Rebel of the Sands: Review

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I knew I needed to bump Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton, up on my list based on rave reviews from fellow readers, and I am so glad that I did. It combines Hindu mythology, fantasy and magic, with action and battles fought across a desert landscape. There was something crazy compelling about this book. Maybe it was Hamilton's descriptive writing that drew you into her world of magic, or the fierce attitude of our protagonist. Either way, Rebel of the Sands is exquisite and such a fun read!

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

One of my favorite things about this book was its deceptively simple plot and conflict. On the surface, it's a typical power struggle between princes for a throne that could either save or damn a nation. It's about a girl's escape from unfortunate circumstances in search of something bigger and better.

But then Hamilton weaves in these magical characters called the Demji (half Djinni, half human), and throws in some guns and explosives, and the story is instantly enhanced! All it really takes, see, are these dynamic, powerful characters, and a solid mythos and magic system, and Rebel of the Sands has all of that.

I thoroughly enjoyed Amani as a protagonist. She kicks butt, she has an uncanny aim with a gun, and she would rather die in a desert than live chained to her fate. Did I already say that I love her? However, I thought some of her bigger moments of self-reflection and discovery were a little rushed. She lives fast and furiously, and has always just thought of herself as an ungainly desert girl who would much rather be a boy. When Amani discovers that she is so much more, I wanted something bigger and flashier, to match the velocity at which the rest of the book was moving.

If you enjoy action, magic, and mythology, you'll love Rebel of the Sands, and it lives up to all of my expectations. The only complaint is that the publisher changed the covers midway through the series! I want to pick up the second book, Traitor to the Throne, but the matching cover is only available in paperback, whereas I already have a signed copy of Rebel of the Sands in hardback. What to do?!

I rate Rebel of the Sands 4/5 stars!

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