Rebel of the Sands has one of the best opening chapters I’ve read in a long time!
We start by finding Amani Al’Hiza disguised as a boy about to take part in a gun shooting competition. To escape her dead-end town of Dustwalk and her repulsive uncle (who wants to marry her), she needs to win the competition to have enough money to finally flee to Izman. At the competition she meets Jin, the mysterious foreigner, and Amani soon finds herself as part of the uprising against the Sultan and his destructive forces.
I loved this! It was so refreshing to read a fantasy book that wasn’t set in an England-type environment; this was pure Middle Eastern desert with djinnis and mythical sand horses, but also had somewhat of a cowboy western vibe going on. Hell yes.
Amani carried the story wonderfully. She was sassy and strong but also incredibly naive about the world outside of her small town. Discovering the outside world alongside her was such an exciting experience. We see desert battles, gun slinging competitions, mythical sand horses, a train heist, I could go on, but I won’t because you all should read the book.
Now, why did I give this four out of five rather than the full five? I found many of the supporting characters, who we meet past the halfway point, to be a bit flat, not quite as fleshed out as they could have been. Especially Ahmed, who should have been way more memorable. However, as this is the first book in the series so I’m banking on the fact that these characters will shine in the future novels.
Rebel of the Sands is Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel, which is absolutely ridiculous considering how well written and well paced it is. You can tell she’s a natural storyteller, and I am SO excited to see what else she gives us.
Let’s also take a moment to admire the gorgeous cover our eyes are thanking us for.