Before I get to my review, let’s give the author, Alwyn Hamilton the first word:
As she says, Rebel of the Sands is a fantasy novel set in a world that is two-thirds Arabian Nights and one-third weird western. It features magic, Djinni and other mythical creatures — as well as a brave, reckless young heroine, Amani Al’Hiza, who grew up in a backwater village called Dustwalk and taught herself to shoot against all the customs and prohibitions of her society. From the opening scene, where she sneaks into a shooting competition disguised as a boy, Amani is engaging, likable, stubborn and determined above all else to escape her miserable life.
And there’s a rebellion going on in the Desert — a nearly legendary Prince who disappeared years ago, but whose followers are still at large, fighting against the local tyrant and his foreign allies. And though Amani doesn’t think of herself as political, she will soon be swept up in the intrigue and wonder of the rebellion.
Rebel of the Sands is an exciting story, set in an original world full of mystery and magic. It is the first book in a trilogy (apparently — at least, there are three books so far) and I wasted no time leaping on the second.
If you are a superhero fan, then I don’t really need to sell you on this book. Just quit reading now and go get it.
If you’re not a superhero fan, then 1) what’s wrong with you? And 2) Do you like stories with funny, flawed heroines, a little bit of romance, work-place drama, family tensions, and the promise of redemption? Well in that case, you can go pick up this book too.
S.J. Delos describes himself as a “typical geek” from Greensboro, NC, who has always loved comic books and enjoys making up his own stories. Move the setting just over the state line into South Carolina and that could describe my own childhood. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I love this book so much.
Karen Hashimoto has just gotten out of super-max prison and is trying to put her life back together. She must deal with a sleazy parole officer, paranoid landlords and a bunch of other people who don’t want to let her forget that she was once the super-villain Crushette — the right hand and love interest of the infamous Dr. Maniac.
But then she gets caught in the middle of a super-rumble between a gang of villains and Mr. Manpower — a member of the city’s premier superhero group, The Good Guys. Karen helps round up the miscreants and before she knows it she’s been invited to audition for the team.
Her struggle to fit in with her new allies, to redeem her past mistakes, and to convince the world that she can be different is the heart of this fun, surprisingly moving novel.
The crew over at Writing Excuses spent the month of June exploring “elemental mystery”. That is, mystery understood not just as a bookstore genre like the murder mystery, but as a fundamental building block of almost all stories. Their discussion is well worth listening to — in fact, their whole series, running since the beginning of the year, on Elemental Genre, is well worth spending some time on.
But it did leave me with a question I don’t have an answer to. Is it possible to write an engaging piece of fiction that does not contain any element of mystery at all? And what would that look like?
Some people might remember that I used to have several blogs: Books and Beasts, which focused on book reviews, Birdland West, which was about birding and wildlife, plus a space for personal reflections on whatever caught my (admittedly scattered) attention.
It’s been a while since any of those blogs were active. I’ve dragged my feet about re-building this site. But in the meantime I’ve been writing. My most recently completed novel Mouthpiece is currently making the rounds of agents and publishers. I’m at work on a sequel and several other projects.
But it feels like it’s time to resurrect the public space. So here we are.
All those old topics will be coming up often in this blog often. Writing, books, music, movies, television, baseball, animals, current events. Give me a little time and themes will hopefully begin to emerge.
I will also be putting up an archive of the best of my previous blogs for anyone who might remember it fondly — or who is just curious.
So here we go, up and running again. I’ll try to keep it interesting.
"All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world." –E.B. White