A mesmerising sandstorm of adventure, romance, action, and wonderfully drawn characters, “Rebel of the Sands” is both a stunning debut, and a very exciting start to a series…
Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al’Hiza must call it “home”. Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories. Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run. But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion.
So, a poor, orphaned teenager stuck in some dead end town, just happens to bump into a mysterious (and sexy) stranger, runs away with him and discovers the world, as well as herself, along the way. Sounds like tons of other fantasy books you’ve read, right? Well, in the case of “Rebel of the Sands”, you’ll be very, very mistaken. The reader is plunged headfirst into Amani’s world, and it’s not a book that’s easy to put down, with plot twists occurring on such a regular basis you’ll be racing to catch your breath. All clever, well crafted plot twists too, I hasten to add.
I happen to have a friend in common with author Alwyn Hamilton, and so was all set to go to the launch of this book. However, one broken elbow later (ouch), I had to cancel – but happily my friend had Alwyn dedicate me a copy, and the book turned up just before I left to go on holiday last week. Despite reading this in Austria, curled up with hot tea, overlooking the snowy alps, this book has such a brilliantly strong sense of place that you can’t help but be transported to the dusty, dangerous land in which the characters inhabit. Not only will you feel strongly for the leads, you’ll feel sand everywhere you touch…
My only real issue with the book is how abruptly it seems to end – I suddenly realised about twenty pages from the end that this was going to be the first in a series, and whilst I’m hugely excited for more, I was so invested in the characters that to not find out the ultimate fate of both them and their rebellion, briefly disappointed me – although the ending of book one is extremely good, so don’t be put off!
Amani deserves special mention too. Whilst strong, tomboyish leads are often pretty common in Fantasy books, Amani stands head and shoulders above the rest – in parts she reminded me of Lyra Belacqua from “His Dark Materials”, a character who remains my favourite female lead to this day. Amani is independent, funny, strong, brave, and doesn’t take any shit. The romance between her and Jin is compelling and real, never feeling forced but also never becoming particularly sickly, but rather passionate and unavoidable.
4.5 Stars out of 5 for this one from me – and I really, really can’t wait for more.