counter create hit Secrets of the Sands - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Secrets of the Sands

Availability: Ready to download

Cafad Scratha, a powerful desert lord with a persecution complex, believes everyone is lying to him. When his obsession collides with the king's efforts to rebuild the shattered realm, the orphaned street-thief Idisio and the king's emissary Alyea become pawns in their multilayered game. The secret world into which Idisio and Alyea are drawn will not only change their live Cafad Scratha, a powerful desert lord with a persecution complex, believes everyone is lying to him. When his obsession collides with the king's efforts to rebuild the shattered realm, the orphaned street-thief Idisio and the king's emissary Alyea become pawns in their multilayered game. The secret world into which Idisio and Alyea are drawn will not only change their lives: it will change them. NOTE: This book was originally published through Mercury Retrograde Press; it is currently housed with ReAnimus Press.


Compare
Ads Banner

Cafad Scratha, a powerful desert lord with a persecution complex, believes everyone is lying to him. When his obsession collides with the king's efforts to rebuild the shattered realm, the orphaned street-thief Idisio and the king's emissary Alyea become pawns in their multilayered game. The secret world into which Idisio and Alyea are drawn will not only change their live Cafad Scratha, a powerful desert lord with a persecution complex, believes everyone is lying to him. When his obsession collides with the king's efforts to rebuild the shattered realm, the orphaned street-thief Idisio and the king's emissary Alyea become pawns in their multilayered game. The secret world into which Idisio and Alyea are drawn will not only change their lives: it will change them. NOTE: This book was originally published through Mercury Retrograde Press; it is currently housed with ReAnimus Press.

30 review for Secrets of the Sands

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    A novel I found more or less by chance - the cover (not the one above though as of the day of the review) intrigued me and then I liked the excerpt - which turned out to be a big positive surprise as well as quite different from what I expected. While it starts as a traditional fantasy, it twists and turns quite a lot and it goes into quite unexpected directions. There are two threads: one that follows the semi-exiled desert lord Cafad Scratha and his accidental servant and former street boy Idis A novel I found more or less by chance - the cover (not the one above though as of the day of the review) intrigued me and then I liked the excerpt - which turned out to be a big positive surprise as well as quite different from what I expected. While it starts as a traditional fantasy, it twists and turns quite a lot and it goes into quite unexpected directions. There are two threads: one that follows the semi-exiled desert lord Cafad Scratha and his accidental servant and former street boy Idisio as they try to do a good faith accounting of their mission from new king Oruen to research the history of the northern (non-desert and dominated by an intolerant religion) part of the kingdom until they stumble on unexpected happenings, people, facts and conspiracies that will change a lot what we think we know about the world of the novel. This one is a traditional picaresque adventure to a large extent, though the twists and turns make it quite unpredictable The second one follows Alyea, a young girl of mid-nobility who happens to be a one time lover of the king and current protegee of his but with a dark and violent past in times when the Northern Church was dominant in the capital too and she was branded as a "heretic"; she is sent to administer the Scratha domain in the name of King Oruen; though her two mysterious and seemingly at odds "advisers" Chaq and Micru are supposed to "instruct" her in the way of the desert until another mysterious character, ultra-rich merchant Deiq makes his interest in her known too; this thread is just superb end to end, a thread of exploration, intrigue, magic, initiation rites and much, much more Of course the two threads converge though again not quite in a conventional way and the novel gets to a satisfying conclusion with of course the big picture to be explored further. Secrets of the Sands is also quite dark in an understated way, with a world in which slavery, rape, and killing are facts of life and it all depends on whom does it to whom as "justice" and the "law" are concerned Highly, highly recommended, both a haunting novel and a page turner and an A+ as an average of a solid A thread and an A++ thread

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bastard

    http://bastardbooks.blogspot.com/2011... Secrets of the Sands is Leona Wisoker's debut novel, first of the Children of the Desert series. Book came out last year in 2010, and it's published by Mercury Retrograde Press. Secrets of the Sands was one of my favorite reads last year, and if there's one book out there that I think should be read, or at least tried, by more people it's this one. The most important aspect of this book is that it was quite evident that Leona Wisoker is a very talented and http://bastardbooks.blogspot.com/2011... Secrets of the Sands is Leona Wisoker's debut novel, first of the Children of the Desert series. Book came out last year in 2010, and it's published by Mercury Retrograde Press. Secrets of the Sands was one of my favorite reads last year, and if there's one book out there that I think should be read, or at least tried, by more people it's this one. The most important aspect of this book is that it was quite evident that Leona Wisoker is a very talented and skillful writer. But don't take my word for it since where it really matters, I don't know shit about writing. Yet, when you stumble upon a skillful writer you can just tell they're good. The second most important thing of this book is that once you're done with it, you can tell that a lot of care has been put into it's creation. The paperback felt of high quality, and at the end of the novel the author includes a bunch of extra material to enrich the world building. I don't know if the offer is still there, but when I bought the paperback, it came with an option to "buy" a free electronic copy of the novel, so that should interest some. Don't have much more to say at the moment since I read it last year and the details are quite fuzzy, but here's a better detailed review by Fantasy Book Critic which should be more useful. In all, the book should have something for everyone a bit of action, a bit of romance, some political intrigue, magic, mystery, suspense. And while the plot itself might not work for everyone, I think I can almost guarantee that at the very least you will go away thinking that you read something well crafted in some manner.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    "Secrets of the Sands" is a great adventure story, one of the more entertaining reads I've picked up in awhile. The story follows two main POVs, both of which are entertaining enough that you don't find yourself wishing the author would just switch to the *action* already. The plot is unpredictable, enough so that what the characters think they'll be doing on their journeys is constantly getting screwed up by actual events. There's also a hint of destiny about what's going on, though it's fairly "Secrets of the Sands" is a great adventure story, one of the more entertaining reads I've picked up in awhile. The story follows two main POVs, both of which are entertaining enough that you don't find yourself wishing the author would just switch to the *action* already. The plot is unpredictable, enough so that what the characters think they'll be doing on their journeys is constantly getting screwed up by actual events. There's also a hint of destiny about what's going on, though it's fairly subdued and nothing so irritating as an actual prophecy. I always try to think of something negative about a book (because no book can be perfect) and the main thing that was bothering me about the book was the quality of the villains. They're so... villain-y. They appeared to have no particular reason for doing evil things other than that's just the way they are. Luckily, the motivations of the villains were all resolved by the end of the book, adding complexity to all the characters in a perfectly satisfying way. Plus I love the ending... it's not clear cut, and it isn't easy, but at the same time it isn't completely disheartening either. Great job, Leona! Looking forward to more!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    DNF at 20% , this wasn't the story I expected I thought I would get a desert setting where life is harsh not taverns with all sort of food being severed like pheasant, and have Sultans not kings and nobles in the story but want really annoyed me was the thief boy that the lord employed as his servant the boy with no education telling the lord how to behave in local villages. If you want to read a story set in a desert read the killing moon by N.K. Jemisin.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Hiller

    Leona Wisoker’s Secrets of the Sands unfolds slowly, its layers revealing a rich world full of politics, spirits, obligations, destiny, and duty. From the first page, the reader finds themselves immersed in a world that feels fully realized and much deeper than the events of the story. In fact, the weight and import of history underpins every action in Wisoker’s tale. Better, the characters are not made of cardboard. Even the minor characters have shadow, light, weight, and girth. You empathize Leona Wisoker’s Secrets of the Sands unfolds slowly, its layers revealing a rich world full of politics, spirits, obligations, destiny, and duty. From the first page, the reader finds themselves immersed in a world that feels fully realized and much deeper than the events of the story. In fact, the weight and import of history underpins every action in Wisoker’s tale. Better, the characters are not made of cardboard. Even the minor characters have shadow, light, weight, and girth. You empathize and root for them. You hiss at the unfairness of their predicament and how they are tossed about so unprepared for what is about to befall them. The story takes place on two tracks that inevitably weave together. Normally, I don’t like this mechanism, even though it is a mainstay of fantasy… and to be fair, there were times when I groaned when I had to leave one character’s narrative to resume another. Still, the stories came together in a satisfying way and the way Wisoker crafts the story allows the reader sees the puzzle pieces coming together so the disappointment is minimalized. The story does follow some classic tropes of the genre. The hero is orphaned (actually, from one perspective all three heroes are), he discovers his origin and special nature as the tale unwinds, and is tested. That said, this is not a simple story that follows the heroes’ journey. It thankfully follows its own branch and thread. The only real frustration in Sands for me is that the conclusion of the story felt too much like a set up for the next book. This is mitigated by the fact that the next book is available, but I would have liked this story to conclude with more of a musical crescendo and less of a bridge into the next movement. Overall, I really liked Wisoker’s Secrets of the Sands and I think readers who enjoy epic fantasy ought to give it a shot. I think they will be in for a fun ride, a thoughtful excursion, and an exploration of identity. I’ll gladly continue reading her work and look forward to discovering how are heroes develop. Minor Disclaimer: I received this book as part of an author’s book swap as Mars Con. I didn’t know Leona previous to the event, but did sit on a panel with her. I found her as delightful as her literary work.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    One of my main complaints about epic fantasy is that it's often not character-based enough for my taste, but that wasn't a problem here. There were only two points of view: a street thief who tries to pick a desert lord's pocket and ends up serving him, and a noblewoman sent to take care of that lord's desert fortress while he's away. While I always wanted to read whoever's chapter I just finished reading (and the book switched oh-so-faithfully between the two) I wasn't frustrated with the back One of my main complaints about epic fantasy is that it's often not character-based enough for my taste, but that wasn't a problem here. There were only two points of view: a street thief who tries to pick a desert lord's pocket and ends up serving him, and a noblewoman sent to take care of that lord's desert fortress while he's away. While I always wanted to read whoever's chapter I just finished reading (and the book switched oh-so-faithfully between the two) I wasn't frustrated with the back and forth between POVs because both were enjoyable. I know that introduction is dry, but I don't want to say too much: books are always their own best advertisement. One thing I really liked was the sense that the characters were scarred, but they didn't dwell on it too much. There was a sense of moving past the grisly detail of the past, which I enjoyed. Furthermore, Secrets of the Sands has a theme (plot point?) I love and haven't seen done often enough, but it takes a while to get to it so I don't want to spoil anything. If you're okay with hearing a theme that only really shows up halfway through (though of course it's led up to), here it is: (view spoiler)[Humans not being the first 'intelligent' creatures to inhabit the world, and having to deal with another type of sentient life. (hide spoiler)] It was great to get lost in this world for a while. Very enjoyable book that I'd recommend to any epic fantasy lover. (view spoiler)[Also to people who like finding a random smiley face smushed into the text. What? (hide spoiler)] I'm looking forward to reading the next installment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Bill Blume

    I will preface this review by saying I know the author. I had the pleasure of meeting Leona at RavenCon many years ago where she massaged my cat (I promise, it's not as dirty as it sounds)... but I digress. At the time, I did not even realize Leona was a writer. Years later, I learned of her book SECRET OF THE SANDS being published. Leona was then invited to speak at the James River Writers Conference with which I'm affiliated. Since I knew I'd be moderating a panel with Leona as one of my speaker I will preface this review by saying I know the author. I had the pleasure of meeting Leona at RavenCon many years ago where she massaged my cat (I promise, it's not as dirty as it sounds)... but I digress. At the time, I did not even realize Leona was a writer. Years later, I learned of her book SECRET OF THE SANDS being published. Leona was then invited to speak at the James River Writers Conference with which I'm affiliated. Since I knew I'd be moderating a panel with Leona as one of my speakers, I finally read the book. Reading a book by someone I know is always daunting. The fear is that I'll hate it (sad to say, this has happened to me in the past), and it creates a horribly awkward situation. I quickly discovered I had no reason to worry with Leona. Her book is a great fantasy epic that stands apart from so many. She delivers a world with some uncommonly strong Arabian influences, and the way in which she leads the reader to understand the many foreign cultures is handled very well. Leona hits all the key points for a story of this scope with strong and likable characters, plus a very well-constructed plot. This book also stands on its own, despite being the first book in a series. Just be warned, this is not a thin read. You're in for a hefty book, but this is more of a strength within the fantasy genre.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    When I first started reading Secrets of the Sands I wasn't sure what to think. There was something around page 80 or so that snapped my attention and I literally could not put this book down (I read it while I played computer games, walked and talked it was that bad). The characters were interesting, and the world that Wisoker creates is very detailed and enjoyable to read about.The world is a bit dark at times with drugs, sex and violence but it's the way the world it brought to the reader that When I first started reading Secrets of the Sands I wasn't sure what to think. There was something around page 80 or so that snapped my attention and I literally could not put this book down (I read it while I played computer games, walked and talked it was that bad). The characters were interesting, and the world that Wisoker creates is very detailed and enjoyable to read about.The world is a bit dark at times with drugs, sex and violence but it's the way the world it brought to the reader that really makes it pop throughout the plot. I don't want to spoil anything but I loved how she eventually brought both character POV's to one. The amount of political intrigue really kept me reading. There is a bit of humor at times in this book, but not so much that it's overdone or stale. There were parts where I found myself chucking or laughing. I found myself growing to love and truly care about every single character in this book. It was as if the reader saw the characters grow, and change right before their eyes and that was really fun and amazing. I am proud to say that I will gladly be reading the second book, I wish it were out right now I'd jump right into it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    It started off good for me, but then flagged somewhere later on as it shifted focus more into the realm of science fiction / religious fantasy, and also shifted more focus onto a somewhat dull storyline and a character I felt was somewhat dull (the lady noble). My problem with her character and the related storyline later in the book is that it seemed to me the author was creating a false sense of grandeur and import for the character and the events and people around her, and basically trying to It started off good for me, but then flagged somewhere later on as it shifted focus more into the realm of science fiction / religious fantasy, and also shifted more focus onto a somewhat dull storyline and a character I felt was somewhat dull (the lady noble). My problem with her character and the related storyline later in the book is that it seemed to me the author was creating a false sense of grandeur and import for the character and the events and people around her, and basically trying to make the character seem brave, impressive, special, etc. but I wasn't buying it, I found myself saying, so what, no big deal, not impressed. I guess she was supposed to be a "strong female" because she could face "sexual" and other adversity and she didn't really do anything impressive or anything to earn my respect, for most of this storyline as she was "overcoming obstacles" I was pretty much thinking it was not really a big deal. One more thing, pretty much everyone in this book was sexually abused at some point in their lives. I guess it's potentially realistic enough, and I don't have a problem with that, but it was really so common that it seemed almost humorous to me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    Couldn't finish it. The story and the characters wore out their thin welcome by having having shorthand personalities moving through a boring and seemingly nonsensical plot. A lot appears to rely on pathos and charisma, but the mysterious seem constipated, the charming annoying, the spunky irritating. Rare moments of interest come balanced by bits of active badness, to arrive at a pleasing average of total meh.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mav

    An epic fantasy that actively and frequently addresses matters of sex, gender, sexual violence, consent, and rape culture while giving us a great story with adventure, mystery, suspense, and political intrigue. Plus, the setting in pseudo-medieval Europe! This book needs to be rec'd to every female fantasy reader tired of the same.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This was surprisingly good! Good enough to send me immediately to a library not in my neighborhood to pick up the next in the series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    This was a light and interesting book. I enjoyed the world building and the characters were interesting and readable. In fact the moment I finished the book I was reaching for the second one. Yes the book had some issues, but overall, delicious.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    First half was good, 4 stars. Second half, not so much. The plot began meandering a lot...2 stars. Averaged it out to 3. Could have missed the Alyea parts and just stuck with Idiso to be honest.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Forgottendreamr

    While there was nothing stunning or original, Wisoker managed to sidestep a lot of the cliche pitfalls I was worried about. Good enough that I will probably read the second.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gwennie

    excellent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Song

    I loved it - so much that was different and not a book (or the series) to skim through.

  18. 5 out of 5

    T. Bakutis

    Leona Wisoker’s “Secrets of the Sands” is an excellent traditional fantasy read, and I was surprised by how quickly it caught and held my interest. The world introduced in this book is dangerous and complicated, its politics more so, but Wisoker struck a good balance between moving the plot forward and explaining the intricate political dance of northern kings, desert lords, and inscrutable beings far older than both. I was never confused about why things were happening, nor did I get lost in ex Leona Wisoker’s “Secrets of the Sands” is an excellent traditional fantasy read, and I was surprised by how quickly it caught and held my interest. The world introduced in this book is dangerous and complicated, its politics more so, but Wisoker struck a good balance between moving the plot forward and explaining the intricate political dance of northern kings, desert lords, and inscrutable beings far older than both. I was never confused about why things were happening, nor did I get lost in exposition. Everything was revealed or explained right when it was needed, and never in excess. The two POV characters, Idisio and Alyea, were relatable, interesting, and believably flawed, and the rest of the cast (including Cafad Scratha, Idisio’s mentor, and Deiq, the inscrutable thorn in Alyea’s side) ranged from powerful to mysterious while retaining obvious quirks and weaknesses. The book keeps you guessing (Alyea’s journey, in particular, is a dangerous game of Who Should She Trust) and though it tackles some darker topics (including the inevitable reality of Idisio’s life on the streets) it does so with tact and subtlety that were well thought out. Even the darker elements of the world (and some of them are pretty dark) are never glorified or watered down. They are justified pieces of an interesting story. For my subjective critique, it would say that I did notice the book was sharply separated into two threads—there’s usually an Idisio chapter followed by an Alyea chapter, and so on for the duration, with no real interaction or obvious crossover until near the end. It was not initially clear to me how these two threads were going to intersect (or why I kept hopping back and forth) and I found this a bit off-putting at times. However, the connection and inevitable endgame do become obvious near the end of the book, and once I saw where their two tales would meet, I found myself really looking forward to the climax. I do think I might have enjoyed the book a little more if I’d seen this connection earlier, and if I’d been able to remain with Idisio or Alyea for more than a chapter at a time. As another plus, Wisoker’s prose is extremely clean and easy to read—this is one well written tale. While the first book in the series certainly leaves room for a sequel (cleverly foreshadowed in the final pages) Secrets of the Sands remains a complete story in its own right. I look forward to the next book. In summary, Wisoker’s introduction to her larger “Children of the Sands” series is a well-written, well-paced, and fascinating tale of dangerous politics and subtle magic told through the eyes of two sympathetic and enjoyable POV characters on separate (but eventually intersecting) paths.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    It's a bit nerve-wracking when you read a book by a friend. What will you say if you don't care for it? As I read through the usual slow build of the first hundred pages of an epic fantasy series in Secrets of the Sands, that anxiety was raised. But when the two lead characters--Alyea, a minor noble sent on an errand by King Oruen, and Idisio, a young street thief traveling separately with the mysterious desert lord Cafad Scratha--enter the exotic desert south lands of this book, I knew there wa It's a bit nerve-wracking when you read a book by a friend. What will you say if you don't care for it? As I read through the usual slow build of the first hundred pages of an epic fantasy series in Secrets of the Sands, that anxiety was raised. But when the two lead characters--Alyea, a minor noble sent on an errand by King Oruen, and Idisio, a young street thief traveling separately with the mysterious desert lord Cafad Scratha--enter the exotic desert south lands of this book, I knew there was nothing to worry about. I was reading something good, being transported in the way that I desire when I pick up a fantasy. The characters are strong here. Alyea is plucky, but doesn't cross over into the Mary Sue zone. She has self doubts, but never gets whiny like Robert Jordan's characters did. Scratha is mysterious but not completely impenetrable (a trick many fantasy authors to raise suspense, but at the cost of believable behavior). These are distinct voices written with good balance. Another hallmark of good fantasy for me is that the villains are at least a little sympathetic--you can understand why they might act as they do--and this book succeeds on that level as well. But the best thing about this book is the detailed and unusual climate and society of the desert world, which is brought to life as vividly as that in Frank Herbert's Dune. Whether it's the complex linguistic system, or the intricate set of political rules and social mores that drive the story forward, I found this world compelling and believable. The plot and pacing are also ably handled, with the two strands of the story progressing in ways that connect them satisfyingly but remain separate until the story's culmination. There are plenty of surprising twists to keep things interesting. If you pick up this book, be prepared to pay attention: sometimes the cultural rules or character interrelations are challenging to follow, but then good fantasy is not stupid, it should make you interested enough to sweat the details, and this book does just that. Congratulations Leona, and well done: this is a cut above the average epic fantasy, an impressive entry from little Mercury Retrograde press. I look forward to continuing the saga.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maureen E

    Opening: Hee-ay, hee-ay: the cry of the water-seller in the broad and the narrow places; shass-shass-shass, the warning signal to clear a road for noble blood, be it one or many together...To Idisio's sensitive ears, the cacophony wove a melodic pattern that steered him, unerringly, to the best possible target. Secrets of the Sands is a richly textured fantasy, weaving together the narratives of three main characters, Idisio, Cafad Scratha, and Lady Alyea. The world it inhabits feels full, with p Opening: Hee-ay, hee-ay: the cry of the water-seller in the broad and the narrow places; shass-shass-shass, the warning signal to clear a road for noble blood, be it one or many together...To Idisio's sensitive ears, the cacophony wove a melodic pattern that steered him, unerringly, to the best possible target. Secrets of the Sands is a richly textured fantasy, weaving together the narratives of three main characters, Idisio, Cafad Scratha, and Lady Alyea. The world it inhabits feels full, with political intrigues, geographic and historical splits, divisions between classes. I picked this book up after seeing that Tamora Pierce recommended it and really, really enjoyed it. (Which makes Pierce two for two on her recommendations--The City in the Lake was one of hers as well.) There was nothing outstandingly original about it, but the characters were both fun and sympathetic, and the whole story seemed very solid. I never found myself rolling my eyes, or thinking, "Oh, come on," which makes for a nice change. And the worldbuilding, which is pretty much always important to me, seemed to be not just good, but effortless. I especially enjoyed seeing the contrasts between the different cultures, that at court and that of the desert lords, and the way all three main characters have to chart a tricky course somewhere between the two. It's also a good old fashioned coming-into-power story, with all of the testing and training that implies. While sometimes multiple character narration doesn't work for me, here the fact that it was actually limited third person helped to make the whole story cohesive. And the background of the characters (Idisio is a street thief, Cafad a desert lord, and Alyea a court lady) gave a different flavor and insight into the events. All in all, this was an extremely enjoyable fantasy, combining known elements, but with a special flavor that kept it from feeling boring or derivative. I found it compelling and readable. There's apparently a sequel, which I want to get a hold of. Book source: ILL from my public library Book information: Mercury Retrograde Press, 2009; adult Recommended by: Tamora Pierce

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anne Skelding

    There's a lot to like about this book--solid world building, interesting characters, engaging plot. I couldn't give it less than three stars because some parts of the book were done really well! But there were so many little things that just ruined the whole book for me: 1) Portrayal of mental illness, or rather of "mad" characters. I am so sick of "madness" being used to dismiss characters' actions. Nothing Cafad Scratha does indicates any kind of mental illness. He's certainly impulsive, occasi There's a lot to like about this book--solid world building, interesting characters, engaging plot. I couldn't give it less than three stars because some parts of the book were done really well! But there were so many little things that just ruined the whole book for me: 1) Portrayal of mental illness, or rather of "mad" characters. I am so sick of "madness" being used to dismiss characters' actions. Nothing Cafad Scratha does indicates any kind of mental illness. He's certainly impulsive, occasionally prone to hitting people when angry, and would really like to know who killed his family. There is nothing unstable or obsessive in any of his actions, but the text refers more than once to something like a "mad look in his eyes." Show me, don't tell me! Or better yet, stop using mental illness as a plot device! Furthermore, the kingdom is recovering from the reign of a "mad" tyrant king. I'm even more sick of that trope. Mental illness does not make people into tyrants. The mentally ill are far more likely to be victims, not perpetrators. If a person is predisposed to violence, certain mental illnesses might exacerbate that, but there are other people with the same mental illness who are good people. Anyway, everyone knows that the really scary tyrants are the ones who are completely sane. 2) It seems like all of the characters have a backstory containing sexual assault and/or forced prostitution. ??? Look, these things happen in real life, and I would never say they shouldn't be written about. But what on earth is wrong with you that so many of your characters go through it? According to reviews I've read for the other books, this is a trend that only gets worse later in the series. That's either really disturbing or really uncreative. Can't decide which. 3) Casual misogyny. I can't even remember how many times a woman was referred to as slut/whore. Never the men, of course. In short, there were parts I greatly enjoyed, but many others that were very off-putting. I will not be reading the rest of the books.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Anyone interested in desert themed fantasy stories should probably put this on their reading list. You get a fantasy world made of the lush green lands north of the desert, and then of course a vast golden desert with a culture and ambience all its own. For a fantasy this book has echoes of modern feelings towards sex and gender politics, subjects which are constantly mentioned but not the focal point of the tale. You have a gaggle of sexually aware girls/women of many ages who live under the sc Anyone interested in desert themed fantasy stories should probably put this on their reading list. You get a fantasy world made of the lush green lands north of the desert, and then of course a vast golden desert with a culture and ambience all its own. For a fantasy this book has echoes of modern feelings towards sex and gender politics, subjects which are constantly mentioned but not the focal point of the tale. You have a gaggle of sexually aware girls/women of many ages who live under the scrutiny of a patriarchal and conservative world view. I only mention this because many fantasy tales with sexually open female characters involve some obligatory goddess figure, or some fertility motherhood factor. In this book the brief mentions about woman’s sex was more focused on personal pleasure instead of struggling to attain motherhood or fulfil some coming of age goddess rite. You have a posse of different characters, all somehow open and sexually liberated, but no one is “getting any,” which is fine since this fantasy adventure is not an erotica. This book also has many of the tried and true, somewhat stereotypical fantasy elements that you come to almost expect in a good story: There is traversing the lands on foot or animal, the constant stops at the different quality inns; saucy buxom serving wenches, the mouth watering local inn foods that make you hungry while reading and very amplified class and life quality distinctions. There is the drunk and horny sailors, double dealing political spies and a couple of characters you switch between trusting and not. The story moves ahead chapter by chapter and I appreciate how many naïve and realistically flawed characters grow and come together for a conclusive end of tale, which still leaves you excited for the rest of the series.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leon

    First things first, I finished this book in about two days, so it's definitely not a bad book. But somehow I was disappointed after finishing it. I tried to figure out why by going through the book in my head; The setting is interesting, the world building decent, the characters likable and reasonably well defined for a first book in a series. Then what's the problem you ask? Well, I think it's the fact that nothing actually seems to happen in most of the book and every plot seems to end with a si First things first, I finished this book in about two days, so it's definitely not a bad book. But somehow I was disappointed after finishing it. I tried to figure out why by going through the book in my head; The setting is interesting, the world building decent, the characters likable and reasonably well defined for a first book in a series. Then what's the problem you ask? Well, I think it's the fact that nothing actually seems to happen in most of the book and every plot seems to end with a sizzle or remain open. And in addition, the book feels over condensed in some areas. I feel it would have benefited from another 50 to 100 pages with a little bit more background and a satisfying end to at least one of the larger plots. it's hard to explain without using spoilers, but imagine the first book of the Lord of the Rings cycle without the background on the One Ring, no action scenes and ending just before the fellowship reaches Rivendel. Still a good book, cool characters and a lot of potential, but not quite satisfying. To cut a long story short, I'm giving book 2 a chance because the potential is definitely there, but if that doesn't deliver I'll probably drop the series

  24. 4 out of 5

    M.L. Brennan

    A detailed and fascinating world, political machinations that constantly turn the plot on its head, a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and a very surprising reveal to the magic system that I had not seen coming. There's a nice back-and-forth presentation between the two point-of-view characters, so you bounce between two unfurling narratives. This allowed Wisoker to showcase different aspects of her world and show two very different types of characters -- one begins as a street thief, A detailed and fascinating world, political machinations that constantly turn the plot on its head, a diverse and interesting cast of characters, and a very surprising reveal to the magic system that I had not seen coming. There's a nice back-and-forth presentation between the two point-of-view characters, so you bounce between two unfurling narratives. This allowed Wisoker to showcase different aspects of her world and show two very different types of characters -- one begins as a street thief, the other as a privileged lady of the king's court. It was a very good mixture. There are a lot of very good plot payoffs in the last third of the book. One of the few missteps of the narrative was a few too many instances of seeming coincidence at the beginning -- but that worked itself out very well at the end, and I really enjoyed how things eventually shook out. I really enjoyed reading Secrets of the Sands, and now I'm looking forward to the next in the series to see where Alyea and Idisio (the POV characters of this book) and the other fascinating characters go to next.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Yune

    A thief tries to pick the pocket of a desert lord and finds himself accompanying him on his banishment; a noble woman is chosen as regent for his desert fortress. Perhaps because it's the first in the series, it's very much a story of self-discovery for each of these characters, amidst a backdrop of desert legends and political scheming. Quite pleasant for a debut; both a good sense of depth (of world-building, particularly culture) and a focus on characters whom it's easy to fall in beside as th A thief tries to pick the pocket of a desert lord and finds himself accompanying him on his banishment; a noble woman is chosen as regent for his desert fortress. Perhaps because it's the first in the series, it's very much a story of self-discovery for each of these characters, amidst a backdrop of desert legends and political scheming. Quite pleasant for a debut; both a good sense of depth (of world-building, particularly culture) and a focus on characters whom it's easy to fall in beside as they set off on their journeys. I was even fine with the alternating POVs. A bit plagued by some coincidences and otherwise convenient plot points or character reactions (one girl struck me as rather unnecessary, and someone else really needed to be more outraged about being assaulted), but surprisingly quite solid despite these flaws. Bonus points for having a myth told within the story that I liked (most of these bore me). I'm looking forward to the next one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Heise

    I first heard about this from the author, Leona Wisoker, at Darkover. She's a lively and interesting speaker, so I sought her work out. It took me a bit to get into it-- I think I read the first chapters 3 or 4 times-- but once well-launched into the stories of the former thief and the desert lord-- and the parallel story of the noble lady sent to hold the desert lord's land while he is given an assignment by the king-- I was captured. Though there's parallels at the beginning of this book with I first heard about this from the author, Leona Wisoker, at Darkover. She's a lively and interesting speaker, so I sought her work out. It took me a bit to get into it-- I think I read the first chapters 3 or 4 times-- but once well-launched into the stories of the former thief and the desert lord-- and the parallel story of the noble lady sent to hold the desert lord's land while he is given an assignment by the king-- I was captured. Though there's parallels at the beginning of this book with works of Megan Turner Whaler and Sharon Shinn, the story turns out to be much more complicated and original than one expects. I definitely felt like the world was well-realized, but with bits and pieces that we didn't learn because they weren't with part of the topic. The characters were complex, and many of them admirable. Plot twists and turns left me surprised. And.. well, I think I love Cafad.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Luisa نور

    An unexpected and very good surprise ... Printing/Editing problems, yes, and maybe some rewriting here and there would be good : - to make the story less dense, so that we could take the time to discover places and their history, the impressions given by different cities, the characters ... Appreciate the whole thing even more, - avoid too many "glowering stares" and such repetitive phrases. But overall, it's very much pleasant to read a 'desert' fantasy that doesn't fall into the classic oriental An unexpected and very good surprise ... Printing/Editing problems, yes, and maybe some rewriting here and there would be good : - to make the story less dense, so that we could take the time to discover places and their history, the impressions given by different cities, the characters ... Appreciate the whole thing even more, - avoid too many "glowering stares" and such repetitive phrases. But overall, it's very much pleasant to read a 'desert' fantasy that doesn't fall into the classic orientalistic pits (such as Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle and many others sadly does very quickly). Thought-out, balanced, interesting ... I'm getting the next volumes right now, hoping it's as good or even better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kaylee

    It's rare I actually would describe a book as "amazing", but I really, thoroughly enjoyed this one. Completely engaging with multiple main characters (and the promise of some of the lesser characters becoming more fleshed out in the future). The world Wisoker created is no less compelling than her characters -- just enough magical aspects to turn it into a fantasy novel, but drawing on enough of the world we know to make it seem real. Also? I loved that I was unsure how to feel about each charact It's rare I actually would describe a book as "amazing", but I really, thoroughly enjoyed this one. Completely engaging with multiple main characters (and the promise of some of the lesser characters becoming more fleshed out in the future). The world Wisoker created is no less compelling than her characters -- just enough magical aspects to turn it into a fantasy novel, but drawing on enough of the world we know to make it seem real. Also? I loved that I was unsure how to feel about each character. Normally I'm not a fan of that, but somehow she accomplished the very difficult task of making me constantly question who I was rooting for. Can't wait to read more from her!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Excellent fantasy novel--original with wonderful world-building and fascinating multi-faceted characters who almost walk off the page into your room. Author has created multiple rich cultures and back-history, with beauty, squalor, pain and humor throughout the story. Highly recommended to all epic-fantasy fans. Smaller scale than Song of Ice and Fire series but the politics, culture, machinations, and characters will likely appeal to those fans, as well as to readers wanting something just a lit Excellent fantasy novel--original with wonderful world-building and fascinating multi-faceted characters who almost walk off the page into your room. Author has created multiple rich cultures and back-history, with beauty, squalor, pain and humor throughout the story. Highly recommended to all epic-fantasy fans. Smaller scale than Song of Ice and Fire series but the politics, culture, machinations, and characters will likely appeal to those fans, as well as to readers wanting something just a little off the beaten track of the fantasy genre, with more political and psychological jockeying than violence.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Neida

    The story is definitely original and the writing is quite good. There are great concepts woven into the plot but the characters seemed too two dimensional to me and failed to move me. All Scratha does is glower, Aleya seems to go through the motions without knowing really why and Riss...well...she's just there, following the others. The only character that seemed interesting to me was Idisio. At this point, I will put the rest of the series on hold until I'm in a better frame of mind to give thi The story is definitely original and the writing is quite good. There are great concepts woven into the plot but the characters seemed too two dimensional to me and failed to move me. All Scratha does is glower, Aleya seems to go through the motions without knowing really why and Riss...well...she's just there, following the others. The only character that seemed interesting to me was Idisio. At this point, I will put the rest of the series on hold until I'm in a better frame of mind to give this trilogy another try.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.