Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adults
Rebel of the Sands, Book # 1
Viking Books for Young Readers
March 8th 2016
July 24, 2019 July 27, 2019
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.
About the book
Rebel of the Sands is the first volume of a trilogy of fantasy books, set in a fantastic Middle Eastern world. We follow the adventures of the protagonist, Amani, who, to escape from her small town and from the archaic traditions, dresses up as a boy and tries to make money by shooting at bottles in a hideout for gunslingers. Amani has particular characteristics, beautiful blue eyes that distinguish her from the other people of her village. She is also an excellent shooter and thanks to this ability she manages to survive in the desert. At the lair she meets Jin, a mysterious stranger wanted by the sultan’s army.
There are modern aspects in the book, like the presence of guns and trains and I don’t usually like modernity in a fantasy. But not here. It all makes sense and although I like fantasies where people fight with swords, I had no problems with this story.
I really liked the setting, the Middle Eastern vibes, but above all the world created by the author. A desert that mixes with magic, bullets that mix with shape-shifting and the legends narrated are very interesting. Also some stories written for this world, seem a bit like Christian stories, so I found aspects that I already know in these legends.
I liked the characters, both Amani, the protagonist, and Jin, but also Ahmed the Rebel Prince. Amani is a young girl who has dreams and expectations from life that go beyond the country she lives in. He wants to run away because she is almost forced to marry his uncle who already has several wives. Amani’s mother was killed and so was her father and because she’s alone, she goes to live with her aunt, her mother’s sister, with her uncle and her various wives and cousins. Here she cannot stay and taking advantage of a diversion created by Jin, the foreigner who came to her country, manages to escape. She wants to go to the capital of the kingdom where another of his mother’s sisters lives and hopes she can find the inner peace she has always been looking for.
Jin is a man wanted by the Sultan’s army and only after half of the book we find out why. I had already understood this, but the book has not lost my attention. I like him too, the mystery behind his appearance and what he does intrigued me a lot.
Ahmed as said is the rebel prince and immediately from the first pages or chapters we find out why he is called like that. I like the relationship he has with his “people” and the ideals he has of wanting to improve everyone’s life regardless of who he is.
I like the magical world behind. I like that there are humans who are not really human, but who have these powers and who have their “kryptonite”.
I like the author’s style, I like the alternation she uses of the present with Amani’s story and the legends or past events. I can’t say anything more because I read a translation so I don’t know what kind of English she used and I hope to find the same approach in the following books. Furthermore, the story is told in the first person by Amani herself, which I find different from the usual.
I borrowed this book from my library (first time I set foot in the library in 30 years I think) and I immediately run to take the second one, even if the book doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, but it can be considered finished. Obviously there are some questions that need to be answered and the end promises a follow-up, but the book can be read even if the second volume is not available immediately.
And guys, how can you not love the cover? In my opinion it is a work of art (but the other two are even more so).
I don’t understand a small thing. Why the Italian edition was published before the English version? O_o. This seems strange to me… At least from the publication dates I found.