The Books of Ambha by Tasha Suri

by - October 01, 2020


Empire of Sand

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda. Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance.


I struggle to write this review because I don't think there are words that could really describe the experience I had with this book. It was so unbelievably intricate and unique. Every page was bursting with traditions, cultures, world-building, and imagination. Paired with Tasha's extraordinary writing abilities, I was completely and wholeheartedly enthralled by Mehr's story. Rife with heartache and determination, Mehr's journey is a long one but oh so rewarding in the end.

Right from the start, we're introduced to a strong protagonist that is only looking to find a home where she can be her true Amrithi self. After choosing to free herself from her father and step-mother's shadows, Mehr makes a decision that alters the course of her journey in Ambha. Swept away by the divine Maha, Mehr is forced to enter an arranged marriage and live out her life in servitude to those who wish to misuse her heritage and abilities.

Once we overcome the initial world-building and slow start, this story takes off and doesn't give you a moment to catch your breath. Mehr's determination is palpable on almost every page and you can't help but want her to find the freedom she deserves. But while Tasha was successful in crafting a strong protagonist, she also didn't hold back when it came to the villain of this story. The feeling of despair and fear Mehr experienced whenever she was in the presence of the Maha lept off the page and seized me in an endless loop of absolute hatred. 

While I appreciate Tasha's ability to write a scary villain, I somehow wanted more from this character. Not in cruelty but in history. What was the Maha's story? How he had become the being that he is today? I felt like if I had more information to go on, I'd better understand his cruelty and end goal, especially since he plays an intricate part in the second book.

Realm of Ash

The fate of an empire rests in the hands of a young woman with magical blood and nothing left to lose, and an outcast prince determined to save his family at any cost, in this "dark, melodious, and memorable" new fantasy (Library Journal, starred review) from the author of the award-winning Empire of Sand.

The Ambhan Empire is crumbling. A terrible war of succession hovers on the horizon. The only hope for peace lies in the mysterious realm of ash, where mortals can find what they seek in the echoes of their ancestors' dreams. But to walk there requires a steep price.

Arwa is determined to make the journey. Widowed by a brutal massacre, she's pledged service to the royal family and will see that pledge through to the end. She never expected to be joined by Zahir, the disgraced, illegitimate prince who has turned to forbidden magic in a desperate bid to save those he loves.

Together, they'll walk the bloody path of their shared past. And it will call into question everything they've ever believed...including whether the Empire is worth saving at all.


This book was a tough one. After reading Empire of Sand through the night, I was thrilled about diving into the second book. Set ten years after the first book's events, we're thrown into a new version of Ambha that doesn't involve slave rulers and magic. Instead, we're introduced to the court system and thrown to the wolves. 

I love a good court-inspired book but this one just took too long to get to the point. By the time I got to the part of the book that actually moved the story along, I already passed the halfway point and was well on my way to the finale.

Maybe it was the dramatic time shift or the introduction of a new protagonist but Realm of Ash just didn't hit that same high as the first book. Empire of Sand was already a slow book but I blame this on first book world-building. Because of this, I didn't expect so much world-building to be introduced in the second book. Even more disappointing was the fact that nearly everything I read just felt like it was taken out of the first book.

However, despite the slow reading, I did enjoy the expansion of the magic system. The realm of ash took the "dreamscape" trope and turned it into something new and interesting. In addition to the realm of ash, I also thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in the royal court. The customs are so different and Tasha did an excellent job of capturing the details of the traditions in this book. I also found that her ability to immerse the reader dazzled during these moments.

Final Thoughts

In both the Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash, the writer's ability to create loving and gentle relationships is inspiring. Angst in a relationship is always welcomed but there's just something about reading pure love stories. In this harsh and cruel world, there was just no need for arguments and misunderstandings. Instead, reading the rare love scenes felt like coming home after a hard day. The presence of both our character's significant others instantly soothed the story and gave the reader some much-needed reprieve.

This lush and diverse world was heartbreaking to read about but the absolute imagination it offered was well worth it. Our protagonists are strong-willed women that have both lived two very different lives, giving you a chance to see both sides of the coin. I loved the romance and the gentle relationships that emerged from connections you never expected. It's extremely slow at times but the richness of this world and story will leave you gasping for more.

Empire of Sand: 4/5 stars.
Realm of Ash: 3/5 stars.

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