Book Review: REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands.png
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating:
Series: Yes - first book of trilogy



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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I adore the voice in this book. It’s the stand-out part of this book, hooking me right from the first page. Amani’s vivid narration really builds her smart (and not-so-smart) talking, somewhat self-deprecating character. She’s got a lot to play for, not much to lose and one finger always on the trigger. For example, these are the first lines:

They said the only folk who belonged in Deadshot after dark were the ones up to no good. I wasn’t up to no good. Then again, I wasn’t exactly up to no bad, neither.

When I first read this book, three years ago, these lines snared me into the world – and they still have the same impact today. From there, the pacing is spectacular. The jump-cut chapter breaks are easy to follow but remove the unnecessary getting from a-to-b without losing clarity.

Other than Amani, the next most important character is Jin – a roguish rebel. I love the energy his has, a quick smile and quicker retort. He and Amani have amazing banter, and even better chemistry.

I love how the magic and technology are married in REBEL OF THE SANDS. There are guns and trains alongside shapeshifters and illusionists. The world feels like a balancing act between these two ideals. The tension between myths and reality, past and future, is shown best through the different countries’ approach the magic.

It’s quite a short read, with reasonably large print (I’ve been finding more and more books need a microscope to see the text!). I breezed through this book on the back of a buraqi ready to dive headlong into the sequel, TRAITOR TO THE THRONE.

Read my reviews of other books by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands (this series):


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