Time for desert magic, court politics, assassins, and scheming royals!
Land of Sand and Song by Joyce Chua is one of those classic YA fantasies that is fast-paced and action packed, and slips in all the fun tropes and character dynamics. I also really enjoyed how it was a quick read but still honed in on creating an Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with history and gorgeous mythology and culture. I loved when they paused to talk about lore and magic 😍 it just really made the world so much deeper.
There was no question about it. He owed his life to Desert Rose. They had crossed paths and crossed swords, and their fates had led them both to the palace. He couldn’t leave her to fend for herself now, after everything.
The story follows Desert Rose who must flee for her life after her tribe springs a coup on her chieftain father. Desert Rose swears she’ll find where they’ve taken him — even if it’s the infamous capital, Oasis City, which is hard to get into and harder still to stay alive while you’re there. But with some help from not one but TWO princes 👀👌🏻 Desert Rose ends up in the city and joining the emperor’s assassins where she trains in the House of Night — only she doesn’t intend to work for the emperor. She wants to kill him for the part he plays in destroying her tribe and plotting to steal the magical spring the desert works hard to keep hidden. There’s also a TON of court politics here, as we get chapters from both Wei and Meng, two of the Emperor’s sons — except Meng is favoured and Wei is a bastard prince in exile. Look, I have to say I love backstabby court political plot lines, and while this was pretty straight forward in terms of good vs evil, I was keen to see how far everyone would go. Also very much liked Wei!! He is scholarly and several times was just like “I don’t want the throne but the rest of you are all doing a real bad job of ruling.” 😂
Desert Rose is a very fierce YA heroine, tough and distrustful of new people, but also loyal to her family and tribe. She also is hiding a mysterious past + you know there’s going to be some magic happening there 👀👀 The assassin plot line includes a few training scenes, and it all moves along very fast. I did love her friendship with Windshadow too! The book also tackles classism, as Desert Rose is seen as lesser from being illiterate and from the wilds, while the capital girls always have an advantage in class.
If you like books like Rebel of the Sands, Tiger At Midnight, The Oath Breaker’s Shadow & Spin the Dawn, you’ll like this!
She had grown up on these shifting sands. Papa used to tell her that the desert was magical. It can take you anywhere your heart desires. But if you have no direction in mind, Fate can easily sweep you away.
IN THIS BOOK YOU’LL FIND…
- assassin training and schools
- exiled princes
- fast-paced plot that keeps you on your toes
- classic YA style adventures
- court politics and devious royals
- murder mysteries
- hidden magic
- fantasy mythology and lore
- stabby girl x scholarly boy
An exciting and fun fantasy romp that leaves you rooting for the fierce and kind protagonists. It begs for a sequel!!
Thanks to the author for sending me an ARC! Out August, 2021.
Legend has it that a magical spring lies dormant in the heart of the Khuzar desert. Said to be a gift from the gods, the spring holds the cure to all mortal woes.
As mercenaries from everywhere try in vain to find the mystical spring, 17-year-old Desert Rose is on the run after her chieftain father is overthrown and captured by rebel clans. Now out for revenge, she sets out alone to the Oasis Capital to assassinate the person instigating the rebellion: the corrupt Emperor Zhao, who will stop at nothing to possess the elixir of life from the spring.
To infiltrate the Imperial Guard, Desert Rose must pass a series of trials to test her wit, mettle, and her loyalty. But the real test lies in navigating the cut throat court politics with no ally but a rogue prince and a latent magic stirring in her – magic that can bring a kingdom to its knees or destroy her from within.
LAND OF SAND AND SONG is the first of an East Asian-inspired series.