Excerpt from Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Empire of Sand

The Books of Ambha

by Tasha Suri

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri X
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
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  • Published:
    Nov 2018, 496 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Print Excerpt

“There’s not?”

“No,” Mehr said firmly. “I’m going to make it go away.”


“For a long while, yes.”


“It isn’t important.”

“I need to know,” Arwa insisted. “What if another one comes and you’re not here? How will I make it go away then?”

I’ll always be here, thought Mehr. But of course that was a lie. She could promise no such thing. She looked into her sister’s teary eyes and came, abruptly, to a decision. “Come with me now, Arwa. I’ll show you.”

One of the maidservants made a sound of protest, quickly hushed. Nahira gave her a narrow look, her grip on Arwa still deathly tight.

“She won’t approve,” warned Nahira.

“If my stepmother asks, say I forced you,” Mehr told her. She touched light fingers to Arwa’s shoulders. “Please, Nahira.”

“I imagine Lady Maryam will draw her own conclusions,” Nahira said dryly. She let Arwa go. “She doesn’t think highly of you, my lady.”

“Oh, I know,” said Mehr. “Come on now, Arwa. You can carry the lamp.”

The nursery was undisturbed. The living room was lit, candlelight flickering on the bright cushions and throws strewn across the marble floor. Arwa’s bedroom, in the next room along, was dark.

The guardswoman trailed in reluctantly behind them. Her hand was fixed firmly on her scabbard.

“There’s no need for this, my lady,” the guardswoman said. “Lady Arwa simply had a nightmare. I’m sure of it.”

“Are you?” Mehr replied mildly.

The guardswoman hesitated, then said, “I told Lady Arwa’s nursemaid and the maidservants that daiva don’t exist, that they should tell her so, but …” She paused, glancing uneasily at Mehr’s face. “The Irin are superstitious.”

Mehr returned her look.

This one, she thought, has not been in Irinah long.

“I ran into the room as soon as she screamed,” said the guard, pressing on despite Mehr’s pointed silence. “I saw nothing.”

Ignoring her, Mehr nudged Arwa gently with her foot.

“Go on, love. Show me where it is.”

Arwa took in another deep breath and stood straight, mustering up her courage. Then she went into her bedroom. Mehr followed close behind her, the guardswoman still hovering at her back.

“There,” Arwa said, pointing. “It’s moved. On the window ledge.”

Mehr looked up and found the daiva already watching her.

Pale dawn was coming in through the window lattice at its back. Silhouetted against it, the daiva was a wisp of taloned shadows, its wings bristling darkly against a backdrop of gray-gold light. It was small for a daiva, no larger than Arwa, with nothing human in the shape of its face or in the lidless glare of its golden eyes.

“Stay where you are, Arwa,” Mehr said. “Just lift the lamp higher.”

Mehr walked toward it—slowly, so as not to startle it from its perch. The daiva’s eyes followed her with the constancy of prayer flames.

Three floors above the ground, behind heavily guarded walls, nothing should have been able to reach Arwa’s chambers. But daiva didn’t obey the rules of human courtesy, and there were no walls in Jah Irinah that could keep them out of a place they wanted to be. Still, Mehr’s gut told her this daiva was not dangerous. Curious, perhaps. But not dangerous.

Just to be sure, she held her hands in front of her, arms crossed, her fingers curled in a sigil to ward against evil. The daiva didn’t so much as flinch. Good.

Excerpted from Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. Copyright © 2018 by Tasha Suri. Excerpted by permission of Orbit. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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