Book Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Where djinn and magical horses meet gunpowder and sharpshooters.

These days, my eyes can’t take long reading sessions anymore – I keep falling asleep…so, instead, I’ve been going the audiobook route. And surprisingly, finding it quite enjoyable!

rebel-of-the-sands-alwyn-hamiltonMy latest audiobook foray is Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I remember the author promoting it a few years ago (during my last blogging stint) and I remember Oohing and Ahhing at the cover (which is seriously pretty).

Never got around to reading it until now!

The gist of the story (without revealing spoilers) is that a young girl, Amani, dreams about escaping her small village at the edge of a mighty kingdom nestled in what I imagine to be rolling dunes with pockets of oases here and there. The culture is loosely based on Arab culture, and Amani, being a girl, is essentially forced to either marry or be ostracized in her community once she comes of age. Of course, being headstrong, Amani tries her best to escape Dustwalk – and she uses her wit and her sharpshooting skills to do it.

So, I’m going to be lazy and not organize my thoughts – I’m just going to go stream-of-consciousness style 😛

I started off quite eager to hear the story, but somewhere in the range of 10%-40% in, I really wasn’t feeling it. I’m not sure if it was the audiobook reader, but I found the Amani-Jin dynamic rather eye-rolley. I didn’t see any strong basis for their relationship – no chemistry of personality, nothing. What was Amani’s attractive feature that “caught” Jin’s eye? The book perhaps tried to sell it as her wit and her braveness but I felt like Amani was just kind of rash and not that witty. Not to mention she kept chiding herself about her “stupid smart tongue” but I didn’t find anything she said to be clever or smart mouthed – she just said regular things that don’t reflect any particular spirit of character in my opinion. I had a similar feeling about Cinder and Kai – just don’t get it! Must just be physical attraction – but if so, just say it is…geez.

Also, it really bugged me how Jin seemed constantly amused by every little thing Amani did. She isn’t that entertaining at all – she’s just regular. How come Jin’s so easily impressed? You’d think he’d never met a girl before (which is NOT true since he knows the super awesome sounding Shazad).

Also, I hate fixation on body parts. Especially EYES. GAH. And…”traitor” eyes? Really???! Everytime that came up I was like, geez, why would you like to stare deep into the eyes of a traitor? I’m pretty sure the author meant “traitorous” eyes – like eyes that betray your emotions. But then, describe it as “traitorous” eyes not “traitor” eyes. I’ll admit I’m already biased towards not liking EYE-writers so perhaps I’m sounding a bit more prissy than I should about this little detail 😛

Finally — SPOILERS below:

Why the heck did she care so much about Noorsham? She barely knows him. She should, instead, hate him because he killed somebody she did know – Bahi.

—End of Spoilers 🙂

Despite my gripes with this book, I did end up enjoying some of the ending scenes once I got past the ~60-70% mark. There was also one particular conversation between Jin and Amani that was really well done and made me like Jin and Amani together (rather than whining about how annoying they are). The world’s pretty simplistic but has some cool features to it – I wish there were more mentions of djinn and other creatures of magic. Also, the plot pulled together nicely for the reveal at the end (despite the ridiculously annoying coincidences that kept happening throughout the book…). Not sure if I’ll read any next installments, though.

I’ll rate this one 3.5 broken compasses.





  1. Traitor eyes indeed! I wasn’t won over by this either – thought the world-building a bit implausible and the romance just didn’t work for me. Having said that, I’ve just borrowed the sequel from the library, so well…


  2. Haha, I think I was maybe a bit harsher on the book than warranted – it could be that the audiobook that I listened to influenced me a bit too much. Every time the author voiced Jin saying “Amani” it just sounded creepy, imo, haha.

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