Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
The illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi woman - a nomadic group persecuted for their magic - Mehr has known little outside her own house. With the help of her mentor, she’s learned what she can of her mother’s people. But when the emperor learns that she inherited Amrithi magic, he intends to use her to gain control over the Gods. Mehr must use every ounce of strength, will and cunning that she has to survive - not to mention, to avoid incurring the wrath of the Gods.
** Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing me with a free ARC of this book **
This Mughal India inspired fantasy was written with unforgettable voice, and presents a unique magic system. Mehr is a protagonist that’s easy to root for. She’s trapped within a system that she has no control over and caught between two very different worlds. As she struggles to preserve what little teachings her mother has passed on to her from her people, she must also navigate a world in which her heritage and skin colour is persecuted. I thought Suri captured some of the troubles of being biracial perfectly, and I especially identified with Mehr and her sister, and how appearance can affect how one is treated.
I admittedly wasn’t super there for the romance (I rarely am, so that doesn’t say much) but it didn’t annoy me that much. Overall, I bought the romance, though it wasn’t your usual ‘two people meet and fall in love’ it was more a ‘two people are thrown into a horrible situation and learn to get along’ thing. At any rate, I found myself cheering for both Mehr and Amun, especially given how they were clearly trying to make the best of a bad situation.
What really entranced me about this book was the world-building. It’s rare to see such a fully formed world expressed through such flawless prose, and it was a real treat, not just because of how vivid the world was, but because of how intertwined the plot and the world were. The best built worlds are definitely found in the small details, and this book does that masterfully, and it doesn’t slow the book down to explain things too much, which is always a nice break from books that talk down a little to the reader.
All in all, a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend, especially to people who loved the Poppy War (R. F. Kuang), The City of Brass ( S. A. Chakraborty) or An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir). And though this book is adult fantasy, I would in fact recommend it to readers more inclined to young adult books.
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