Empire of Sand
I enjoyed this book so ridiculously much, and I don’t usually listen to audiobooks. Also, please excuse any misspellings, as I did listen to an audiobook and so I’m trying my best. :)
Mehr is the half-Amrithi daughter of a governor, and as such has lived her life relatively free of the confines Ahmban culture would usually place on her. That is, until she decides to dance a rite during a storm of Dream Fire that sends her on a spiraling path out of her control, but that may just save her people from persecution.
Starting with what I didn’t like, I really hate the way there’s a new trope in books where the woman who can’t have kids of her own ends up evil with the sole reason for her evilness being…that she can’t have kids. It’s absurd and annoying, and it’s been in many different things (Sex Education, for example) and I need it to stop. There can be a lot of reasons for someone to be twisted and evil, but can we stop with the kid excuse for women? Thanks.
This novel really kept me guessing the whole time. I had several theories that were spinning around, and all of them sounded solid, up until the story subverted them. The woman Amrithi with Amun was not Mehr’s mom, Mehr did not use the storm to free Amun, and other ideas that simply were not correct. I love a story that can keep me on my toes.
I appreciated the emotional payoff of the several different storylines, especially Hema’s ultimate revenge. The Maha got what he deserved on the business end of Hema’s sister’s blade, and it was so delicious.
The ending was great too. A little rushed, but it helped with the urgency and the shock of the Maja’s murder and whatnot. I liked the ending, and I felt it was fitting for the story Suri was trying to tell. I was worried when I read the description of the second book that something terrible was going to happen, but Suri wrapped it up nicely.
I love Amun and Mehr as a couple. It was well-balanced, and I can appreciate a relationship where they both are looking out for one another. I hate the fact that they were thrown together the way they were, but I hope they use one another to heal from it.
I was getting HEAVY gay vibes from Laleta and Usha, but they were just besties, which is fine. Learn from my mistakes and don’t make assumptions.
Anyway. I had a great time. The narrator was fantastic. And I really want to read the sequel to see what Mehr’s sister is getting up to.
Trigger warnings: abandonment (from a parent), alcohol, blood, confinement, death, hate crime (against a group based on real people), murder, suicidal thoughts, suicide (discussed), war, colonization, genocide (against a group based on real people), grief, racism (against a group based on real people), religious bigotry, sexual content (mostly metaphorical), body horror, classism, infertility (implied), physical abuse (not between the main couple), slavery, torture
Did I like? Yes.
Recommend? Yes, especially for lovers of high fantasy based on real historical times, specifically those of Mughal India.