Goodreads: Rebel of the Sands
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published: March 8, 2016
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.
Rebel of the Sands blew me away from the first page. With a unique, gritty voice and a strong heroine, the book will compel readers to love the desert as much as Amani does. Amani’s quest to find freedom and write her own destiny takes her through danger to many cities, but it is the sand that will always be her home.
Fantasy is my favorite genre, and Rebel of the Sands deliver the epic scope and wild adventures I love, all touched with a strong dose of magic. Though the story is grounded in Amani’s personal quest to be treated as an equal to men, respected for her courage and her skill with a gun, it eventually grows to encompass the fate of a kingdom. More on that in the next book, I assume, and I am definitely on board to find out what happens next.
Amani herself is fierce, but flawed enough I believe she’s human. She’s had a tough life in Dustwalk, and her number one priority is often herself. Sometimes that’s a merit; sometimes it’s not. I admit I was a bit disappointed by a cliche turn of events in her personal development later in the novel, but I do still really admire her and think she’s overall a heroine to root for.
The love interest is equally impressive, in his own right, but I honestly didn’t see the romance as a large part of the novel. Amani very noticeably pines over this guy, but often the romance seemed “told” to me rather than “shown.” I wasn’t invested in the relationship because much of it seemed to occur in Amani’s head rather than on the page. I do wonder if things might get more interesting in the next novel, but right now I think the adventure part of the story really overshadows the romance.
Overall, however, Rebel of the Sands is s stirring, compelling fantasy about widening your worldview, fighting for what you want, and caring for your friends. Highly recommended.