Review of paperback book Hero at the Fall – Book 3 of The Rebel of the Sands trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton #Brainfluffbookreview #HeroattheFallbookreview


I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series – read my review of Rebel of the Sands here. So I was keen to see how Hamilton wraps up this entertaining Sand and Sorcery adventure.

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.

What I’ve really enjoyed throughout this twisting, roller-coaster adventure in Amani’s first- person narrative, is the way her character has continued to grow and develop. She can look back at that gun-toting girl, desperate to escape a dead-end existence with some disgust and amazement – the way we often do when we look back at our own lives. Not that she has much time to ponder all that much – except how to get herself and her dwindling band of rebels out of the next awful bind they find themselves in.

Hamilton has a pleasing knack of tipping our feisty heroine from one disaster to another, while steadily upping the stakes. This gives the book a punchy, page-turning pace that meant it was very difficult to put this one down – except when I wanted to surface, gasp some sand-free air, before plunging right back into the maelstrom that is the final book in this series.

I kept waiting for the pace to slacken off… for Amani to have some sort of breathing space while she recollected herself and those around her fighting for freedom – and laying down their lives. What knocked the wind out of me was that characters I’d grown to like actually died. Reminding me that people who rebel against the status quo generally pay a very high price – in many cases, the ultimate price.

There were short, intervening chapters after a major event, where we were pulled out of Amani’s head into an omniscient narrator reciting what stories were told about it in times to come. Initially, I was a bit fed up as I’m not a fan of omniscient narration. But by the end, I found I was thankful for the lull and enjoyed the sense of historical impact this desperate struggle was having. As for the ending – yes, it worked. And make no mistake – this is a very big deal. Hamilton is building towards the major confrontation from the first page, so it has to matter and be sufficiently surprising, thrilling and engrossing to justify all those hair-raising escapades along the way. A suitable ending to an outstanding fantasy series that has lodged in my memory despite reading hundreds of other books along the way.

Recommended for fans of sand and sorcery adventures with a strong Eastern flavour in the writing – but whatever you do, don’t start with Hero at the Fall – first enjoy Rebel of the Sands.

16 responses »

  1. Oh, AWESOME review, Sarah! And spoiler-free, too! GREAT job! 🙂

    I love the way you describe Amani and her narration. Yes, these two things were probably the most appealing elements of the novel, but they share first place with all the excitement! And what characterizations! I LOVE all the characters!! (Except the evil ones, lol.) And yes, it was hard when some of them died…. 😦

    I’ve only read the first book — “Rebel of the Sands”, but I do own all three. So I just have to continue!

    The one thing that ticked me off about the hardcover editions is that the publisher switched the cover image style with the second book. Oh, how I HATE it when publishers do this in the middle of a series or trilogy!!! I have the hardcover of the first book. For books 2 and 3, I bought the paperbacks, and made sure to order them from The Book Depository. But then I had one hardcover and two paperbacks, lol. So I went ahead and ALSO bought the paperback of “Rebel of the Sands”. I just HAD to have all matching book cover styles!! LOL. I’m picky like that.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful reading experience!! CHEERS!! ❤ 🙂

    • Yes… I dislike it when publishers abruptly change covers, too. Thank you so much for your kind comments about the review – it was a bit of a challenge to ensure I didn’t give away elements of the plot, but I highly recommend both book 2 and this one. Hamilton has been clever in changing where each one takes place to give plenty of variety between each book, which I enjoyed. I look forward to hearing what you make of the other two books and whether you go on loving this series as much as I do, Maria:)x

  2. I always hope that all those seemingly great YA series will be made into adult books, but I know it unfortunately doesn’t work like this.
    Thank you for your review, Sarah – at least I can enjoy it if I can’t enjoy the book. 🙂

    • I’ll be honest – the only way that I knew this one was a YA read was because it said so… Yes, it is in first person pov; yes, there is a romance – but the story is also quite gritty and I love the different directions it takes throughout the three books.

      • I don’t mind well-done romance (though I haven’t seen much of my perception of “well-done” in YA), and books don’t have to be very gritty for me to enjoy them, but the biggest problem I have with YA is the characters’ age. I don’t mind younger characters (“Prince of Thorns”, for example), but immature behavior and bad decisions coming from emotional knee jerks are huge turn offs for me (especially if they are excused or glorified), and if I can admire/root for the main characters, I’m not going to enjoy the books much. And then, on top of that, can come things that I don’t really enjoy regardless of the target age group.

      • With the grandchildren growing like weeds – one is already a teenager – it’s a genre I like to keep in touch with, though only the sci fi/fantasy offshoot.

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