Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)” as Want to Read:
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Empire of Sand

(The Books of Ambha #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,009 ratings  ·  704 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
Kindle Edition, 496 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Orbit
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Empire of Sand, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Laura This is an adult fantasy, but YA fantasy readers will enjoy this as well.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,009 ratings  ·  704 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)
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,
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.

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
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, plenty
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
All things considered, Empire of Sand was... slow, to put it aptly. But despite the plodding pace, sparseness of action and leisurely plotting, I was absorbed. The story was sensually imagined, shot through with a stunning poignancy, and I loved how the richness of Indian culture was artfully distilled into the writing.
The plot itself was simple enough, surprisingly. And yet, there was something about it that reached deep into the recesses of my heart.
Empire of Sand espouses freedom—not of
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
It has been a while since I have seen such elegant writing. Tasha Suri’s words are like balm to the soul. They are calming. I devoured them. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Until, of course, I could.

Here’s the thing: this book starts off strong, very strong. We become acquainted with Mehr, the heroine, as well as her family and friends. Well, friend. She's not exactly popular.

There is danger looming and the reader and characters are aware of it. It’s exciting. It made me turn the pages with
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing

as part of my feminist speculative fiction reading challenge!

“Both of us then. We saved one another.”

Well, I took a bit of a break from reviewing during summer school but I'm back with an absolute BANGER of a 2018 debut release, wherein I may or may not have cried about pillow forts. Spoilers follow!

So What’s It About?

Mehr is the daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother – exiled because the Amrithi are nomadic outcasts, coveted and persecuted throughout the empire of Ahmba
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 ...more
Will.J.R. Gwynne
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fantasy
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
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.
Nov 26, 2018 marked it as dnf-lost-interest
Empire of Sandis a slow-paced desert fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the Mughal Empire.

As I usually love slow, atmospheric fantasy, I thought I would at least likeEmpire of Sand, but it just didn't work for me. After loving the first 20% of it, in which a magical world with an unique magic system inspired by Indian classical dance and complex history was introduced, I started liking this book less and less, because of the pacing.

From around 25% of the book to at least 65%, the main
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.
Umairah | Sereadipity
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fangirl
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
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
Samantha Shannon
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.
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
Beatrice in Bookland
"I don't want to see the world. I want to see our future. I want to see you."

Empire of sand starts off with 100 boring af pages but trust me, keep reading. It gets so much better!
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
Liz Barnsley
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this and banged through it in just a few hours yesterday – an excellent and immediate piece of world building with some beautifully drawn characters and a wonderfully lilting prose that really immerses you deep into Mehr’s world of myth and magic.
Using India’s history, epics and myths as inspiration (as per author interview included with the novel) Tasha Suri creates a beautiful, dangerous and fascinating empire and takes the reader with Mehr as she is bound by the magic in her blood and
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got this one from Orbit/Netgalley – thank you! I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it came on my radar a couple months ago.

I didn’t know what to expect from this one, what I got was pretty awesome. This is a story of a girl who doesn’t quite belong anywhere, her mother’s race, the Amrithi, is one that has been increasingly looked down upon by the current ruling class. They are viewed as less than civilized, just some superstitious barbarians with a backward religion and culture. Mehr is
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc
Thank you to Orbit for the ARC for review.
Sol ~ TheBookishKing
Oct 04, 2018 marked it as to-read
Buddy Read with Mels (who I'll link to later xD)

I'm super excited for this and have a week to finish it so let's see if I can do it !! Still in that Kingdom of Ash slump and it's killing me.

ARC received in Exchange for an Honest Review.
Lesa Divine
Ok I give up. I gave this book way too much of a chance. 240 pages that's a lot out of a 490 something page book. If you looking for some action look somewhere else. Because there's none. The beginning did catch my attention. I felt I liked the main character step mom better. Sad that she was a bitch but she kept me wondering more about her. But other words nonething to keep me interested. Too much of telling and getting to know everyone and their history. I like a slow burn fantasy book I've ...more
Adah Udechukwu
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Empire of Sand started slow, it started really slow. The novel was slow throughout.
Empire of Sand is devoid of action and I love a lot of action .
I tried to love the novel but I couldn't.
Empire of Sand is meant to be a standalone novel.
Why the author made it a series eludes me.
11/25/2019 - My second time reading this literary gem! I really wanted to reread (and tab my physical copy) before diving into its sequel, Realm of Ash, despite it being a standalone novel..

Full review to follow but here are my quick thoughts:

- South Asian culture!!! Hauntingly beautiful desert setting!!! Indian and Hindu influences!!! Phenomenal world-building!!!

- Complex power apparatuses and systems!!! Empire of Sand brilliantly encaptures how Law and Religion work hand-in-hand in maintaining
The Nerd Book Review
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I always say if I stay up late reading a book it’s a 5* and now I’ve done it 2 nights in a row with this one.

The Nerd Book Review

The writing was elegant but not overdone and I immediately got into, and stayed in, that movie in my mind I drone on about so often. I’ve discovered I really want a tale where the writing doesn’t get in the way of telling the story and this achieves that wonderfully.
This novel which is about 80% ish 1 POV of a girl named Mehr who is a sequestered noblewoman whose
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars! It genuinely blew me away - it is one of the BEST romantic fantasy novels I have ever read, and I absolutely devoured it (and will be re-reading it many, many times in the future, too). The politics, the magic and the characters are all so rich and complex, with SO many layers beyond the surface; in all three areas, things that I understood in one way at the beginning surprised me again and again throughout the book as different, richer layers ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
More books like this one, please?

Empire of Sand is a South Asian inspired fantasy. It's Tasha Suri's debut. It follows Mehr, who is a a very interesting character. She's living with her stepmother, forbidden from practising the customs of her mother's culture. The plot takes a while to get going, and the author carefully introduces Mehr's culture, but it led to me struggling to emotionally connect with the protagonist.

The world building in this book is outstanding, but, at least in the
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy, #2)
  • The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons, #1)
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree
  • The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War, #2)
  • The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)
  • The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)
  • The Candle and the Flame
  • Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)
  • The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal, #2)
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow
  • The Raven Tower
  • A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy, #1)
  • Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2)
  • The Bone Ships (The Tide Child, #1)
  • Descendant of the Crane
  • The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy, #1)
See similar books…
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)