Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Hello and welcome to blog post number 20! How am I going to celebrate this achievement?.... probably going to buy some books! And you dear reader should too, and may I recommend a lovely book I read recently; namely Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri.
Empire of Sand:
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…
Its October now, and that is usually a month populated with horror reading, and I was planning on reading only that for the whole period, but I got distracted by the evocative cover of Empire of Sand, and I thought to myself, why not read a Mughal inspired romantic fantasy instead, so I did. If you are anything like me then your fantasy reading probably have been populated by settings inspired by European medieval times, so for me it is refreshing being exposed to new impulses, gone are the usual knights, mages, kings, castles, dragons and snowy mountains, instead we have mystics, emperors, palaces, spirits and vast sandy deserts.
In this story we follow Mehr, a young woman of noble standing, she is the daughter of the governor of the province Irinah, which is part of the Ambhan empire, which is ruled by a benevolent emperor. Being a noble woman should be nice if it was not for the fact that she is half Amrithi, a shunned group of people, that lives as roaming tribes. Some of the Amrithi is said to have special powers, and that is true for Mehr, her abilities are revealed during a storm of dreamfire. What is dreamfire you say? well in this world gods exist and they are sleeping (by the way, this is what I would do if I was an all-powerful being, I would just go to bed and have a snooze, a long luxurious nap!) Anyway, their dreams manifest as storms washed in colourful fire. Mehr is caught out in this storm, and she dances, in this world dancing has power, for some people can perform rites with their dancing and then draw power form the sleeping gods to affect the world. Mehr is one of these people.
After her abilities are revealed, a group of mystics arrive the governor palace, and gently suggest that Mehr marries one of the visiting mystics, the mystics are the followers of the Maha, the true power of the empire, he is an immortal being and the first emperor.
Mehr marries the mystic out of duty and to protect her loved ones, the man she marries is a tall sombre being named Amun that is also an Amrithi. When Amun was introduced I thought he probably was going to be a bastard and a villain, but no, he is just like me, a big lovable grump. There is only one problem with the marriage, it’s the little issue that when the Amrithi takes a vow, the vow literally gets burned into their skin and hurts when they do not follow what they have vowed (modern licence agreement for various apps and programs would be hell for the Amrithi!)
The mystics take Mehr to the palace where the Maha lives, to use her powers to benefit the empire, when Mehr finally meets the Maha, it is revealed that he is evil, not only that he is also a bit of a dick! Mehr has no choice but try to escape and take Amun with her (who she kind of has fallen for)
So, did I enjoy the book? Yes, very much so! It’s a beautifully written tale filled with great characters set in an exotic world, what more can one want? It is also an impressive debut book from clearly a talented writer!
For the character Mehr, well she proves that you don’t have to be a sword wielding warrior to be a badass, you just need strength of character, conviction and some serious dance skills (does not hurt being in love with a big grump either).
I liked how dancing is a part of this worlds magic system, it’s a nice change from the usual Latinesque language used to summon magic spells or powers given from good or evil gods, here we have rites used to harness the dreams from gods to affect the world.
The daiva (this worlds spirits/creatures/monsters), are fascinating and something I hope to see more of in the next book. The daivas comes in all sizes and shapes, early on we are introduced to a harmless small birdlike daiva, later on we meet not so harmless nightmarish fanged daivas. Most of them are described as formless darkness and shadows, and it is said that long ago they walked the earth in shapes like humans.
You should read this book if you like: Fantasy set in an exotic world. Cute bird spirits. Romance. Dancing. Deserts (almost wrote desserts, in which case go for the book anyways, enjoy it with a nice piece of cake).
And if you have read this book and enjoyed it. Then you have not long to wait for the follow up, Realm of Ash is out 12th of November and is available in all self-respecting bookshops and retailers. I for one will be getting a copy!
Notes on book:
Genre: Romantic fantasy
Page number: 456