Rebel of the Sands is the debut novel from Canadian-born author Alwyn Hamilton. The first of a trilogy, the book promises “an epic story of love, swirling desert sands and revolution” and is described by Alice Swan, commissioning editor at Faber, as “the most original, genre-busting YA novel I have ever read.”
So the big question in my mind as I started this book was, “will it live up to the hype?” I’m now around two-thirds of the way through and my answer so far is definitely yes!
First of all, this book pulls no punches. The very first scene sees the heroine, Amani, take part in a shooting contest (whilst disguised as a boy) in the “no good” town of Deadshot – her aim is to earn enough money to leave her oppressive uncle’s house and make for a new life in the capital city, Izman. This is a huge gamble for Amani – with no living parents she is effectively “owned” by her uncle – he has plans to make her his wife and the punishment if she is caught trying to escape would certainly be severe, possibly even fatal.
Thus Amani is marked out from the start as a remarkable heroine – brave, intelligent, strong, quick-witted and none too shabby with a rifle!
Also taking part in the shooting contest is mysterious “foreigner” Jin who is wanted by the Sultan’s army. After capturing a Buraqi, a mythical horse-like beast, Amani and Jin flee Dustwalk together and here the adventure really begins.
This book really does have it all: mythology; fantasy; rebellion; romance (but not too much!) and suspense. And speaking of suspense, I’m afraid I must end this post here as I need to get back to the book and find out what happens next!