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Empire of Sand: A Sprawling Desert Tale

Author: Tasha Suri

Year published: 201

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

Empire of Sand was an intricate story inspired by Mughal India. The world building was spectacular, I felt fully immersed in the culture and history.

It tells a tale of a noblewoman called Mehr who had an Amrithi mother and an Ambhan father. The Amrithi were desert people who were said to be descended from the daiva (in the book the daiva are the children of the gods) and can perform special rites through dancing and movement. The Ambhan empire shunned them and took their land causing their numbers to dwindle.

“What are you supposed to do when you have lost the war and every possibility of victory has been absolutely, thoroughly annihilated? “

Even after Mehr’s mother left her and her sister, Arwa, to their father, Mehr still tried to carry on practising her Amrithi traditions and retain her identity in a world that refused to accept them.

Mehr was a strong woman but not in the way we usually see, by waving swords around and tearing down enemies left, right and centre. She had an inner strength, a quiet strength. No matter what happened to her, no matter who came along and tried to hurt, manipulate or own her, she clung on to who she was and she clung on to her hopes and dreams.

The pacing of the book was quite slow, but I didn’t mind. It enables us to be with Mehr every step of the way and appreciate her character development even more. Also, it gave time for Mehr and Amun‘s relationship to grow, for them to build up trust and friendship before taking it further. They were so adorable together and I loved how they spent time talking to each other and sharing things about themselves which you don’t often see in many books. Amun even makes a tent out of a shawl and pillows in their room to cheer up Mehr when she’s upset.

Empire of Sand was a pleasure to read and I loved the world building and the relationships between the characters the most.