Blurb (as on Goodreads):
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 lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn.
I dived into this book amidst a reading slump and came out of it victorious. Now if that doesn’t say much about this book, I don’t know what will.
Tasha Suri’s novel ‘The Empire of Sand’ is a fantasy that is set in the deserts, with strong female characters, a dance resembling the classic ‘tandava’ performed by Lord Shiva and his beloved Parvati, the purpose of which is to restore balance in this universe.
Mehr the daughter of an Ambhan governer is offered a marriage proposal because of her blood from her mother’s side (the Amrithi tribe). Basically, she is gifted enough to perform a dance that controls the dreams of the Gods, dreams that can be shaped according to the will of a controlling factor, the Maha in this case. ‘Maha’ who turns out to be the villain in this story is in need of a pair (a man and a woman) bound together by marriage and sexual intercourse. The traditional dance by such a pair has the capacity to dance through a firestorm and eventually, shape the dream of the Gods into something powerful and sometimes, destructive.
But Mehr is determined to free herself and her husband Amun, from these vows. Because living under the Maha is slavery in itself and a painful one at that. Mehr is the protagonist of this story and I am so glad to see that it was she who set the tone of the novel right up till the conclusion. Amun is a gentle soul, who supports Mehr even though they have their differences. But he is always one step behind Mehr and it is she who saves the day.
The world-building is fairly simple, with explanations wherever necessary. The first few chapters might feel like a mess but as the plot starts to settle in, everything makes more sense. The writing is fast-paced and the insights into these character’s mindset are easy to follow. The mysterious dance, the rituals, and the outcomes are intriguing to read but sometimes, difficult to follow.
‘Empire of Sand’ follows a female protagonist who is different and forbidden, and whose survival depends on basic instincts. Inspired by women from the Mughal period, it is a well-woven fantasy, that is easy to read and quite different from all the fantasy we are used to reading these days.Purchase Links: |Amazon Kindle|Amazon Paperback|
*Thank you Fairlight Books for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own*