Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: Allen & Unwin
"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."Review by Nara
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.
Well, I can definitely say that Rebel of the Sands is the best Western/Arabian/High Fantasy fusion novel I've ever read. That being said, it may be the only Western/Arabian/High Fantasy fusion I've ever read. In any case, this debut from Alwyn Hamilton is impressive in its ambition and its originality.
First off, I have to mention the world building, which was quite fantastic. The book is set in this fantasy world which clearly has Arabian/Middle-Eastern influences with its desert setting and djinnis and harems. But it also has elements of Westerns, with pistol shooting/cowboy style scenes being featured too. There are all sorts of interesting magical creatures in the world, and the magic system was also rather interesting- which I won't go into since spoilers.
Main character Amani is seriously awesome. She's so likeable, and that means that any aspect of the book to do with her was automatically made better- including the main plot, the romance and her interactions with basically any of the other characters. Her snarky attitude and badass gunmanship help her fit in with the brutal desert world she's grown up in. The novel is first person, and Amani's voice is incredibly distinct- the rough tone/accent definitely aided and enhanced the world building.
I don't really want to say too much about the plot of the novel here, but I can definitely say it was my favourite aspect of the novel apart from the actual writing itself. The romance was slow burn and adorable. There were a few reveals that took a slight twist away from what I was expecting.
Rebel of the Sands has definitely put Alwyn Hamilton on my list of authors to look out for. If her debut is this impressive, I can only imagine and look forward to what else she has to offer.
World Building: 4/5