Saturday 6 February 2016

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Last Updated: 31 May 2021

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton book cover

AD* | 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 rumour 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.

First things first - I loved this book!

Rebel of the Sands is a fast-paced, adventurous read. It's YA, but it has elements of so many different genres thrown in that it shouldn't work, but it really does. Action, adventure, western, romance... this book has them all.

On top of all that, the book's reality is infused with magic. Some important themes are dealt with in the story. The harsh realities of living in an inhospitable place, rebellion and the fight for power (a very current issue in the world today), even what it means to be a woman and the problems women have living in an inherently male-oriented world.

Magic and myth

However, these issues aren't at the forefront of the book. The magic and myth surrounding the desert landscape are captivating, drawing you into the world Hamilton creates, and weaving the story around the reader to keep you turning page after page.

I'm not usually a fan of the western genre in any medium, but the little touches of it present in this book are great, really adding to the story. The location and the initial set-up are classic western tropes (even if it is infused with fantasy), and further snatches of the genre surface at points throughout the book.

Rebel of the Sands is at its heart, a story of two characters. Eastern Snake and the Blue-Eyed Bandit - the two are what really brings this story alive. You have to admire their pluck and courage. No matter what situation arises and what they face, they go into everything head first without any doubts. Amani is one of the strongest female leads I've read about in a long time. She doesn't need her romance; she wants it. She's perfectly capable of taking care of herself and doesn't need a man to fight her battles. She's smart and sassy, but not annoyingly so, and is a really strong, likeable character.

Vivid imagery

The locations and setting are another strong point. Hamilton writes in such a way that you can really picture everything she's talking about as if it's right there in front of you. She's not an overly descriptive writer, but the sparse description she does use is all you need. It's not flowery, it's not over-written, but it perfectly fits the whole nature of the book.

If you have a chance to read this book, I really recommend it. It's a great read and will be well worth your while. One of the most exciting books of the year so far!

Rating: 5 stars

Rebel of the Sands is available to buy now (paid link; commission earned).

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review 

Will you be reading Rebel of the Sands? Let me know in the comments below!

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