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. Read more...
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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.
This startlingly original Middle-East-meets-Wild-West fantasy reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes--in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally embracing her power.
- ISBN-13: 9780451477538
- ISBN-10: 0451477537
- Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: March 2016
- Page Count: 320
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-12-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Still mourning the hanging of her mother for killing her father, 16-year-old Amani AlHiza seeks to escape the quiet, oppressive town of Dustwalk before her uncle takes her as one of his brides. With unusual blue eyes, sharpshooter skills, and no shortage of daring, Amani joins up with Jin, a lawless adventurer. Disguised as a boy, Amani travels with Jin across the desert and the Sand Seas, defending herself against Nightmares, Skinwalkers, and the pursuit of the Sultan of Mirajis army and allies. Debut author Hamilton combines elements of Western and Middle Eastern civilization and lore with her own mythology, crafting an enticing, full-bodied story. Upon meeting the Rebel Prince, one of the sultans sons who promises leadership founded on equality and justice, Amani discovers her true identity and must choose between striking out on her own or defending the prince and his followers against a dangerous weapon. Through some of the metaphors can feel forced (The rails were as empty as a drunks liquor bottle on prayer day), Hamilton successfully mingles romance with thrilling stakes, and hints at a welcome sequel. Ages 12up. Agent: Molly Ker Hawn, Bent Agency. (Mar.)
A desert girl's thrilling journey
Amani Al’Hiza is desperate to escape the tiny village of Dustwalk. Her best chance at making the money for the journey to Miraji’s capital is her gun. Dressed as a boy to enter a shooting contest, Amani makes an unlikely alliance with a mysterious foreigner. The contest ends in chaos, and Amani barely escapes with her life, let alone the prize money. When the foreigner, Jin, reappears on the run from the Sultan’s army, Amani knows it could be dangerous to help, but she can’t shake the idea that Jin may be able to help her in return.
The nation of Miraji and its rivals are rooted in geopolitical themes from our own world, adding to the sense that Amani’s journey takes place within an ancient and well-established society. Most impressive, though, is author Alwyn Hamilton’s care not to conflate the danger and poverty Amani wants to leave behind with the Miraji culture as a whole. Amani’s respect for the legends and myths of her people and her explicit pride in being “a desert girl” show the beauty of Miraji, rather than making it a wasteland to escape at all costs.
The stakes are raised significantly in the final third of the novel, which may disappoint readers who were enjoying the relative realism of Amani’s quest. However, this brilliantly executed plot twist will thrill readers anxious for true fantasy.
In Rebel of the Sands, Hamilton creates a robust mixture of gritty reality and fantasy, delivering a satisfying beginning to what promises to be an electrifying series.