Rebels of the Sands

Rebels of the Sands, #1


Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female. 

Amani Al’Hiza is all three.  She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn't let weakness live.”

Rebel of the Sands is - as many reviewers state - a blend of Arabian Nights and classic western. Armani is a girl advanced for her times - toughened by the grueling and cruel life in the desert, determined to live as a boy when it suits her in the shooting pits or as an escape tactic - dedicated to escaping even more than she is trying to survive. Enter Jin, the non-classic saviour who has been banded a traitor, but the unlikely ally may be her only chance to actually flee the ruined town to a better place. The sands are always greener on the other side, or so she hopes.

Character-wise, Armani is intriguing because she's tough and bold, she's strong and wily. On the other hand she's also a bit unsympathetic as her circumstances have stripped away most of her compassion. A lot of other reviewers seemed to love her, but to me she's just a passable lead. Jin is fun at times but not much stands out to be - he doesn't have a strong humor or flair, but he does have a loyalty he battles with.

The story is unique in that they are in a horrible situation and battling armies who wish to overtake and destroy so they can build their own marks. Legends mixes with present story through tales told around fires, and the way of the desert and the magic lives on. Hamilton writes well, sometimes diving into almost poetic territory, but mainly keeping it short and to the point with blunt sharpness. The writing works to make the story flow quickly, although there are some parts of the story that left me confused and a few that I didn't care about much.

The best part was the last half where they meet up with a varied group, Armani learns something new about herself (and it turns out to be epic), and they join for one fierce and final battle. Overall a good book but I didn't love it - the story lost me much of the time because I didn't have interest in the overall theme, but I did dig the supernatural touches that were unique to the world-building.

   Book Quotes:

“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” 
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