. I feel like Hamilton’s writing style flows quite easily but Amani’s voice seems at odd with it, so there are passages that feel a bit pushed.
- it’s rather graphic in its descriptions of violence and the entire tone of the novel is very gritty and cynical in its description of the world.