Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri

Fantasy, 496 pages, published in 2018

After keeping part of her identity hidden for her whole life, Mehr’s abilities become known the Emperor. Because of this and in order to keep her family safe, she enters into an arranged marriage with a mystic and has to join them in their plans.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: coerced sex (this is debatable for me, but I’ve seen other people tag it that way), violence, torture

I really freaking enjoyed this book! I went in with almost no expectations, just knowing that it was an adult fantasy romance based on historical India.

The beginning of this book is definitely on the slower side, but I didn’t mind and it picks up by the middle. The writing is so beautiful that it didn’t even matter that not much had happened in the first chunk of the book. The beginning really allows you the time to get to know Mehr, where she comes from, and what is important to her.

I think the magic system, which is based on dance, was so cool and unique! I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like it before. I think it worked so well with the desert setting as well.

Mehr definitely starts out fairly privileged, as the daughter of a nobleman, though she is illegitimate and and her mother’s heritage is persecuted in this society, so she definitely faces some difficulties. Because of this upbringing, she is fairly naive as well, as she never really gets to leave her father’s household, but she does also have some rebellion in her. I absolutely loved seeing her grow into someone with true strength. Her growth was gradual, so it felt realistic and not over the top.

The romance is the part of this book that I was most anticipating (I love me some fake/arranged relationships) and it was so good! Amun, the man Mehr had to marry, was so resilient and he did all that he could in order to protect her, even though it would have been far easier to not. Every time they had a conversation, it just felt so packed with emotions and slowly developed their relationship.

The themes of vows, choice, love, strength, and sacrifice were so strong in this book. Part of the magic has to do with holding people to their vows, so any vow that is willingly made is so important.

This book just had so many strengths to me: the writing, the world, the character/relationship development, and the strong presence of themes. I am so happy I read this book and also so excited to read the companion novel, Realm of Ash, as well as anything else Tasha Suri writes!

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3 thoughts on “Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri

  1. I’ve just finished this book and also loved it. The style is so unique, the magic is edgy and enchanting, the characters are captivating and the whole thing felt like being carried through a story by a dance. I’m glad I have my copy of Realm of Ash to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

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