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Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha Book 1) Kindle Edition
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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 lush, dazzling, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.
The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Ambhan 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.
And should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance. . .
"An ode to the quiet, fierce strength of women. . .pure wonder." —Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree
"Stunning and enthralling." —S. A. Chakraborty, USA Today bestselling author of The City of Brass
"A darkly intricate, devastating, and utterly original story." —R. F. Kuang, award-winning author of the The Poppy War
By Tasha Suri:
The Books of Ambha duology
Empire of Sand
Realm of Ash
The Burning Kingdoms trilogy
The Jasmine Throne
From the Publisher
About the Author
Tasha Suri was born in London to Punjabi parents. She studied English and Creative Writing at Warwick University, and is now a cat-owning librarian in London. A love of period Bollywood films, history, and mythology led her to write South Asian-influenced fantasy. Find her on Twitter @tashadrinkstea.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
"The best fantasy novel I have read this year. I loved it!"―Miles Cameron
"A brilliant debut that shows us a rich, magical world with clear parallels to this one: it has a sadistic leader with a cult-like following who warps the world for personal gain, a few individuals with the strength to resist him, and a planet seeking balance. But its core is a heroine defined by her choices, and her journey is absorbing, heart wrenching, and triumphant. Highly recommended."―Kevin Hearne
"Empire of Sand is astounding. The desert setting captured my imagination, the magic bound me up, and the epic story set my heart free."―Fran Wilde
"I was hooked from the moment I began Tasha Suri's gorgeous debut novel, Empire of Sand. Suri has created a rich world full of beautiful and powerful magic, utterly compelling characters, high stakes and immersive prose. I absolutely loved it!"―Kat Howard
"A darkly intricate, devastating, and utterly original story about the ways we are bound by those we love."―R. F. Kuang
"Tasha Suri's beautiful prose, with its undercurrent of warm tenderness, hides a web of escalating tension and existential dread. By the time the spider appears, Empire of Sand will have you in its grip and you won't be able to put it down."―Peter V. Brett
"This is the future of fantasy: rich, complex, unflinching. Empire of Sand is a stunning achievement."―Mark Oshiro
"Genuine, painful, and beautiful. A very strong start for a new voice."―Kirkus (starred review)
"Complex, affecting epic fantasy.... Intricate worldbuilding, heartrending emotional stakes... well-wrought prose."―Publishers Weekly (starred review) --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B07B8J34CC
- Publisher : Orbit (Nov. 13 2018)
- Language : English
- File size : 6050 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 393 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #109,495 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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Mehr is not what I expected her to be. Aside from the magic in her blood, she’s a woman born into privilege looking for a place to belong. But the strength of her heart and her hope make her a strong person and someone I continued to root for. She is confronted with hardship and does her best to protect not only herself, but the man she finds herself bound to.
Amun is such a tragic character who only wants to be loved. He is loyal and devoted in that way only romantasy heroes can be. I absolutely adore him and his bond with Mehr truly made the book as powerful as it was.
It can be argued that this book is slow on plot and pacing. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But, this is also a romance novel focused on two people learning to heal and hope together. That is just as impactful as any epic siege or action scene.
The world is unique and fresh. I loved the lore of the daiva and the Gods and wished to have seen more of them. That said, Suri’s writing is so strong and her themes so clear it was easy to be swept away by Mehr and Amun’s story.
This is a truly beautiful book and a gem in the romantasy genre. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a classic, fantasy romance with two characters overcoming hardship and strife, learning to be partners together.
Oh Mehr. I loved her so much. SO VERY MUCH AHHHHHHH.
A strong character in way that few heroines are, meaning nonviolent, Mehr would give Katniss Everdeen herself a run for her money. Jk they’d probably be best friends. But my point stands. Mehr’s toughness didn’t come from shooting an arrow in a perfect arc, or stabbing a sword into her enemy’s heart. Rather, it was her internal resolve. Mehr’s privileged upbringing didn’t change the fact that she was treated like an outsider. Kept separate from her sister and constantly told she was less-than, Merh had to look within for acceptance. No matter what others said, no matter which whispered insult passed her by, Mehr stayed true to her beliefs. Her history. Her blood. Even when she was forced into impossible situations where it would be easier to bend, there were moments she’d rather accept punishment than remain silent—a next-level type of courage and yet, only a taste of Mehr’s strength.
So look, I know there are a lot of awesome fantasies out there, including a fair amount of debuts, and you may be thinking that you don’t have room in your TBR for another. To this, I say “false.” If you love fantasy, you NEED to read EMPIRE OF SAND. Like, it’s not optional. You’d be doing your brain and heart a disservice to not immerse yourself in this unbelievable tale of love, sacrifice, and determination. And I haven’t even mentioned the diversity and Indian setting, the intricate descriptions of lavish furnishings and clothing that extended all the way to spirituality and faith. In short, I am completely obsessed with EMPIRE OF SAND and have full confidence that you will be too. Five stars plus a billion stars, for a total of one billion and five stars.
I enjoyed my read. It was a slow read. The author writes beautifully; it's the type of book/writing that you want to linger over. I didn't really find an urgency to the plot, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
I liked the character of Mehr and I liked the character of Amun. I enjoyed how their relationship grew and how they grew together and on their own. Amun, the hero, is not your big warrior type, yeah, he's big and fit and strong, but it's his personality that is different. He's gentle and patient and quietly heroic.
This isn't a romance novel, but the relationship between Mehr and Amun takes up a large part of the plot because of their special powers. Talk about a slow burn, though. I don't mind that at all, but some might find it tedious.
Anyway, I enjoyed my read and will read the next in the series. This book pretty much wraps things up for these characters but there's more to tell about this world. Should be good. :)
Top reviews from other countries
The narrative follows Mehr, a young noblewoman whose mixed heritage imparts her with the power to see and interact with the mystical daiva, along with other, more impressive powers. After dancing a particularly powerful rite one night she is inadvertently brought to the attention of the Maha, the spiritual ruler of the Empire, and finds herself being coerced into marriage with one of the Maha's mystics.
This is very definitely fantasy on a small scale. Almost the entire narrative is told from Mehr's point of view, and while we do get hints of the bigger picture, we're mostly shown how the events affect the individuals. This is where the author's true strength lies, in showing us not only the individuals but also the world around them through their eyes. Suri breathes life into pretty much every character we meet in this novel, and she does it with some of the best writing I've seen in a debut novel in a long time. On top of that, her worldbuilding is exemplary, drawing inspiration from the Mughal Empire and throwing in a dance-based magic system and fully realised spirit world.
All in all I really loved this book. It feels like a standalone novel, though I know there's already a follow-on due out in November. There are definitely threads that could feed into a second novel, though I wouldn't be too disappointed if the major characters from this one don't make it into the next.
I'll be very surprised if Empire of Sand doesn't make it on to an award ballot or two this year and look forward to more from Tasha Suri in the years to come.
Mehr is the daughter of the governor of Irinah. Her mother abandoned her and her sister and they have lead a sheltered life in the governor's place, brought up by maids and their disapproving step mother. Married off to a mystic to please the Emperor, Mehr treks across the desert and finds her marriage vows have not only bound her to her new husband, but also to the leader of the mystics, for whom she must dance to control the Daivas and the dreams of the gods.
This is not your usual swords and sorcery fantasy, although there are some swords and some sorcery. The setting takes much from the Mughal Empire, and introduces a magic system based on vows, dance and blood.
Mehr's story looks at choices and freedom, as she tries to bend her vows while protecting her husband, and meet the expectations of soceity and family.
Pretty much everyone who’s read Empire of Sand has been singing its praises, so it’s a novel that’s been on my radar for a little while now and one that’s come along at just the right time for me; I’ve been keen to read a lot more Asian-inspired fantasy this year, meaning this Mughal India-inspired tale had such a refreshing fantasy setting, and I’ve also been getting more and more into desert fantasy.
There’s so much I loved and appreciated about this book, and this is especially true of the romance. This is very much a fantasy book but, if you’re a romance reader, this is a novel you’ll want to try because the romance is still a big part of the story without becoming the central focus, and it’s such a tender romance at that.
In Ambhan society, a woman takes on her husband’s duties, responsibilities and loyalties, so Mehr is pushed into a marriage with Amun, who himself has orders he has no choice but to follow due to the vows he has made. Amun so easily could have been written as a rude and brooding type, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across a love interest, in any genre, who understands consent the way Amun does. Neither Mehr nor Amun are particularly happy about their situation, when Mehr is taken by the Emperor’s mystics her life becomes a rather miserable one, but the two of them develop a friendship which in turn develops into something more, and in the process the two of them become each other’s safety net.
There’s a lot I loved about Mehr herself, though; she’s magically gifted, but her true power is an inner, moral strength to do the right thing even when the right thing is the thing most likely to get her hurt or killed. She loves her parents, and her parents love her, but neither of them have been what a mixed race girl in the Ambhan Empire has needed, and it’s been up to Mehr in turn to care for her little sister, Arwa, while their stepmother punishes her for being another woman’s daughter.
Mysterious, absent mothers are no stranger to the SFF genre—particularly in stories with young women at their centre—but what I loved about Mehr is that while she does understand why her mother made the decisions she made, she also doesn’t hesitate to call her out for not being the mother either she or Arwa has needed. I love women who are mothers still being allowed to be complex women who aren’t defined by their motherhood, but it’s also so satisfying to see children who have been left be given the opportunity to put their feelings into words.
I want to say as little about the plot itself as I can because it would give away too much of the book, and the joy of reading this novel is not quite knowing where the story’s going to go, but Suri’s writing is moreish and once I got into the meat of the story I found it very difficult to put down. Personally I would have liked a little more world-building, but it didn’t bother me because Mehr isn’t the right protagonist to teach us about the Empire—she doesn’t spend any time there, so it wouldn’t feel natural for her to pause everything she’s doing to give us a lore dump.
The world-building isn’t lacking by any means, it just left me with questions which I imagine are going to be answered in the companion novel. What I didn’t quite get from the world, though, I definitely got from the villain; he is the worst, and I can’t remember the last time I was so frustrated and disgusted by a villain. I wasn’t sure what to think of him at first, but by the end of the novel I desperately wanted Mehr to set him on fire. He’s awful, and the ideal villain if you’re the kind of reader who loves to hate your villains.
If you’re looking for a desert fantasy, an Asian-inspired fantasy, a standalone fantasy, or simply a good fantasy, you need to pick up this book. It’s so worth your time, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Tasha Suri.
It started strong and I thought I was in for a load of fast-paced action and badassery from Mehr. Instead, what I got was a nearly 500-page book that was incredibly slow, devoid of any action, drawn-out in parts and an MC who was just so meh?
I really enjoyed the writing and think that Suri writes beautifully. It was one of the things that kept me reading even though I did not feel attached to the characters (except Amun). I feel it was as though we were going around in circles until we reached an anticlimactic end.
I also think that the relationship between Amun and Mehr lacked any real development because their actual relationship didn't get adequate page time. There was so much potential but it fell short here and since their relationship is a huge part of the story, it is really unfortunate. I wanted more interactions that consisted of them getting to know each other without the mention of the Maha.
I don't know if I'm interested enough to read book #2 but haven't completely ruled it out.