Review: Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton

March 15, 2016 Reviews 3 ★★★★½

Review: Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn HamiltonRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Faber & Faber on February 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 358
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository • Bookworld
Goodreads
four-half-stars

"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 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...

An epic story of swirling desert sands, love, magic and revolution.

angelyas_reviewA Western film set in a desert with an Arabian feel, supernatural beings hiding in the shadows and a Prince out to take back a kingdom. Rebel of the Sands is a mashup of many types of story, but it works.

As soon as I read the blurb for this book, I hoped the story could live up to it. I was not disappointed. This book has everything: a feisty sharp-shooting girl, a mysterious foreign stranger, a caravan across desert sands, weapons of mass destruction, a train heist! So much is packed into 350-odd pages that there’s no time for slowing down. It’s all go-go-go!

The desert of Mirajn is a strange place, full of magic, but the frontier town with its guns and horses gives it the feeling of a Western film. The supernatural element comes in slowly, with the half-breed demiji in hiding from the occupying Gallan army. I did enjoy the almost-real-world sound to the nearby countries: Gallan, Xichia, Ionia, Albia. I wish there was a map in this book.

There were times when the gunslinging clashed with the Arabian cultural feeling, but it never felt too awkward. Alwyn’s descriptive writing style made the world very easy to picture. There are several different sides to this war, between the Gallan army, the Sultan’s forces and the Rebel Prince’s group, and by the end I was having a bit of trouble keeping track of who was on which side and what they were fighting for.

The characters in this book are brilliant as well, even though many aren’t introduced until late in the story. Amani is so frustrated with her lot as a woman, living on charity in her uncles house in the town of Dustwalk, that she takes every opportunity to get away from there to a better life. I loved her determination. She’s also perfect with Jin, with their snark and backchat and a few smouldering romantic moments thrown in. It’s a great slow-burn romance and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop further.

There’s no official title or release date for book two yet, but this is the first in a planned trilogy. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Recommended for: fans of old-style Westerns or Firefly, Arabian Nights

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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