Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton


Rebel of the Sands follows the tale of Amani Al’Hiza, born in a town named Dustwalk. In a world where being a woman meant a life of servitude and submission, she secretly honed her skills in sharpshooting and waited for the day she could use them to go to Izman, a place her late mother would often talk about. Then she meets Jin, a roguish foreigner who proves to be the solution to uncover the mysteries surrounding her past, as well as the realities of the country she calls home.

Hamilton presents a new take on the typical YA trope, mixing elements of fantasy with mid-western culture. It is full of magic and mystery, intertwined with folktales of courageous princesses and stories of long-forgotten Gods. Since the first page, Amani is shown as a strong female lead, a diamond in the rough. You can’t help but fall in love with her personality and confidence, her passion and drive. Jin describes her as “…that girl who dressed as a Boy, who taught herself to shoot true, who dreamed and saved and wanted so badly. That girl was someone who had made herself matter.”

While the romance between Jin and Amani does play an important role in the book, it is never the focus of the story; and Amani never lets it distract her from her true goals. She meets new people with different backgrounds along the way, and with the help of her new friends, pushes through her problems and faces the world head-on.

The fast-paced, action-packed pages make this book hard to put down. I found myself constantly wanting to know what would happen next, especially with plot twists at every turn. It kept me on my toes, eagerly awaiting the next time Amani would use her gifts, or the next time she and her friends would plan something utterly crazy that would most probably end up with at least two or three people injured by the end of it. The reason why they would risk so much is because, according to the author, “These ideas [of revolution] could make men shout for rebellion even when it meant that they would hang for it.”

Rebel of the Sands is the first of a trilogy. The following two books, Traitor to the Throne and Hero at the Fall, continue this thrilling tale of Amani and her rebellion. In the end, if you’re fond of the classic join-a-rebellion-and-overthrow-the-king trope but are tired of conventional characters and predictable plots, these are definitely the books for you.