Empire of Sand
by Tasha Suri
Published November 2018
This is one of my reads for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. It follows Mehr, a half-Amrithi, half-Ambhan girl who refuses to let anyone erase her Amrithi heritage, even if the Empire oppresses the Amrithi tribes horribly. When her gift manifests, the Empire comes for her, and she learns the horrible truth behind the Empire’s longevity. Most empires inevitably reach a point where they can expand no longer, and gradually decline. This Empire has not done that, and the Amrithi pay for it with their blood. Along the way, she finds a daiva willing to bargain with her, and an Amrithi man bound by his vows but trying to circumvent them for her sake.
I really liked the magic in this book, and just the world-building in general. Mehr is a strong-willed character, and shows character growth in the book, transforming from the pampered daughter of a governor to a woman willing to fight and die for her beliefs and those she loves.
The sequel, Realm of Ash, appears to follow Mehr’s younger sister, which makes sense, as Mehr’s book seems pretty self-contained. You could easily just read the first book and be perfectly happy at the ending, but I’m quite happy to see there’s more written in this world. I am eager to see what happens after the events of the first book. It’s coming out in November, so I’ll have to make a note to myself to remember it exists!
From the cover of Empire of Sand:
The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended from 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: She can manipulate the dreams of the gods to alter the shape of the world.
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 . . . .