This review will be SPOILER-FREE of all three books, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the entire series. I read them so close together, I actually think I’d have a hard time separating them into separate books! There will be a (large) spoiler paragraph towards the end, mainly probably talking about my bae, Sam. ❤
Dustwalk is a deadly, unforgiving town, and Amani would do anything to escape it. When a stranger gives her that chance, she takes it without second thoughts. But dangerous creatures lurk in the night, the handsome stranger she escaped with isn’t all he seems, and Amani may be hurtling towards something bigger than she ever imagined she could be apart of.
It took me a while to get into the first book – probably about 50 or 100 pages – but once I did, there was no way I was putting this trilogy down.
The first book had so much rich world-building, and I think that this brought it down a little. There was a lot of info-dumping of the myths, and I actually think that Hamilton could write and publish a separate book of all of the myths of Amani’s world. I would definitely read it, because she’s created some truly interesting stories, and they sound so realistic, too, as if they could be in any mythology in our world.
Like I said, this series was a slow start. I’d tried to read it a couple of times before, but kept putting it down because I just wasn’t gripped at all. The writing style wasn’t particularly unfriendly, but there just seemed to be no real hook until Jin arrived. (Side note: JIN I LOVE YOU FOREVER.)
The actual story line can’t be taken much further than the first book without major spoilers, but I will tell you that it’s concerned with a Rebel Prince and a civil war. I think that civil war – which is what this boils down to – is something that happens surprisingly often, and so it was a great plot line for a fantasy world, linking it to our own real world.
Hamilton’s writing is refreshing because, and this isn’t an insult, it’s quite simple. There are no long metaphors, particularly, or epithets, and the lexis she chooses is simplistic but powerful enough that it evokes a really strong sense of location in the reader. I wanted to feel the sand between my toes, a sheema across my face, and a gun in my hands.
The characters were just brilliant, because they’re all so different. I think that Hamilton showed really realistic relationships and connections – Amani and Jin are the typical YA couple, but even then they had a relatively slow-burn relationship. But when you’re in an environment as harsh as Amani’s, and you’ve saved each other’s lives a couple of times, it’s understandable that you form a strong connection.
ALSO, there is quite a large time jump between books 1 and 2 – a year. I think that this really helped move the characters along, establish the war in a lot more detail, and also helped with characters and their romantic relationships, and friendships. I really dislike it when books have unrealistic timelines, ie ones that seem to happy too quickly to be conceivable. Hamilton did a great job with the timescale in this series, I think.
Jin and Ahmed, his brother, had such a great relationship too, because it was a real sibling relationship, but with the added power imbalance too. I won’t say why they had this power imbalance (you work it out pretty quickly), but there were other really strong sibling relationships in this series as well. It’s a nice refreshing relief to know that not every character has a romantic partner (coughthroneofglasscough). AND FRIENDSHIPS! Can we talk about Amani and Shazad? Their friendship was my all time favourite thing.
Okay so this is going to be the spoiler paragraph, for ALL THREE BOOKS! Firstly, let’s discuss my favourite character – Sam. I don’t know if it’s because I have a weakness for men named Sam (don’t ask) or because he was just so broken and cute and clever and questioning himself and his morality or… wait, no, it’s because of those. I wish so hard that he’d survived the final book, and gone on to live a really happy life with Shazad! Secondly, speaking of Sam’s death, let’s talk about others. Hamilton didn’t mince the deaths in this book, and yes, it was cliche with Amani and Jin coming back, but I actually kinda liked it. I liked that it showed the Djinn, god-like creatures, had some of the humanity they breathed into the models of people they created in their own likeness.
The ending of this trilogy was so well put together that it a) brought tears to my eyes and b) has inspired me so much. I would love to write a trilogy like this, and the happiness that this series brings me is immense! I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favourite trilogy of all time, but it’s definitely staying on my bookshelf, and I’ve recommended it so much since finishing it a couple of weeks ago.
If you haven’t read Rebel of the Sands yet, I would highly recommend picking it up, and if you’re unsure about continuing the series, take my guarantee that books 2 & 3 are way better. I really hope that you enjoy this series as much as I do if you choose to read it!
Ratings: Book 1: 3.5/5 ; book 2: 5/5 ; book 3: 5/5