One thing I have learned from all the reading is to never expect anything from a book beforehand. And so, except from the blurb, I knew nothing about the book before diving in. And even still, I was somewhere hoping for an action packed, dramatic, fantasy, and guess what, this book, is a love story.
Empire of Sand starts with Mehr, who is the governor’s illegitimate child and has always been discriminated against by her step mother who also makes sure that she stays away from her little sister. Mehr’s mother is an Amrithi, descendant of the Gods, while her father is an Ambhan, royal blood. Mehr, and her sister Arwa are so, half blooded, and stay with their father and his Ambhan wife, after their mother is exiled. The Amrithi are considered monsters, ill-blooded, and have been disappearing from the kingdom of Ambha. The only happiness in Mehr’s life is Lalita, a fellow Amrithi, who has taken care of her ever since she was a child and taught her the dances and sacred rites of the Amrithi. Her life changes, when Lalita disappears and she, is forced into an arranged marriage to Amun, and has to be a part of a group called the mystics, who follow the Maha and are dear to the emperor.
So far, so good. From the story told uptill here, I was expecting a battle to overthrow the ruler or something, but I was given an intricately told story of love and how Mehr and Amun overcome every obstacle, with the strength of their relationship and trust. Sounds cliche? The regular teen romance? But it isn’t. Even if it is a very basic story, the author always has a choice of how to tell it, and in my opinion, Tasha Suri has made all the right ones.
With a perfect backdrop of a unique world inspired by the Mughal India, strong leads and villains, with a portrayal of dance, in all its beauty and glory, Suri has made this love story, a very entertaining and different one.I really liked Mehr, who had nothing in common with the conventional fantasy heroine, but still proved to be a fantastic one in her story. Amun on the other hand, was a very intriguing character. Although, I do feel that we could have been given a better insight into his character. And Maha? Oh I hate him. So. Much. And how better can I say that he was a good villain xD Although, again, I wanted to know more of Maha’s back story and how he ended up like he did.
The book is binge worthy, but still a little slow paced in the beginning and a little stretched towards the end. The writing style is elegant but I found the descriptions of the rites a bit flowy.
Another thing I felt that was the love between Mehr and Amun, could be the result of Stockholm’s syndrome. Could be. But still I will choose to believe that they found the person whom they can trust and love in each other, finally, after troubled and lonely childhoods.
Will I read the second book? Yes, but not now. As it is a companion novel, I am looking forward to reading it sometime later.
Should you read it? Well, yes of course! I totally recommend it!