If you enjoyed the court and desert settings of Jade Fire Gold, and are looking for a similar story to read, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend Joyce Chua’s Land of Sand and Song!
First and foremost, one thing the synopsis doesn’t mention is that Desert Rose is not our only point of view! We’re treated to two more perspectives throughout the story and each character has their own agenda. I’ll talk about Desert Rose and the second point of view only within this review, save you a little surprise for when you pick this up!
Desert Rose is the daughter of her clan’s Chieftain, and very early on he’s usurped by other members of the clan, leading Rose to have to go on the run to protect herself. She didn’t count on bumping into the second point of view we’re introduced to, Wei, who’s quickly introduced as a mysterious, yet clearly quite caring character (I might have loved him a little, more Wei would be awesome).
Her motive quickly becomes revenge as she discovers the Emperor is connected to what happened within her clan, and conveniently she ends up in an assassin school within his own palace! This is pretty much where things got very interesting very quickly, about 70 pages into the book, as Rose befriends a fellow sassy former desert clan girl called Windshadow. I loved Windshadow’s character, from the beginning she’s quick to defend Rose and make things easier for her within the school.
Magic-wise, the Emperor has already been on a mission to rid Capital of all magic, be it those who can manipulate the elements or turn into various animals. But, like most in power he’s a little bit of a hypocrite and is after a magical spring.
I won’t say much about the magic when it comes to any main characters, but it’s a satisfying trickle of magic that was genuinely a treat to read about, and I can’t wait for the next book to see more of how it works into the story!
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Land of Sand and Song Paperback – 31 August 2021
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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-yearold 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.
'Joyce spins an enchanting tale of magic, vengeance and romance in this new Asian fantasy world. Land of Sand and Song is brilliantly written with compelling characters, and you'll find it hard to put down this book once you pick it up.' -- Leslie W ― author of The Night of Legends
About the Author
Joyce graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in English and her contemporary YA novel, LAMBS FOR DINNER, was published by the Straits Times Press in 2013 as part of a nationwide competition. She lives in the perennially sunny island-city of Singapore, where she co-runs and publishes her short stories at Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand and blogs at The Writes of Passage in between writing her next novel and dreaming about mythical worlds.
- Language : English
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9814954152
- ISBN-13 : 978-9814954150
- Reading age : 12 - 17 years
- Best Sellers Rank: 19,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
5 out of 5
2 global ratings
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Top reviews from other countries
Fans of East Asian-inspired fantasies need to read this!Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 19 July 2022
Fabulous Young Adult Fantasy!Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 4 February 2022
I LOVED this book, it has brilliant world-building, twists and turns, intrigue and so many characters to fall in love with. If you like East Asian-inspired settings, palace politics, and assassins, you will enjoy this. The romance is subtle but absolutely had me turning the pages, and I loved the way the plot thickened and unfolded all the way up to the end! I cannot wait for the sequel!