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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

When gunslinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.…

Overall Book Review:

One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.  Good versus evil births a reluctant leader.  This is the third book in the Rebel of the Sands series.  Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton is the culmination of the series where the Rebellion has been fighting for their homeland. 

Weighing in at 454 pages, there is a lot that can be said about this book.  Action-packed is one.  The first half is a little slow, however, as the narrator and main character struggles to find herself and face the reality of her calling and her future.  Rebellions are ugly, people die, and friends are lost.  Then, our main character has a turning point, and that’s when the story really takes off and is easy to devour. 

Being the third book in the series, there are many characters to keep up with but thankfully, at the beginning there is a “Cast of Characters”, and it is helpful if you haven’t read the first two.  Since our characters do a lot of traveling within their country, it’s also nice to see a map included.  The majority of the characters are older teens and young adults.  With a strong female lead, this book could be a great inspiration for any young women who are inspired by strength, integrity, and honesty.  And, along with a Sultan comes many princes.  The author has focused on a few that lead by good examples.  They are shining illustrations of strong men who are raised to uphold the law and live with the utmost integrity to lead their people.  

Magic, mythical creatures, and shapeshifters appear throughout the book but not in an overwhelming way.  It’s not a Harry Potter kind of magic but rather people who are half-human and half descendants of immortal beings.  Their children were born with power.  Although there is a fair bit of violence in this rebellion, the author has done a beautiful job of writing in a way that is age appropriate for younger readers with enough detail for older readers to enjoy. 

The first two books in the series are Rebel of the Sands and Traitor to the Throne.  Although reading them is not necessary to understand or enjoy book three, they might fill in a few details.  As good as Hero at the Fall is, books one and two look very promising.

Review of an Advance Reader Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Viking Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 1 religious exclamation; 31 mild obscenities. 

Violence/Gore:  Teen has a nightmare of several people who died violent deaths, some blood and gore (bullets, fire, & beheading); people burned or incinerated if they got too close to a magical fire source; man with powers has burned several people to death & leveled cities; man shot with a bullet, some blood, not gory; mention of a man who lost his leg and has a prosthetic; mention of a man previously killed and turned into something used for evil; people trapped by magic; woman remembers a time when somebody tries to strangle her; teen girl shoots a woman; woman taken captive; mention of people who have died in war; a man threatens to kill girls; 3 young teen girls murdered; 4 men beat another man to death; discussion of killing a woman and returning her dead; rumor that a woman magically made a man crazy; woman previously had fingers cut off; woman kills 3 other women; a man shot to be put out of his misery; a girl set herself on fire; teen girl dreams of ways to kill a man; teen girl threatens to shoot a man for a sexual comment; man and teen girl discuss punishment for deserting the Army (hung or beheading); teen girl recalls taking care of 2 men after being shot, some blood; man says poor farmer’s sons are cannon fodder; man and teen girl are in a gun fight, they make a bomb; a leader takes a woman hostage with intent to kill her; teen girl holds a knife to a woman’s neck; an illusion of a woman hung to death; woman shot by a teen girl so she won’t be taken hostage; teen girl remembers as a child when 2 were people shot, & a woman hung by invaders; group of people find half buried bodies, partly eaten, not gory; group of people have guns pointed at their heads; a young man is dying of a disease; a myth that a man is being held prisoner below a mountain; teen girl speculates that a hungry army might have captured a group of people (implied cannibalism); mythical creatures attack people and kill, some gore (3 pages long); man is shot by a firing squad; woman is held captive and has seen people burn alive, no gory details; mention of a woman who was previously executed and bled out; aunt points a gun at her relative and threatens to shoot her; teen girl remembers many times when her aunt was verbally and physically abusive to her; a man burns people alive several times (some remembered from before and some currently); teen girl punches man in face; people chained together and forced to do hard labor in a mine; man incinerated because he became weak; man burned, dies, not gory, some mention of burns; a man gets a bloody nose; a teen girl remembers as a child when a soldier drug a man from his home and shot him; a group of soldiers are burned and killed; a girl drank a poisoned drink; man drinks poison; soldiers destroyed by fire, mention of dead but not gory; man is captured and incinerated; teen girl and man are killed by knife, bloody; a long battle (several pages) with death but no gory details; a leader who killed people; an attempt on a woman’s life by an assassin; woman kills man. 

Sex/Nudity:  Older teen girl and young man kiss often; older teen girl and young man kiss and cuddle, sleep in same bed but with clothes on; older teen girl is asked how much she would cost (implied for sex); aunt accuses older teen girl of running off with a man to be his mistress, tells her to go back to her whorehouse; man kisses older teen girl, not sexual; older teen girl and young man share a steamy night together, touching, kissing, and implied sex, not overly descriptive but very passionate; man kisses woman.

Mature Subject Matter:

War, invading armies, revolution, weapons (real and fictional), death of parents, death, execution of people, murder, shape shifters, magic, cannibalism (implied).

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink alcohol in a bar; man is getting drunk in a bar; man and older teen girl take a drink of alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Reading a good adventure story has always been a vacation in the theater of my mind. When I’m stressed or just need to get away for a few minutes, I love the opportunity to climb into somebody else’s world. I didn’t enjoy reading until I was in the Air Force and building bombs in Korea; it was a wonderful distraction from the real world. (I tried bull riding, but it wasn’t exciting enough.)