Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber
UK Release Date: 4th February 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
“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.
One of the things I vividly remember about YALC 2015 was meeting an agent, Molly Ker Hawn, in the queue for a promotional thing (I think it was fortune telling to promote The Accident Season!), and her telling my sister and I that this book was going to be one of the biggest books of 2016. Judging from the response I’ve seen to it across the blogging world – and from the book itself – she was definitely right.
I loved exploring the fantasy genre through the world of the Rebel of the Sands. I don’t read masses of fantasy, as sometimes I find the world-building too complicated, or I feel as if it detracts from the book as there’s just too much info-dumping on the reader. Alwyn Hamilton wove the creatures and the stories and the fantastic new places into the story, which meant as you went along you gradually learnt more about the incredible world she had created, but the information felt as if it was being shown, not told. In my opinion, this really makes Rebel of the Sands stand out to me as a fantasy book.
The way Alwyn Hamilton wrote was also incredible. Her descriptions painted a beautiful picture of the desert, the action, and the characters. In particular I loved the description of the oasis, as it was so vivid you could really get a sense of the location, but it wasn’t over the top either. The language that Hamilton used also kept things tense, as it intensified the situations, and made the pressure of tricky events increase as you wondered how they would make it out.
I loved the characters in Rebel of the Sands as well. Amani is described as “more gunpowder than girl”, and I think this summed her up perfectly! I loved how she was plucky and witty, but flawed as well – she was a bit too quick with her words for her own good. Jin was entertaining, and the chemistry and wordplay between him and Amani kept me constantly entertained and eager to know more, as I really want to see how things will develop between them. In general, I thought all the characters were strong and well-characterised, and their personalities were very distinct from each other. My favourite (other than Amani, who I think is an obvious character to love) was Bahi, as pretty much everything he did and said made me smile.
I would absolutely recommend this book to people, regardless of whether or not they are a fantasy fan. It has incredible world-building, compelling characters, and a plot I can’t wait to read more of in the sequel, Traitor to the Throne. This thrilling and action-packed book is definitely something to read right away!