Title: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Published: 8th March 2016
Summary: Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al’Hiza must call it ‘home’. Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories. Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run. But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion.
This book is set in the dead-end town of Dustwalk and follows Amani, a skilled sharpshooter who’s desperate to escape it. She’s tired of living a life where she’s feels alone and unfairly treated because of her gender.
Amani is a tough and sassy character and it was wonderful watching how she developed during this novel. At first, she’s headstrong and is willing to do anything to find freedom, prioritising her own survival self over that of her friends and family. However, as Amani learned more about the world she lives in, she begins to soften and reconsider her beliefs. She remains brave and smart but she’s more considerate of others.
Jin, the foreigner who assists Amani’s escape, is similarly skilled with a gun and the two end up crossing paths on various occasions. I enjoyed Amani and Jin’s friendship, they played off of each other well, making their scenes together my favourite to read.
“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.”
The biggest strength of this story is the setting, which mixes western cowboy elements with middle eastern inspired desert locations. I love how vividly Alwyn Hamilton painted the picture of Amani’s adventure. It’s astonishing how real everything felt. But, even though the locations were beautiful, the rest of the world-building was lacking. I felt the history and mythology surrounding this story could’ve been expanded and better woven into the plot. At times, the cultural tales that were explored became confusing, with so many different characters and pasts being introduced.
I loved that this story was fast-paced with a combination of great action and magical elements. There was plenty going on to keep my attention. I can’t believe this is Alwyn’s debut release, as it was such an enjoyable book. This book is the first in a trilogy so there’s plenty of time for the characters and the world to be developed further.
Overall, I really liked this novel. There are some aspects concerning the world that could’ve been flesh out but the setting itself and the characters were fantastic.