Monday, November 19, 2018

Review: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

*Empire of Sand is now available!*

Empire of Sand
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Orbit, 2018
Paperback. 496 pages.

About Empire of Sand:

"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 Mughal India-inspired fantasy debut that combines beautiful worldbuilding, a highly riveting culture, and a varied cast of characters that left me hanging onto every word. I had been eagerly anticipating the chance to read this book for quite a while, so when I received a copy from Orbit I was thrilled, and I was not disappointed in the slightest--this book was amazing. It was right about the time when I realized that I was subconsciously reading this book slowly because I didn't want it to end that I knew this would be a winner for me. 

One of the biggest things that set this book apart from others for me was the main protagonist, Mehr, who is probably one of the best characters I've read in a while. Mehr is strong. She is not strong in the cliche'd 'strong female protagonist' way, but she is strong because she has conviction, she fully believes in her culture, and she will not bend to things that go against her morals or that treat people poorly. Because of this, I was constantly impressed with her decisions and how she decided to move forward with her life, something that I don't often find myself doing in books. Mehr has had a privileged life in some ways, such as growing up in a palace-like place and being the daughter of a governor, but what I liked about her was that she was very much aware of her privileged lifestyle and did not allow that to be ignored even thought she also had many struggles because the people in her land have such disdain for the magic in her blood and what she stands for. Mehr is resilient, always finding hope in places where others, such as another wonderful character in this named Amun, can see none.

The world itself was something else that I really liked about this book, and the only complaint that I have is that there wasn't more of it. I hope that in future books we are given the opportunity to explore more of this world and visit new places because the foundation laid for this world is incredibly intriguing. I love the dessert setting, the South Asian influence, and the general ruling structure of the world--one mortal emperor and one godlike ruler--and I look forward to seeing how the balance is shifted and dealt with in the next book.

This is a book that definitely moves at a slower pace than your usual high action fantasy, but that somehow still creates a story  that felt packed with engaging scenes and a plot that I desperately wanted to know more about. The pacing starts out strong with an introduction to Mehr and the basic setup of the world, and from there it continues on at a very solid pace, slowly building up anticipation for what would happen next. I can see where some might say the middle of the book felt a bit slow, but I found that the it provided an abundance of input in the way of character development and more political and magical development. Suri's writing itself is also beautiful; it's simple but elegant in its reading and I found this book impossibly easy to sink into every time I picked the book up.

One last area that I thought was exceptionally well done was with the religion and culture of the world. In particular, I loved learning about the Amrithi culture and the rites that Mehr and Amun performed; the dancing element was so beautiful to read and I found myself almost falling into the movements in my head while I read them. Everything about both this culture and the rest of the world felt so rich and full of thoughtfulness that I can tell Suri really put a great deal of effort and care into her development of it.

Overall, I have given Empire of Sand five stars! I couldn't help but fall in love with the world and the characters and I am anxiously awaiting the next installment. 

*I received a copy of Empire of Sand courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository


  1. This sounds wonderful. Mehr seems like a character I would really and I love that the story is India-inspired.

  2. So glad you loved this! I think this is the next book up for me, I'm even more excited after reading your review:-)

  3. This sounds so refreshing! I took a break from books like this simply because of how cookie cutter the main characters seem to be. Mehr seems awesome! Great review!!