Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands, #1
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Release Date: February 4th 2016
“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 Amani’s home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need.
Then a foreigner with no name turns up to save her life, and with him the chance to run. But to where? The desert plains are full of danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan’s enemies are on the rise.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Amani wants to escape from her home town, a place where nothing happens and there is not future for her, at least no future she wants. After she overhears her uncle talking about taking her as one of his wives the desire Amani feels to escape Dustwalk becomes a need. She heads over to the next town and enters the pistol pit, hoping to scrap together enough money to run away to Izman and never look back. It is in the pit she first meets the Eastern Snake.
Growing up in Dustwalk where they have more guns than food, Amani trained herself how to shoot and she is one of the best. She makes it through to the final round alongside the Eastern Snake but then all hell breaks loose. Forced to flee Amani finds herself back at square one; in her uncle’s house with no hope of escape having spent all her money entering the pistol pit. That is until the Eastern Snake, Jin, seeks shelter in her aunt and uncle’s shop from the Sultan’s guards, accused of treason. Seeing her opportunity to escape in the form of the foreigner whose life she just saved Amani asks for his help.
When a Buraqi arrives in town, attracted by the fire, it provides Jin the distraction he needs. He blows up the factory, steals the Buraqi, and escapes with Amani from Dustwalk and the Sultan’s guards. However, escaping with Jin means the Sultan’s guard new believes Amani knows more about him than she does. After running from Jin and boarding a train to Izman Amani finds herself trapped when the one of the Sultan’s commanders tracks her down. Jin catches up with her and in order to flee they are forced to jump from the train and into the middle of the desert.
With no other choice Jin and Amani are forced to take work with a band of merchants, travelling across the desert, to get them safely towards Izman. As they head deeper into the desert the soon find themselves discovering a deadly new weapon in the Sultan’s hands, and find themselves caught in the middle of a war between the Sultan and his army, and the Rebel Prince.
Amani has heard stories of far-away places from her mother, and she knows there is more out there than Dustwalk. She wants to escape and she is willing to do whatever it takes to make her dreams of Izman a reality. She has a smart mouth which tends to get her into trouble with her aunt, as well as one of the Commanders of the Sultan’s guard. Amani is very independent, she has big ideas and dreams for a girl in her small town but those ideas are what gives her the need to escape.
Jin, like Amani, is a good shot and he also doesn’t belong in Dustwalk. He is secretive and doesn’t really open up to Amani about his family, though he accidently lets little things slip every now and again. As he travels with Amani he tries to protect her though he does respect her skill with a pistol. He attempts to talk her out of going to Izman when she has no idea what to expect from the capital and no one there but an aunt she’s never met. However when he realises she will go with or without him he offers to travel with her.
As Amani and Jin travel through the desert in the company of the Camel’s Knees they grow closer. They talk more about their pasts and Jin lets more slip about his family and his home so far away. However I would have liked to see more of their relationship develop. They travelled through the desert together for weeks but the story skipped over that, so at times it felt like we missed out on a huge chunk of their growing relationship. Amani comes to lean on Jin; she gets to know him, trusts him, and relies on him. They work well as a team as they protect the Camel’s Knees during the night. She becomes used to his company and the idea that one day soon they will go their separate ways sits heavy on her mind.
Amani is the kind of person who looks out for herself and for her own needs first, which is refreshing in a world of YA characters who are willing to sacrifice anything for other people. When her friend in Dustwalk is injured and Amani is faced with the choice of fleeing with Jin and surviving, or staying with Tamid and facing certain death, she chooses her own life. Again when she is hiding inside a prayer house and the Sultan’s guard interrogates Demdji, a child of an immortal Djinn and a mortal woman, she stays hidden; knowing that there is nothing she can do to help without risking her own life needlessly.
The world building for this book was wonderfully done. Dustwalk, the place where Amani grew up, is dull and lifeless to her; there is very little food or supplies and the only excess people have are guns. The places Amani and Jin see as they travel through the desert, and even Jin’s descriptions of the city he grew up in, are richly detailed. We see the world through Amani’s eyes; in Dustwalk we see her desire for more, to escape, but when she thinks of Izman we see the beauty of the city through her thoughts.
What I loved the most about the world-building of this book was the mythology and fantasy. The stories Amani and Jin share of the Djinn and the mortal women who ensnare them, of the Nightmares and the Goblins who hunt in the darkness. The history behind their world and the magical creatures they see as the norm is richly detailed and wonderfully described.
Rebel of the Sands was one of my most anticipated reads for this year, and I was beyond thrilled when I got an ARC of this book. Alwyn Hamilton did not disappoint. There were parts of this story, secrets that were revealed, that I did not see coming at all, but when I looked back everything added up and made sense in terms of the character development and the story.
What did you think of Rebel of the Sands? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.