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Empire of Sand

(The Books of Ambha #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  6,646 ratings  ·  1,395 reviews
A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial gover
Kindle Edition, 413 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Orbit
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Laura This is an adult fantasy, but YA fantasy readers will enjoy this as well.

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  6,646 ratings  ·  1,395 reviews

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chai ♡
I devoured this book in two settings, and longed for more at the end. A story as graceful and compulsory as the magic it is about. Tasha Suri captivates with her tale of gods spellbound by greedy mortals, love that blinds and pains and heals, freedom and its unpayable cost, and an eviscerating and unsparing condemnation of imperialism.

Featuring: an arranged marriage between a girl who can compel the dreams of gods through dance, a tortured boy with a tender heart who'll make you want to protecti
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2019
This was the perfect recipe of so many of my favorite things. An original world with mythology and gods and dream magic. Themes of love and bonds and vows and family. A slow burn romance that is a major plot point but is woven into the plot so masterfully that it doesn’t distract from the plot. A fierce powerhouse main character, who is both fragile and strong. Lines that brought me to tears. Full review on my channel to come with lots of gushing and probably little coherence but just know I lov ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i love going into books with no expectations because if it doesnt work out, no hurt feelings. but if it does work out, then the surprise completely makes my day. and what a delightful surprise this was!

what really caught me is how much substance there is in this story, especially for a debut novel. the feeling i had after finishing this reminded me of how i feel after a nice meal - completely satiated and wonderfully content. and there is so much to feast on in this book. lush cultural magic, co
James Tivendale
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I received an uncorrected proof copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tasha Suri and Orbit Books.

In Empire of Sand, the original and excellent South Asian influenced fantasy debut of Tasha Suri's we follow the action of Mehr who is an illegitimate but highborn daughter of a governor of the Ambham Empire. It begins when a Daiva which is sort of a winged and taloned spirit invades the castle and infiltrates Mehr's younger sister's room, who is terrified as a young child would be. Meh

this is one of those “shrug - not for me” books.

which i suspected going into it. as much as we are cautioned against judging books by their covers, the whole reason covers exist* is in order to attract the desired audience, and in general, i am neither the audience desired by fantasy authors nor the audience attracted by the “weapon floating on textured background” cover trend.

but i’m nothing if not complaisant, so i agreed to give it a go. sometimes i surprise myself - i liked
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Mehr lives in a world where she is only half accepted. The Ambhan people have conquered and destroyed the Amrithi, and as a woman with parents from both worlds, she struggles to find her place as a worshipper of the old Amrithi gods and traditions. When the Emperor’s mystics take note of her Amrithi powers, they force her into a marriage with one of their own, and Mehr becomes a very important pawn in a deadly game of men, gods, and demons.

When I heard “Indian-inspired adult fantasy”, I was
Will Byrnes
When you dance with the Rite of Dreaming, you dance with the gods.

Mehr’s got it made, I guess,
There were perks to being the Governor of Irinah’s daughter—even an illegitimate one. People obeyed you. Servants rushed to your bidding. Even the ones who loathed you—and there were many—were forced to veil their contempt and keep their loathing eyes lowered. All people faced hatred. All people suffered. Few had the cushion of wealth and privilege to protect them as Mehr did.
nice wardrobe, pl
Vibur (semi-hiatus)
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
*review under construction*

K.J. Charles
Feb 04, 2019 added it
Shelves: fantasy, mf
A sweeping fantasy with a gorgeous romantic heart set in a Mughal-India inspired world. Evil deathless emperor, desert spirits, magic storms, sinister cult: all glorious stuff without a goddamn orc or elf in sight. Best of all is the hero and heroine's strength. The heroine has a magic gift but it's not the usual Chosen One stuff: her main skill is that she learned how to survive palace politics as a mostly powerless person, can apply those lessons to a much worse oppression, knows how to manipu ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mehr has magic in her blood; a little spark of the divine passed down through generations, gifting some of the Amrithi with amata, allowing them to see daiva and dance rituals that shape the powerful dreams of sleeping gods. When she mistakenly unveils her true potential under a sky filled with dreamfire, it doesn’t take long for the Emperor’s mystics to arrive at her door, prepared with a scheme that will lead her to a mysterious desert temple where the Maha awaits. Here she will be tested and ...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
Empire of Sand delighted me with its well-crafted world inspired by Mughal India. One could argue that it could have been more detailed on some aspects but perhaps thanks to the palpable atmosphere, I needed nothing more. I loved Mehr, I adored Amun, I was enraptured by everything about the rites and the mythology, and absolutely repulsed and terrified by the villain.

I've seen reviews complaining that the plot was predictable and really, I do get it. I think, maybe, that when we read and review
Samantha Shannon
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An ode to the quiet, fierce strength of women, with a magic system based on dance, set in a world conjured by the dreams of gods. Pure wonder.
William Gwynne
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, reviewed
My expanded review for Empire of Sand is now on Booknest! Looking forward to the publication of the sequel in a few months... Empire of Sand review

Empire of Sand was a great debut by Tasha Suri that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has definitely made sure that I will read its sequel, Realm of Ash.

The world building and culture was efficiently depicted, and something I easily understood although I have not read many books with the influence of Indian culture.

The main character was someone who I really e
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I should have known something was up when Empire of Sand remained at a stunningly low price of $2.99 for the kindle edition shortly after its release. I choked it up to ‘unknown author syndrome’ and decided to press my luck, avoiding a digital copy for a paperback in hopes that it and its subsequent sequels would find a loving home on my bookshelves for years to come. Yeah…not so much. Empire of Sand instead suffers from what I like to call ‘PWP – Plot? What Plot?’ Although on its surface exists ...more
Salma19 (High Lady of the Dawn Court)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review to come! (Once I catch up on writing them, hah - sorry all!)
alluring B ❄︎
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-fiction

I’ve been longing for some magical experience from a book and i must say this book was just dazzlinggg!!

Throughout the first half of the book i really thought that this would be a 5 star read but of course, when it comes to atmospheric typa books (beautifully written, i must add) they tend to drag a little. Nonetheless, world building & set up = BOMB. Suri is definitely up to par with Laini Taylor and S. A Chakraborty.

Also, being a hopeless romantic reader i was OBV SHIPPING THESE TWO STUB
Rosamund Hodge
This was a gorgeous and powerful story featuring two of my favorite themes: people making choices even when they are almost entirely powerless, and the power of people choosing to be kind. With an amazing slow-burn romance and numinously beautiful magic to boot.
Nov 26, 2018 marked it as dnf-lost-interest
Read my full review on GracelingAccountant.


Hey ya’ll!

While requesting an Advanced Reader Copy of Sisters of the Winter Wood from Orbit recently, I was offered an ARC of Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and I jumped at the chance. I’m a sucker for a desert fantasy, and I knew I would love this one but I never expected just how much. This has come to be a new favorite book for me, and I can’t wait for everyone to get their hands on this gem. Empir
EMPIRE OF SAND is the kind of book that you have to reread certain parts, or read more slowly, just so you can savor the words, story, and development. At least, that's what I did. Inspired by the Mughal era of India, EMPIRE OF SAND features a resilient heroine who struggles to survive in an empire where her people, the Amrithi, are despised. Throughout her journey, she finds hope and kindness and respect in the unlikeliest of places.

Think of it as loosely beginning like THE WRATH AND THE DAWN
Rebecca Roanhorse
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a romance wrapped up in elegant prose and powerful fantasy worldbuilding. I very much enjoyed it, particularly the magic system (sleeping gods that dream the world, magic in dance and sigils) and the relationship at the heart of the story. Both the hero and heroine were great and their relationship felt real and redemptive. A few really great moments that surprised. It does get a little repetitive in the middle for my admittedly fast-paced tastes, but others might not mind a languid stro ...more
Brenda Waworga
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh absolutely love this book!!! Mugal India inspired + slow burn and swoon worthy romance + unique magic system and worldbuilding.... i had the best time read this book

I love the main character: Mehr!! she started reckless and annoyed me but i love she grew stronger, smarter but also softer through the book!! and Amun.. oh my sweet tortured soul Amun 😭 i want to hug himmmmm
Umairah | Sereadipity
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 5/5. Writing: 5/5

Empire of Sand was an intricate story inspired by Mughal India. The world building was spectacular, I felt fully immersed in the culture and history.

It tells a tale of a noblewoman called Mehr who had an Amrithi mother and an Ambhan father. The Amrithi were desert people who were said to be descended from the daiva (in the book the daiva are the children of the gods) and can perform special rites through dancing and movement. The Ambhan Empire shunned them
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

In the lusciously written Empire of Sand, debut author Tasha Suri takes readers on a journey to a south Asian-inspired fantasy world full of mysterious magic and spirits. A strong and alluring intro eventually gave way to a rather mild and slow-moving plot which is why I am only tentatively embracing this book with a middling rating, and because I didn’t find my attention hooked completely since the plodding pace made some
This, not her past, was the perfect dream, the mirage hovering on the horizon, always out of grasp: a love given freely, without vows or seals, chains or guilt. She ached for it.

This was utterly gorgeous and evocative and the love between Mehr and Amun was so PURE and GOOD, I—

Shout-out to Nadine for suggesting we do this book for our buddy read—it blew my expectations away 😭😭😭
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
I keep asking for fantasy with a main romance plot and am often recommended this book. The romance is slow burn. Low heat factor but the pining is excellent. I'd recommend the paperbook instead of the audiobook. ...more
I quite liked this debut work based on Mughal India, with the protagonist Mehr being an illegitimate daughter of an Ambhan governor (and noble), and an Amrithi mother. The Amrithi are the conquered people of the land, and originally descended from daiva (elemental beings). The Amrithi are reviled, and live on the margins, in hiding, and in the desert.
When Mehr one night performs an Amrithi ritual dance (think bharatnatyam with its stylized gestures and symbolic forms), she comes to the unfortuna
ℓуηη, ℓσкιѕℓутнєя¢ℓαω
Wow, what a book! 🤩 Can’t believe I let this sit on my shelf as long as I did 🤦🏻‍♀️

Actually I'm glad it sat on my shelf a whole year since the sequel doesn't come out until November! 😱If I'd read this last year when I bought it I would've been infinitely sad having to wait for Realm of Ash.

Anyway, this book was unexpectedly amazing!!! It took me by storm and wrung me out! And it's a debut! I am always immensely happy when a debut is this strong. It gives me high hopes for that author
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Tasha Suri was born in the U.K., but toured India during childhood holidays. She is now a librarian in London, and studied English and creative writing at Warwick University.

Other books in the series

The Books of Ambha (2 books)
  • Realm of Ash (The Books of Ambha, #2)

Articles featuring this book

  Talia Hibbert is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. A lifelong bookworm, she’s known for haunting the local library,...
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