Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)
A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…Empire of Sand is a lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn.

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) Details

TitleEmpire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 13th, 2018
PublisherOrbit
Rating
GenreFantasy, Adult, Fiction

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) Review

  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    NOW AVAILABLE!!!!this is one of those “shrug - not for me” books.which i suspected going into it. as much as we are cautioned against judging books by their covers, the whole reason covers exist* is in order to attract the desired audience, and in general, i am neither the audience desired by fantasy authors nor the audience attracted by the “weapon floating on textured background” cover trend. but i’m nothing if not complaisant, so i agreed to give it a go. sometimes i surprise myself - i liked NOW AVAILABLE!!!!this is one of those “shrug - not for me” books.which i suspected going into it. as much as we are cautioned against judging books by their covers, the whole reason covers exist* is in order to attract the desired audience, and in general, i am neither the audience desired by fantasy authors nor the audience attracted by the “weapon floating on textured background” cover trend. but i’m nothing if not complaisant, so i agreed to give it a go. sometimes i surprise myself - i liked the “weapon floating on textured background” Graceling, after all, and i thought Empire of Sand's south asian setting might be novel enough to conquer my historically lukewarm response to high fantasy. the setting does add a lot of appeal - the arid heat, the shifting sands, the miles of desert to cross, the descriptive backdrops for both the nomadic and the palatial lifestyles, and the daivas; the shadowy supernatural creatures who can only be kept in check by the blood of an amrithi.see, and this is why i hate reviewing fantasy books, because now i gotta define all these terms, and lay out an entire world’s innerworkings in order to even mention any of the book’s central conflicts and it doesn’t take long before that turns into a quagmire of boring for you and me both. so i’m not gonna do it. this is going to be a superficial reader-response from a reader with no authoritative claims because this genre is not my wheelhouse. as a human reader of books, i have some general responses. you can choose to read 'em or you can find a review from someone with more cred. this is another book that puzzles me with “why aren’t you YA?” the age of the protagonist fits, the whole “one special girl with abilities to save the world” theme is a YA standard, and the trajectory of the romantic element is shaped for YA fans - big, messy, complicated, passionate. it’s a crossover book that to me seems more YA than adult in all ways except for the pacing, which is much slower than YA. there’s a long, slow build in this one, stretches of space during which not very much happens, although when things do happen, they are significant punctuation marks. there's a lot of training, a lot of prep-time for the big thing, a lot of "getting to know you" time, while it seems like more interesting stuff is happening elsewhere. because although we do get brief chapters checking out the action away from mehr and her time among the maha and the mystics (yeah, i’m not slowing down to explain), i’m so much more intrigued by what’s going on in the farther reaches of the desert. quite simply, i just could not get into this one. and whether it was the genre or the book or some fundamental flaw in the reader NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW. i'm glad i read it, because i think it will be popular and successful and i'll need to know what all the cool kids are talking about, but i'm just cool in a different way.oh, but i did like the scene featuring the first appearance of a daiva and its truth about birds: ”It still looks like it wants to bite me,” Arwa said warily.”It’s a bird-spirit,” Mehr said. “That’s what birds do.”yeah. that is exactly what birds do. never trust them. * or, more precisely, the reason cover art exists. covers exist to hold the books together.come to my blog!
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  • James Lafayette Tivendale
    January 1, 1970
    I received an uncorrected proof copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tasha Suri and Orbit Books. In Empire of Sand, the original and excellent South Asian influenced fantasy debut of Tasha Suri's we follow the action of Mehr who is an illegitimate but highborn daughter of a governor of the Ambham Empire. It begins when a Daiva which is sort of a winged and taloned spirit invades the castle and infiltrates Mehr's younger sister's room, who is terrified as a young child would be. Me I received an uncorrected proof copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tasha Suri and Orbit Books. In Empire of Sand, the original and excellent South Asian influenced fantasy debut of Tasha Suri's we follow the action of Mehr who is an illegitimate but highborn daughter of a governor of the Ambham Empire. It begins when a Daiva which is sort of a winged and taloned spirit invades the castle and infiltrates Mehr's younger sister's room, who is terrified as a young child would be. Mehr has dealt with these beings before and knows that an offer of blood will guarantee them peace well, at least for a limited amount of time. Mehr's mother's clan were outcasts who worshipped the spirits of the sands and some have a form of magic beneath their skin. As the cover says: 'Magic is in her blood.' The Daiva, ancient Daiva and worse creatures known as nightmares are currently behind the veil of reality but when the frequent storms arrive the otherworldly beings come with it. Unfortunately for Mehr, who can perform magical dances and rites during the tempest, the Emperor's feared mystics are searching for anyone who can wield magic for reasons unbeknown to most but these shamans are normally taken away never to be seen again.We mainly follow Mehr's third person point of view perspective although there are three other interludes that are presented from another two views that bridge small gaps within the progression of the narrative. When I first picked up this book I believed it was going to be of a YA nature as it is likened to Trudi Canavan and Sarah J. Mass on the back. It has aspects that fans of these authors stories will like however I personally believe it has more in common with Melissa Caruso's Swords and Fire trilogy (for the magic, interesting 'love' relationships, and political drama) intertwined with the oriental focused fantasy awesomeness recently presented by Fonda Lee and RF Kuang. Mehr is a character that is well worth rooting for. She goes through so much and her character adapts to her often dire scenarios almost perfectly. It is an amazing journey that she goes through that was full of intrigue and emotion. The narrative I analysed as being split into three sections. The very exciting and engrossing introduction that gripped me from the very start. Especially with the fluent and poetic world building from the beginning discussing the environment, magic, cultures and past histories. There is a twist and then the second section happens and although it's not set in a magic school these segments do have elements in common with those sort of stories. As mentioned, the world building, poetic language, and character interactions are well developed. Unfortunately, the middle section was not as enticing as the other aspects of the book although Mehr's relationship with a certain character was interesting to see how it progressed. I think Suri perhaps went into too much detail here about certain aspects I just didn't find involving, rewarding or that interesting. It was a bit bloated but I must compliment that throughout the tale as a whole that the prose is generally intoxicating massaging finer details, pictures, colours and poetry into the reader's mind. I won't discuss too much about the final third apart from that the conclusion was highly satisfying and fulfilling. Only one section towards the end seemed far to improbable and convenient even though it did make me happy that it happened. This is a complete standalone where all the arcs are 'put to bed' nicely, however, Suri is looking to write further works in this environment and I am unaware if they will incorporate the same characters. I will discuss two other aspects quickly. Romance: I do not normally enjoy romance in the stories I read however, I think Suri worked this element into her tale expertly. This is quite a dark tale and I dislike getting thrown out of the darkness to a forced love story. The relationship here felt organic and like it really worked and not only suited the story but made it excel. Good work.Finally, characters: Apart from the cultures and the magic, the colourful ensemble is my favourite element. I will not discuss them too much but look out for Mehr's step-mother (think how Catelyn Stark treats Jon Snow), the vindictive and crazy God-like Maha and the mysterious vow-bound shaman Asum. Empire of Sand is an exciting, refreshing and dark fantasy debut featuring intricate and intriguing magic. The romantic elements are very well worked as is the unpredictable plot. It stutters slightly in the middle but that doesn't detract from how I greatly enjoyed this. Highly recommended.
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  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    Mehr lives in a world where she is only half accepted. The Ambhan people have conquered and destroyed the Amrithi, and as a woman with parents from both worlds, she struggles to find her place as a worshipper of the old Amrithi gods and traditions. When the Emperor’s mystics take note of her Amrithi powers, they force her into a marriage with one of their own, and Mehr becomes a very important pawn in a deadly game of men, gods, and demons. When I heard “Indian-inspired adult fantasy”, I was im Mehr lives in a world where she is only half accepted. The Ambhan people have conquered and destroyed the Amrithi, and as a woman with parents from both worlds, she struggles to find her place as a worshipper of the old Amrithi gods and traditions. When the Emperor’s mystics take note of her Amrithi powers, they force her into a marriage with one of their own, and Mehr becomes a very important pawn in a deadly game of men, gods, and demons. When I heard “Indian-inspired adult fantasy”, I was immediately intrigued; when I heard “angry, vengeful gods”, I was sold. Empire of Sands has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I feel like there isn’t a lot of own-voice diverse fantasy in the adult age range, so to see a story so interwoven with the author’s own heritage and experiences as a woman of color, coupled with the inspirations she took from actual history, made this an incredibly fascinating read. → L I K E S : She’d always understood that keeping even the barest bones of her heritage demanded a terrible price. But she had kept her heritage regardless. That was her gravest error. Right from the start, I loved the world Tasha Suri has built here. It’s always tough to read stories about conquered nations, knowing what an anchor those themes have in the real world, but Suri goes above and beyond many authors I’ve read tackling similar plots by showing me how awful the Maha and Emperor are and how drastic their crimes against the Amrithi people have been. It’s also incredible to see how strongly Mehr’s Amrithi traditions resonate with her on a daily basis, and how much comfort she takes from her rituals and ancestry. He had never hated her mother’s people. He had just never considered them people at all. They were the kindling wood that fed the fire of the Empire’s strength. I also absolutely loved the daiva, these demon-esque spirits that appear in birdlike forms. There’s an imminent threat present in them from the beginning, but something about their design and the way they interact with Mehr hooked me right away and had me wishing to see even more of them in the story. Mehr knew what it looked like, when another human being stared at her with hatred. What she had seen in Amun’s face was a knife turned inward. Finally, there’s the relationship. In the beginning of the story, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I ended up rooting for Mehr and her love interest so quickly and absolutely swooning over their fleeting, quiet moments by the end. I also can’t help but feel like there’s some very valuable commentary in the story regarding arranged marriages and how they’re not always what western society views them as. → D I S L I K E S : How strange, that the world still looked so normal when Mehr’s world was collapsing around her. There’s only one thing I had an issue with, but unfortunately, it was actually a really big struggle I faced while reading Empire of Sand: the pacing. Take this with the knowledge that I love slow fantasy stories, but something about the slow pacing of this book just does not work for me. It felt too tame and like nothing important was happening most of the time; when something important did happen, it was over-explained to the point of losing its power. “A choice like a knife at your throat is an illusion.” Even though the writing itself was beautiful, I think it could have been improved by being a solid 75-100 pages shorter. I know that’s a harsh axe to drop, but this book actually put me into the worst slump I’ve had all year (with it now being November). I had to put it down for a week to get over the slump, but when I picked it back up to finish it, it almost put me into another slump! This never happens to me, so despite how gorgeous the plot and characters and setting were, I have to knock off a full star for how slow and meandering it was. → F I N A L THOUGHTS : Altogether, I really enjoyed Empire of Sand, despite struggling with the pacing. It’s got this incredibly immersive desert setting, these lovable characters, and a backstory that drew me in and didn’t let go. I only wish that I could have enjoyed it more despite the slowness, but I would definitely be happy to try Tasha Suri’s next release, as I think she displays tremendous potential. → RECOMMENDING TO… : If you’re someone who also loves slow fantasy—especially if you’re even more patient than I typically am—then I don’t think it will be an issue, but if you’re not one who can handle slow-burning fantasy plots, you may want to try this in audiobook format so you can tune out a little when the tedium kicks in.All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Orbit for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    It has been a while since I have seen such elegant writing. Tasha Suri’s words are like balm to the soul. They are calming. I devoured them. I couldn’t get enough of them. Until, of course, I could. Here’s the thing: this book starts off strong, very strong. We become acquainted with Mehr, the heroine, as well as her family and friends. Well, friend. She's not exactly popular. There is danger looming and the reader and characters are aware of it. It’s exciting. It made me turn the pages with muc It has been a while since I have seen such elegant writing. Tasha Suri’s words are like balm to the soul. They are calming. I devoured them. I couldn’t get enough of them. Until, of course, I could. Here’s the thing: this book starts off strong, very strong. We become acquainted with Mehr, the heroine, as well as her family and friends. Well, friend. She's not exactly popular. There is danger looming and the reader and characters are aware of it. It’s exciting. It made me turn the pages with much eagerness. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next and get to know Mehr even better.But then it all stopped. It’s a slow-paced story from the very beginning, but that didn’t bother me at all. I prefer a fantasy novel be slow-paced but well-written and interesting than to be all over the place and confusing.Nothing about this book is confusing. Everything is laid out on the table for us to see, to understand, and the little things that are kept from us are not shocking or surprising enough to be considered ‘‘revelations.’’That’s exactly the problem. This book is too… tame. I didn’t fall off my chair or open my mouth in wonder one time. It’s not that I predicted everything—it’s that so little happens over such a long period of time that when something does happen, it’s like, ‘‘FINALLY’’ instead of ‘‘OMG, NO WAY!’’But I did find interesting the characterizations, which are emphasized in this story, as well as the tensions between Mehr and the mystics. However, I missed a lot of the characters that were introduced in the beginning and then basically forgotten about—like Mehr’s sister, step-mother and father, as well as her friend Lalita. We rarely hear from them again, and while I understand why, it remains unfortunate. Perhaps more POVs would have helped make this story more exciting.So, to recap, this is beautifully-written and character-driven, but the story lethargic and rarely surprising.Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • Kayla
    January 1, 1970
    Read my full review on GracelingAccountant.Hey ya’ll!While requesting an Advanced Reader Copy of Sisters of the Winter Wood from Orbit recently, I was offered an ARC of Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and I jumped at the chance. I’m a sucker for a desert fantasy, and I knew I would love this one but I never expected just how much. This has come to be a new favorite book for me, and I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on this gem. Empire of Sand comes out on November 13th , and I highly re Read my full review on GracelingAccountant.Hey ya’ll!While requesting an Advanced Reader Copy of Sisters of the Winter Wood from Orbit recently, I was offered an ARC of Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and I jumped at the chance. I’m a sucker for a desert fantasy, and I knew I would love this one but I never expected just how much. This has come to be a new favorite book for me, and I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on this gem. Empire of Sand comes out on November 13th , and I highly recommend you head over to Goodreads and add this one to your TBR – this is not one you want to miss. Let’s get into my review. Thank you so much to Hachette Books for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review. Any quotes used from the Advanced Reader Copy are subject to change upon publication. Book Info__________________________________ Genre(s): Adult – Many different definitions are thrown around, but I define this as books that contain content not suitable for younger readers. This includes things like graphic content (blood, gore, torture, murder, rape), and explicit sexual content. Fantasy – “Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often without any locations, events, or people referencing the real world. Most fantasy uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting. Magic and magical creatures are common in many of these worlds.An identifying trait of fantasy is the author’s reliance on imagination to create narrative elements that do not have to rely on history or nature to be coherent. This differs from realistic fiction in that realistic fiction has to attend to the history and natural laws of reality, where fantasy does not. An author applies his or her imagination to come up with characters, plots, and settings that are impossible in reality.”Page Count: 419Release Year: 2018Buzz Words: Fantasy, Desert Fantasy, Own Voices, Daiva, Adult, Indian, Debut__________________________________This is everything I was looking for while reading Rebel of the Sands and An Ember In The Ashes. To me a perfect desert fantasy has culture, and back-story, and just a certain mystical feel to it and this book hit all those notes for me. The Good:*Everything. No really. The Daiva, the magic, the romantic subplot, the worldbuilding- everything was amazing.*Turned a forced marriage into something of love, respect, and consent and it honestly brought fucking tears to my eyes You can.She felt his faith. It coursed through her like dreamfire, like blood. Her own image wavered in front of her eyes – a woman with dark skin and dark eyes, a tangled mess of hair and the bearing of an empress. She saw the light of her own smile. The dimple etched in her cheek when she laughed. This was how Amun saw her.In his eyes, she was on the one who was strong, who stood straight and tall and never let the world crush her. In his eyes, she was the one who was kind and good. She wanted to laugh and weep at the same time. (245)*The main character loves herself despite the fact that the way she looks and the blood in her veins is what put her in this situation“And you, Mehr. Did you ever demand to be painted?”Mehr snorted. “Me? No. I wasn’t ready to wed, so I didn’t have anyone to impress. Besides, any painter given my description would still have insisted on making me moon pale with hair like a fall of silk.” She made a dismissive gesture. “I don’t need false flattery.”“They paint what they think you want to see,” Amun noted, with insightfulness that – again – struck Mehr. “They do,” Mehr agreed. “But they would be wrong about me. I like myself perfectly well as I am.” (179 – 180)*Correcting racism, specifically the "No, I didn't mean YOU" phrase.The MEH*The antagonist came across as very "generic bad guy" with not much backstory to justify his actions.*Two (almost 3) characters were unnecessarily bitchy with no justification*No map*Why is this marketed as adult when it's clearly young adultI can’t share much more of my thoughts without spoiling this book, but I’m telling you guys GO PICK THIS UP. If you can’t afford to buy it, check it out from the library. I know the struggle, I have to walk up to my library if I need to pick up books and it’s a 20 minute walk (now) in the snow. But DO IT ANYWAY. I promise it’s worth it. This was an incredible read, and I’m so appreciative to have received an ARC from Orbit for this own-voices debut._________________________________That was unique, and beautiful, and I fell in love with this book. Amazing culture, beautiful romance. Consent was shown in every aspect of their relationship and Amun is such a beautiful soul I tear up just thinking about it. There was nothing I didnt love about this story.
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  • Aila
    January 1, 1970
    EMPIRE OF SAND is the kind of book that you have to reread certain parts, or read more slowly, just so you can savor the words, story, and development. At least, that's what I did. Inspired by the Mughal era of India, EMPIRE OF SAND features a resilient heroine who struggles to survive in an empire where her people, the Amrithi, are despised. Throughout her journey, she finds hope and kindness and respect in the unlikeliest of places. Think of it as loosely beginning like THE WRATH AND THE DAWN EMPIRE OF SAND is the kind of book that you have to reread certain parts, or read more slowly, just so you can savor the words, story, and development. At least, that's what I did. Inspired by the Mughal era of India, EMPIRE OF SAND features a resilient heroine who struggles to survive in an empire where her people, the Amrithi, are despised. Throughout her journey, she finds hope and kindness and respect in the unlikeliest of places. Think of it as loosely beginning like THE WRATH AND THE DAWN with more mature characters, and the phenomenal world-building of CITY OF BRASS, with a heart-stopping romance like in A CROWN OF WISHES. Basically, a must-read for fantasy readers. Review to come!
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
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  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    Empire of Sand is a slow-paced desert fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the Mughal Empire.As I had never read a book inspired by this part of India's history, and as I usually love slow, atmospheric fantasy, I thought I would at least like Empire of Sand, but it just didn't work for me. After loving the first 20% of it, in which a magical world with an unique magic system inspired by Indian classical dance and complex history was introduced, I started liking this book less and less, becau Empire of Sand is a slow-paced desert fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the Mughal Empire.As I had never read a book inspired by this part of India's history, and as I usually love slow, atmospheric fantasy, I thought I would at least like Empire of Sand, but it just didn't work for me. After loving the first 20% of it, in which a magical world with an unique magic system inspired by Indian classical dance and complex history was introduced, I started liking this book less and less, because of the pacing.From around 25% of the book to at least 65%, the main character Mehr is trapped in an unwanted (at least at the beginning) arranged marriage, in a place in which she's forced to perform magical rituals that hurt her, and in which there's the constant threat that she will be forced to have sex with a person she doesn't want to have sex with. The situation doesn't change much, I found all of it very difficult to read, and then I couldn't anymore. Maybe it wouldn't have affected me so much had I not read Girls of Paper and Fire just a few days ago, another fantasy book (which I loved) in which the main character is constantly under the threat of sexual assault. I don't know, I think I need to step back from this kind of fantasy stories for a while.I put off DNFing this book and writing this review even though I knew for a few days that I wasn't going to continue - when you notice you'd rather do homework than read a book there's something wrong - because I really didn't want to write a bad review of this. I loved the beginning and the world is genuinely interesting. I also think that fantasy book that follow non-western history and that show women who are strong in a different way than the average fantasy are really important, but I just couldn't get through the middle of this.
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  • Sol ~ TheBookishKing
    January 1, 1970
    Buddy Read with Mels (who I'll link to later xD) I'm super excited for this and have a week to finish it so let's see if I can do it !! Still in that Kingdom of Ash slump and it's killing me.ARC received in Exchange for an Honest Review.
  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
     LOVED this and banged through it in just a few hours yesterday – an excellent and immediate piece of world building with some beautifully drawn characters and a wonderfully lilting prose that really immerses you deep into Mehr’s world of myth and magic.Using India’s history, epics and myths as inspiration (as per author interview included with the novel) Tasha Suri creates a beautiful, dangerous and fascinating empire and takes the reader with Mehr as she is bound by the magic in her blood and  LOVED this and banged through it in just a few hours yesterday – an excellent and immediate piece of world building with some beautifully drawn characters and a wonderfully lilting prose that really immerses you deep into Mehr’s world of myth and magic.Using India’s history, epics and myths as inspiration (as per author interview included with the novel) Tasha Suri creates a beautiful, dangerous and fascinating empire and takes the reader with Mehr as she is bound by the magic in her blood and enslaved by her roots. It is hugely engaging, cleverly plotted and goes down some dark paths, exploring many themes and social structures along the way.Empire of Sand is addictive, occasionally brutal, often really quite creepy – it is pure brilliance first page to last and I have no regrets at all that I pretty much lost a day to it.This is the kind of Fantasy I adore. Gorgeous writing, impressive description and a sense of reality running through the narrative despite the speculative setting. Pitch perfect. Can’t wait for more.Highly Recommended.
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  • The Nerd Book Review
    January 1, 1970
    I always say if I stay up late reading a book it’s a 5* and now I’ve done it 2 nights in a row with this one. I hope to do a review at some point in the not I distant future. The writing was elegant but not overdone and I immediately got into, and stayed in, that movie in my mind I drone on about so often. I’ve discovered I really want a tale where the writing doesn’t get in the way of telling the story and this achieves that wonderfully. This novel which is about 80% ish 1 POV of a girl named M I always say if I stay up late reading a book it’s a 5* and now I’ve done it 2 nights in a row with this one. I hope to do a review at some point in the not I distant future. The writing was elegant but not overdone and I immediately got into, and stayed in, that movie in my mind I drone on about so often. I’ve discovered I really want a tale where the writing doesn’t get in the way of telling the story and this achieves that wonderfully. This novel which is about 80% ish 1 POV of a girl named Mehr who is a sequestered noblewoman whose mother was from a nomadic clan, some of whom could perform magical rites. Mehr inherited this magical ability and was taken by the ancient emperor/high priest whose prayer keep the empire strong and his descendants on the throne. If this doesn’t sound interesting then I don’t know what will. The book is far more than that though. There isn’t actually a ton of action in the novel, it is mostly about inter and intra personal struggle. At the end I read that Suri credits Jacqueline Carey as an influence and while I didn’t necessarily see it before I read that I immediately saw a bit of that personal struggle that Carey’s Phedre de Delaunay often showed in the Kushiel’s Dart series that I really enjoyed, and really should re-read and review one of these days. The book felt surprisingly self contained so I’m interested to see where Suri takes the series with book 2. It could be a continuation of the events that transpire in book 1 or it could be descendants of some of these characters and it would fit either way. Great debut novel that has kept me up hours past my bedtime to finish. I would recommend this to a wide variety of fantasy and even some non fantasy readers.
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  • Esmerelda Weatherwax
    January 1, 1970
    I got this one from Orbit/Netgalley – thank you! I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it came on my radar a couple months ago.I didn’t know what to expect from this one, what I got was pretty awesome. This is a story of a girl who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, her mother’s race, the Amrithi, is one that has been increasingly looked down upon by the current ruling class. They are viewed as less than civilized, just some superstitious barbarians with a backward religion and culture. Mehr is I got this one from Orbit/Netgalley – thank you! I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it came on my radar a couple months ago.I didn’t know what to expect from this one, what I got was pretty awesome. This is a story of a girl who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, her mother’s race, the Amrithi, is one that has been increasingly looked down upon by the current ruling class. They are viewed as less than civilized, just some superstitious barbarians with a backward religion and culture. Mehr is an illegitimate daughter of the governor, and although she lives with the everyday comforts of the noble class, she’s harshly scrutinized by her stepmother, she’s forbidden to openly practice the customs of the Amrithi, and has very strict rules about visiting her sister Arwa. As Mehr has gotten older she’s tried to assert herself more against her stepmother’s needless nitpicking and harassment, but Mehr may have taken things a step too far.The emperor is re-doubling his efforts to relocate and push out all people of Amrithi heritage. The fact that Mehr has rebelled and tried to teach her sister of the Amrithi’s religion and teachings, and said so in public, could cause her family to come under scrutiny they can’t afford.The Amrithi are said to be the descendants of the daiva, who were the children of the Gods. Long ago the daiva and the Amrithi intermingled, inter-marrying and forever leaving their trace in the blood of the Amrithi. Since then there was a vow made by the daiva to protect the Amrathi people and to this day, if a daiva shows up, all an Amrithi person needs to do is offer it some blood and the daiva will recognize it’s vow and leave that person in peace.The opening scene in this book involves a daiva that came to visit Mehr’s younger sister, it was just a bird-spirit, but Mehr believes it means a “storm” is coming, a storm that brings dreamfire and daiva, a storm that could possibly be dangerous to those who aren’t Amrithi. She was right, a storm did come, and Mehr went out into the middle of it and called upon the storm to help her find her friend who had gone missing. The storm carries her along to Lalita’s house, but she’s not there. That bit of magic she performed caught the attention of the Maha, a god like being who rules the religious order of this realm. He heard her whispering in the storm and has made a drastic move – he’s sent his priests to her city to offer a hand in marriage. Women in this society aren’t treated like equals, they can’t make contracts, they aren’t typically involved in political affairs, and are treated like “treatures” to be “protected”. However, the one right they do have is their sacred right to choose who they marry. This marriage proposal is obviously not truly an offer, it’s an offer she can’t refuse without her family facing serious and probably lethal consequences.Her father does love her, and he never meant for anything like this to happen. He offers her an out, he arranges for a carriage to steal her away in the middle of the night. But, Mehr refuses it, she doesn’t believe she could live with the guilt if anything happened to her family. Her father practically begs her to leave, he hints that the priests of Maha are evil, and that she can’t know true evil the way he does. Despite this, she says she has made her choice, and goes to meet her new husband. He’s creepy. He’s so very creepy, I’ve never been wrapped up in a marriage/courting scene before. He’s monotone, dressed in robes, scarred all over, and seems to be devoid of a soul.There was so much world building in this, it was just fantastic. I loved everything from the different types of daiva, the different ‘dances’ that the Amrithi performs for things like sunrises and sunsets. There are a wide variety of Rites that the Amrithi have, like the Rite of Dreaming, all associated with moving through forms in a dance. I felt relaxed whil reading to be honest. A nonwestern setting is always a plus for me, I don’t often get to read books that are based in desert-like climates.I liked how I got a good 10% into the book before the POV switched, I felt like I really got to sink my teeth into who she was and why I should care about her storyline before I got introduced to the second POV. It also helped that I already knew the second POV when we started her chapters, the pacing really flowed well.Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was well written, the characters felt real and well developed which had me turning pages all night to see how everything turned out. I love getting older female POVs, I love nonwestern settings, I love relatable characters – loved this!Audience:Daiva’smulti povfemale povmiddle age povnon western settingsrace being eliminatedRatings:Plot: 12/15Characters: 12.5/15World Building: 13/15Writing: 13/15Pacing: 12/15Originality: 13/15Personal Enjoyment: 9/10Final Score: 84.5/100 – 4.5/5 stars – highly recommended!
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/11/11/...In the lusciously written Empire of Sand, debut author Tasha Suri takes readers on a journey to a south Asian-inspired fantasy world full of mysterious magic and spirits. A strong and alluring intro eventually gave way to a rather mild and slow-moving plot which is why I am only tentatively embracing this book with a middling rating, and because I didn’t find my attention hooked completely since the plodding pace made some 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/11/11/...In the lusciously written Empire of Sand, debut author Tasha Suri takes readers on a journey to a south Asian-inspired fantasy world full of mysterious magic and spirits. A strong and alluring intro eventually gave way to a rather mild and slow-moving plot which is why I am only tentatively embracing this book with a middling rating, and because I didn’t find my attention hooked completely since the plodding pace made some parts of this a struggle to read.In the beginning, we are introduced to Mehr, the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor of Ambha and an exiled Amrithi mother she barely knows. However, it is said that the Amrithi are a group of desert nomads descended from spirits, possessing the power of magic in their blood—a power that Mehr has inherited. Growing up in her father’s noble house, she clashed constantly with her stepmother, both of them vying for the responsibility over caring for Mehr’s little sister Arwa. Then one night, a winged demon called a Daiva invades Arwa’s room, and in her attempts to calm her younger sibling, Mehr is caught performing a forbidden rite bringing her magical lineage to the attention of the imperial mystics.From that moment on, Mehr’s life is changed forever. She is subsequently forced into an arranged marriage to Amun, an Amrithi enslaved to the empire. Scorned by the other mystics, Mehr’s betrothed is nonetheless required for his role in a ritual which would solidify Ambha’s power and expand its borders. Since the rites can only be successfully performed by an Amrithi couple, Amun and Mehr’s fates were all but sealed, but working together with their wits and powers, they may yet find other ways to resist the empire and its cruel mystics, especially as their feelings towards one another deepen.The first few chapters immediately drew me in. I loved Suri’s descriptive writing, and the characters and their dialogue attracted me with their charisma and emotions. The supernatural elements were introduced lightly, adding a bit of intrigue to the plot rather than overpowering it completely with talk of Daeva, spirits, or magic. The world-building is scrumptious, teasing, and mysterious—an uncertain quality at first, but you just know it will eventually take shape and grow into something more. And when Mehr’s magic was found out, the atmosphere felt as though the story itself was holding its breath, waiting to see what would happen next.Sad to say though, that was perhaps the highest point of the book for me, at least for the next little while. What came next was about a couple hundred pages of very little action, but lots of observations by the protagonist as well as relationship building between Mehr and Amun. Speaking as someone who did not really expect this shift, the middle section of novel proved a bit tedious and a challenge to press through. However, for readers who prefer more calm “quiet” fantasy, especially those who like slow-burn romances, the style and tone of this book would probably be more to your liking.The good news is, the characters are lovely. As the daughter of Ambhan nobleman and an Amrithi outcast, Mehr is an interesting figure struggling with her two conflicting backgrounds. She isn’t always bold or quick to take action, but she is more of a rational thinker and I appreciated the author for giving her protagonist a more level-headed personality. Mehr has found herself in a bad situation and while the odds may seem hopeless at times, she never lets them wear her down. She also has some compelling chemistry with Amun; it’s not really a fiery hot passion between them, but a softer more careful kind of love that grows sweeter over time. I can be quite picky when it comes to romance arcs and it’s not often they work for me, but I thought given how Mehr and Amun began, Suri handled the course of their relationship perfectly.Ultimately, Empire of Sand could have been a more enticing read, but the slow-moving sections in the middle of the book really hurt my overall enjoyment. That said though, there are a lot of things going for it, and I will head into the sequel with hopes that the story will pick up in pacing and action.
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  • Adah Udechukwu
    January 1, 1970
    Empire of Sand started slow, it started really slow. The novel was slow throughout. Empire of Sand is devoid of action and I love a lot of action .I tried to love the novel but I couldn't.Empire of Sand is meant to be a standalone novel.Why the author made it a series eludes me.
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  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    November 30, most likely
  • Minx -The Genre Minx Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    True Rating 4.5 stars!There is a blurb that states that fans of The City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn will enjoy reading Empire of Sand and I have to 100% agree. I will also say that although this story is advertised as an adult fantasy it has a YA feel to it, if I had to categorize it I would call it a new adult fantasy. I was intrigued from the start with the introduction of Mehr and her life as an illegitimate daughter of the Governor of Irinah, who also happened to be half Amrithi, True Rating 4.5 stars!There is a blurb that states that fans of The City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn will enjoy reading Empire of Sand and I have to 100% agree. I will also say that although this story is advertised as an adult fantasy it has a YA feel to it, if I had to categorize it I would call it a new adult fantasy. I was intrigued from the start with the introduction of Mehr and her life as an illegitimate daughter of the Governor of Irinah, who also happened to be half Amrithi, a race of people that were detested by all. Mehr’s father loved her, sheltered her, and accepted her but he was still a cog in the Empire’s wheel. I was not the biggest fan of the family/political drama that took place but it was great for understanding Mehr’s character and the plight of the Amirithi people.I was a huge fan of the world that was developed in this book as well as the cultures that inhabited it. I also adored that there was a striking magical component that set the races apart from each other. I was hooked from the introduction of this story and it was very fast paced until about a third of the way in. From that point the story slowed down and it was mainly about relationship building with Mehr and others that she found herself with. That part was important to the story but it did not have the same zip that the first third did but luckily the story picked up after two-thirds of the book and at that point I was fully invested in the outcome!There was a romance element to this story but it was a natural development and at first I was resistant to the idea but my, oh my, was I won over! There is much love in this story but it is not as you would expect it. Serious heart swoons!! I completely enjoyed my reading of this story and the characters were a huge part of my enjoyment. They were dynamic and even though I did not like some of the characters it was because they were so well developed that my dislike was from an emotional level. I had many feelings during my reading of Empire of Sand it has left a lasting impact me. I am looking forward to its companion piece and hope that many of the characters from this story show up. 😉This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.Find this review and more at The Genre Minx Book Reviews
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    What's better than the words 'dreams of sleeping gods' Also, so here for the Mughal-Indian history as an inspiration for this
  • Mike Everest Evans
    January 1, 1970
    The Good: Empire of Sand delivers exactly what it says on the tin and THEN SOME! Strong female lead (check), magic by birth but you know there’s more to it than that (check), empires and gods (check), non-western fantasy (in this case inspired by India’s Mughal empire) (BIG CHECK). The Bad: The pace seemed to ease up a little toward the middle of the book, at least in terms of overall plot, and I’d have liked to see more of the ‘stakes’ at this point (more sleeping gods, please!) but I wouldn’t The Good: Empire of Sand delivers exactly what it says on the tin and THEN SOME! Strong female lead (check), magic by birth but you know there’s more to it than that (check), empires and gods (check), non-western fantasy (in this case inspired by India’s Mughal empire) (BIG CHECK). The Bad: The pace seemed to ease up a little toward the middle of the book, at least in terms of overall plot, and I’d have liked to see more of the ‘stakes’ at this point (more sleeping gods, please!) but I wouldn’t let these minor points overshadow what is one of the most exciting releases of the year.The Ugly Truth: Now THIS is the fantasy I’ve been after without even knowing it: sleeping gods, daiva and a desert landscape that’s not just ‘sand-sand-sand’, myth and magic that’s so fully-realised that it’s real and a magic system based on dance and the dreams of the gods. Say it with me now: not-just-another-white-medieval-fantasy.Review: Did I really just say that (above)? ‘One of the most exciting releases of the year.’ REALLY? I try not to use clichés where possible, but, in this instance, it’s true.Actually, no.It’s not.This isn’t one of the most exciting releases of the year. This is one of the most exciting releases of the past five if not ten years for me. Sure, anyone in the fantasy community will have heard the call for more diverse fantasy voices and stories, and there have been many (but not enough! MORE PLEASE) to answer this call, but I have yet to come across ANYTHING like Empire of Sand.Why? Well, let me tell you about Empire of Sand and then I’ll explain.In Empire of Sands, Mehr, is a half-Ambhan half-Amrithi daughter to an Ambhan governor. Her Amrithi heritage, and the power in her blood because of it, earns her the attention of the Mystics, agents of the Maha, a high-priest like figure of the Ambhan Empire, who manipulate traditions and treaties to trap Mehr in an arranged marriage with seemingly no escape. Bound to a seeming barbarian of a husband whose physical scars hide those beneath, Mehr is shackled to the Maha’s service through her vows, and forced to wield the power of sleeping gods’ dreams (manifested as storms) at the heart of the desert.So why have I yet to come across anything like EoS?Mehr is the headstrong and hearty heroine I’ve always longed for. She’s not perfect – no-one truly is – but she is perfect in her own imperfect way. Most importantly, she’s believable. Here we have a young woman taken from all she knows, and thrust into the clutches of a cult-like coven whose leader is awesome as he is atrocious. Her thoughts, instincts, emotions, all of it is believable. It’s reasonable. Rational. And though I hope no-one can relate to the scenario thrust upon Mehr, dare I say it, she is relatable for the very fact that she is presented as human. And sure, to be human is to be flawed, but it is also to be resilient. To think, feel and ultimately overcome the challenges we face, no matter how big or small they might be.Secondly – world building. Excuse the sound of clapping as I’m still giving Suri the standing ovation she deserves. NOT-JUST-ANOTHER-WHITE-FANTASY. There are so many things I could go on about here, but I’d like to highlight the fact that this book is almost entirely set in ‘the desert’ (or locations within one) and not once does it feel like ‘just a lot of sand’. I’ve been to deserts. Not all of it is sand. And even when it is, it isn’t ‘just sand’. There are shapes, dunes, stretches to the horizon, beyond and back. The desert is a beautiful place. It’s a dangerous place. And the Empire of Sand captures those facts wonderfully.Also on the world building point: sleeping gods whose dreams hold the power to change the world? A dance-based magic system to shape those dreams, for ill or good will? A power-hungry puppet-master of a patriarch who reigns through love and loathing? What more could you ask for?Which leads me nicely onto the plot and the story itself. Conscious that I’ve already covered a lot of ground, and not to spoil anything, there’s elements of ‘a chosen one’ and ‘magic school’ here, similar to R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War, minus the fighting and more grimdark tones. And not forgetting the ‘romance’ element of the plot. Now, I can almost hear the collective eyeroll of a chunk of the fantasy reader community, those who ‘don’t like romance as part of the plot’. But listen up – this isn’t just well written romance, it’s real. The relationship(s) in Empire of Sand are plausible and they most certainly have a purpose. I could liken Empire of Sand’s romance to dozens of other books (elsewhere I’ve seen Melissa Caruso’s Words and Fire trilogy mentioned, as well as the works of Sarah J Mass and Trudi Canavan on the back of the book itself), but I don’t really see the point here. Speaking generally, though I hope not out of turn, ‘Twilight’ seems to be the claymore-explosive that anti-romance fantasy readers point at anything attempting a relationship beyond a ‘grimdark grunt’ of a one-night stand. Feelings? BANG! Sentiment? BANG. Holding hands? BANG BANG BANG. Pillow talk WITHOUT the sexy-time?KABOOM!Let me just put it this way: if romance isn’t your *thing* (be it because of sparkly vampires or otherwise) try this. You might find that actually it is, and you just didn’t realise it. Like when you were a kid, and you didn’t want to sit next to the boy/girl in class because of cooties or whatever, yet now you’re an adult and you’d give anything for that special someone to catch your eye.I’m rambling now…Look, I’m just one person. An average, white, male, middle-aged not-yet-thirty, able-bodied person. In terms of books I normally go for anything with an underdog, fighting and flirting throughout, with so many battles its hard to tell where one stops and the other ends, set in as far flung a fantasy land as you can conjure. I’m a sucker for ANY book with a ‘jerk-merc’ (read: mercenary jerks, who most likely smirk a lot, too) thing going for them. Which is why, for me to go on and on (and on) about a book that doesn’t have a mud and blood and guts battle scene, that isn’t told via the POV of a ‘jerk-merc’ who barely has time to say something clever he/she is too busy smirking, then Empire of Sands is a special book indeed. Definitely one of the most exciting releases of the year*.*or five.*Ten?*Screw it – I genuinely love this book. IT GAVE ME FEELINGS!
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  • Shealea
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to follow, but here are quick thoughts from me:- Reading Empire of Sand requires a lot of patience. I struggled with the first 12% of the book. The middle part seemed to stretch infinitely, without anything substantial really happening. But once I hit the 60% mark, I fell in love.- It can be tough to persevere with reading because the writing was dense (which is most palpable at the beginning of the book), the pacing was torturously slow, and the exciting parts of the plot were all l Full review to follow, but here are quick thoughts from me:- Reading Empire of Sand requires a lot of patience. I struggled with the first 12% of the book. The middle part seemed to stretch infinitely, without anything substantial really happening. But once I hit the 60% mark, I fell in love.- It can be tough to persevere with reading because the writing was dense (which is most palpable at the beginning of the book), the pacing was torturously slow, and the exciting parts of the plot were all located towards the end of the story.- South Asian culture!!! Character values inspired by Mughal women!!! Hauntingly beautiful desert setting!!! Indian and Hindu influences!!! Phenomenal world-building!!!- Complex power apparatuses and systems!!! Empire of Sand brilliantly encaptured how both the State and Religion work hand-in-hand in maintaining the oppressive, elitist status quo. This also talked about how powerful empires rise from bloodshed (which is timely and relevant!!!).- This is a story that's centered on resilience and sacrifice!!!- PROTECT AMUN AT ALL COSTS.- I loved how Mehr was so self-aware regarding her privilege as an Amrithi raised as a noblewoman. Her growth as a character was also exceptionally done.- THE. ROMANCE. HAD. ME. SOBBING. AND. VULNERABLE. - There was a consistent theme of parents ignoring rationality/morality out of love for their children, which I happened to really, really like.- A lot of well-executed ideas!!! I loved the idea of an empire built on the dreams of sleeping gods.- Although dense, the writing style was lush, atmospheric, and wonderfully eloquent.- THE ENDING WAS SO GOOD AND SO SATISFYING!!!- This book reminded me of Mirage by Somaiya Daud (because the leading character is of a mixed race: half-nobility, half-part of a race that's oppressed and hated), Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra (because of the South Asian influences), and Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (because the characters were fighting for their freedom + a romance develops between two "servants"). If you liked these three books, then I highly recommend Empire of Sand.Rating: 4.5. stars* Find more of my bookish shenanigans in my natural habitat!
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars! It genuinely blew me away - it is one of the BEST romantic fantasy novels I have ever read, and I absolutely devoured it (and will be re-reading it many, many times in the future, too). The politics, the magic and the characters are all so rich and complex, with SO many layers beyond the surface; in all three areas, things that I understood in one way at the beginning surprised me again and again throughout the book as different, richer layers wer I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars! It genuinely blew me away - it is one of the BEST romantic fantasy novels I have ever read, and I absolutely devoured it (and will be re-reading it many, many times in the future, too). The politics, the magic and the characters are all so rich and complex, with SO many layers beyond the surface; in all three areas, things that I understood in one way at the beginning surprised me again and again throughout the book as different, richer layers were revealed. I adore the fierce, brilliant heroine, Mehr, and the gentle, principled husband who is forced (against both of their wills) upon her; their romance is slow-burn but ends up being emotionally STUNNING. The darkness in this book is sometimes absolutely terrifying, but this is a deeply compassionate book, too - and the ending is absolutely perfect. I cried (because it was SO emotional) at various points; and I almost cried again at the ending just because it felt SO right. I absolutely loved this book, and although it was a standalone, I cannot wait to read the next book set in this world (set years later, with a different heroine). <3 <3 <3
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  • Scrill
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Orbit for the ARC for review.
  • Morgan (The Bookish Beagle)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars rounded up because this was pretty dang wonderful. It was so richly written, in setting and character and emotion. It was actually a bit slow for me to get through because it was so dense and rich, but in a good way. I had to take my time! I'm pretty sure this is a standalone, which I also love because I liked getting to see the story through to the end. It's such an intoxicating blend of choice and freedom and ritual and love- lots of tension and politics and magic. There's also a ver 4.5 stars rounded up because this was pretty dang wonderful. It was so richly written, in setting and character and emotion. It was actually a bit slow for me to get through because it was so dense and rich, but in a good way. I had to take my time! I'm pretty sure this is a standalone, which I also love because I liked getting to see the story through to the end. It's such an intoxicating blend of choice and freedom and ritual and love- lots of tension and politics and magic. There's also a very slow burn, tender romance which was pitch perfect. And Mehr was the sort of MC I love- strong even in her privileged position, but malleable enough to learn, stretch, and grow both through unfortunate circumstance and her own choice. I'm running out of adjectives but I really enjoyed this book.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with Suri’s Mughal-Indian fantasy at page one. Mark your calendars for fall 2018, because you don’t want to miss this stunning debut!! Perfect for Juliet Marillier and SA Chakraborty fans.
  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    "The dreamfire was everywhere now. It was in the air she breathed, in the sweat at the nape of her neck. She could feel the strength of it churning the city into a storm. The buildings were drenched in light, debris flying through the air as if the world had tipped on its side and sent everything sprawling. Even the earth felt like it was moving beneath her feet. It was dizzying, terrifying.Exhilarating.She was lost, but everything inside her was aflame with nameless joy, the feeling of a perfec "The dreamfire was everywhere now. It was in the air she breathed, in the sweat at the nape of her neck. She could feel the strength of it churning the city into a storm. The buildings were drenched in light, debris flying through the air as if the world had tipped on its side and sent everything sprawling. Even the earth felt like it was moving beneath her feet. It was dizzying, terrifying.Exhilarating.She was lost, but everything inside her was aflame with nameless joy, the feeling of a perfectly danced rite or the bright recognition in a daiva's eyes. She was lost, but her body knew this storm. It knew it was home."If you know me at all, you may have noticed that I'm into the.. stabby side of fantasy. Give me dark, give me sexy, give me ALL THE BLOOD!! But I can appreciate a lighter fantasy, I can appreciate well-written books.I just don't think that I'm the typical audience for something like this. Yet of course I can appreciate that there is a large collective of people that will really, truly dig the hell out of this. As evidenced by the marketing I'm seeing for this book around social media, it's already super popular. For that I'm happy, because I am always on board for more diverse reads. We need more fantasy that isn't written by yet another white dude! But Empire of Sand is not one that I could really sink my teeth into at the end of the day. That's the beauty in reading, though! It's completely subjective. I mentioned in another recent review how I nerd out over detail.. but oof. There's only so much I can read about someone eating and sleeping and studying rituals and performing rites before my mind starts to wander and inevitably I end up blasting heavy metal music and planning my next read and just.. I struggled with this one.Empire of Sand focuses on Mehr, who is an illegitimate highborn. Her father is an Ambhan nobleman and her mother an Amrithi. When she was younger, her father exiled her mother from the empire. Their religion and culture is looked down upon by the ruling class. However, it is said that the Amrithi are descendants of the daiva, who were the children of the Gods and that their blood contains magic. Magic that Mehr has inherited. Mehr is slowly suffocating under the thumb of her father and stepmother. Eventually, Mehr is caught doing something she shouldn't have been and ends up having to make a decision that could change the trajectory of her life forever.The language was poetic in parts and over-the-top flowery in others. The middle felt slightly bloated. The pace was uneven and the plot meandering at times. I fucking LOVED that it was inspired by Mughal India. The history, folklore, myth and magic. Overall, this is a lovely story. Truly. So lovely. It just felt like there was something missing. That thing which takes a good story and catapults it into complete and utter epic brilliance.My biggest issue was that I just didn't buy the relationship between the two main characters. If I'm not feeling any type of way about a romance that is such a large portion of the story, then it sours me towards it. The relationship felt like a hackneyed trope. I'm not putting down romance. I love a bit of naughty, steamy, passionate love bits thrown into my fantasy, but romance is just not a genre that I gravitate towards. It's not for me, personally. No disrespect at all. I don't want to be that person that shits all over another genre. But I'm also allowed to have my own opinion and I have no problems voicing said opinions. I'm not going to ever pretend to like something just because someone else loved it or because it's been majorly hyped up. That's just not who I am. I think I make that pretty clear in my writing! I'm transparent in that respect, for sure. TL;DR.. read what you want. When you want. However you want. If you don't like something, don't ever let anyone make you feel less for having a different opinion. Especially with social media, there is such a hive mind complex. You've got to be true to yourself and your own fucking opinions!What's in my wheelhouse may not necessarily be what is in yours, so YMMV.(Thanks to the rad folks at Orbit Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!)
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  • Peter McLean
    January 1, 1970
    Rich and evocative, a beautiful story beautifully written. Highly recommended.
  • Rosie Rizk
    January 1, 1970
    On its own, the book isn't that great. It's a slow and long journey with lots of dark bits. It's the writing that turns this book into an entrancing read. The prose flows wonderfully, exotically, making it hard to put down, even though I wasn't that into the story itself. There's also a fascinating magic system that's based more on unearthly creatures and rites than on the traditional western magic we're used to. Together with the writing style, the Asian influenced culture, and bits of fantasy On its own, the book isn't that great. It's a slow and long journey with lots of dark bits. It's the writing that turns this book into an entrancing read. The prose flows wonderfully, exotically, making it hard to put down, even though I wasn't that into the story itself. There's also a fascinating magic system that's based more on unearthly creatures and rites than on the traditional western magic we're used to. Together with the writing style, the Asian influenced culture, and bits of fantasy and lushly written romance, the book is hard to dislike entirely. I didn't love it, but I couldn't put it down either. I'm not sure if I'd read the sequel or not. I'm still trying to figure out if I enjoyed this book, or if I just had a hard time putting it down. Time will tell. Still, reading this was an enjoyable journey, and is sure to appeal to the YA audience it was written for. I recommend it for fans of Graceling. Disclaimer: I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kath (Read Forevermore)
    January 1, 1970
    An arc of this book was sent to me by Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Rating: 3.5/5Empire of Sand is a stunning and beautifully written book. With it's lyrical prose, Empire of Sand took me into an epic fantasy world that explored the lengths one must go to find love. Although the first half of the book was rather slow and tedious, the ending half was just intense and fast-paced! It had me on the edge of my seat with it's unpredictable turns. I An arc of this book was sent to me by Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Rating: 3.5/5Empire of Sand is a stunning and beautifully written book. With it's lyrical prose, Empire of Sand took me into an epic fantasy world that explored the lengths one must go to find love. Although the first half of the book was rather slow and tedious, the ending half was just intense and fast-paced! It had me on the edge of my seat with it's unpredictable turns. I also found the romance in this book (my heart still swoons at the thought of Mehr and Amun!) to be similar to that of the plot. However, I found it to be a bit too fictional. The romance evolved in a way that seemed just a bit too unreal. But despite all of that, I really enjoyed it and AGHHHH my heart!!!This book is definitely unique, and I am definitely more curious about Middle Eastern/South Asian fantasies and folklores.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Blurb to come. Once my heart goes back inside my chest.
  • Kate (Reading Through Infinity)
    January 1, 1970
    TWs/CWs: Domestic and emotional abuse, violence, discussions of sexual assault and rape, on-page death, sexism, colourism, religious descrimination.Ahhhh I was enthralled by this book. The narrative was imaginative and world-building was culturally-rich and captivating. Mehr was a brilliant, driven protagonist, whose desire for social revolution was the key to unlocking her ability to help others. Full review to come when I've calmed down, but trust me, you need to read this.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    There's nothing I love better in fantasy than epic and immersive world building. Talk about a book where I could feel the desert heat on my skin and sand underneath my feet. The physical world doesn't only sweep you away, Empire of Sand is full of myths, magic, and injustice in your blood. It's a book about forbidden magic, a war against a religion, and the need to hide in plain sight.Empire of Sand talks about when we have to work for our enemy, the importance of choices, and the power of love There's nothing I love better in fantasy than epic and immersive world building. Talk about a book where I could feel the desert heat on my skin and sand underneath my feet. The physical world doesn't only sweep you away, Empire of Sand is full of myths, magic, and injustice in your blood. It's a book about forbidden magic, a war against a religion, and the need to hide in plain sight.Empire of Sand talks about when we have to work for our enemy, the importance of choices, and the power of love freely given.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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