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    an engaging fantasy with strong magic elements

    I’m an absolute sucker for fantasies set in desert cultures, even more so for stories that explore religion and deity-focused magic, and Desert Rising did not disappoint. Grant creates such a vibrant culture and a diverse cast of characters. The story is told from the perspective of twins Sulis, bound to a life serving the One from the Temple at Illian, and Kadar, a dashing young merchant who would rather travel the world that sit trapped in the city. Between these two main characters, we get to explore the life of the temple pledges as Sulis tries to elicit change from within the Temple that cast out her own mother, and with Kadar, the underground movement to free the Forsaken from slavery. Both characters have their own struggles and victories, and their stories weave around each other to create an engaging tale of love, magic, and friendship in the face of a corrupted society, rife with danger and tragedy for those who dare to fight against it. I loved the different aspects of magic in the story—the channeling of the deities’ powers through their Voices and their chosen servants, the bonding with the feli, and the use of mind-magic through the geas. The magic is at times subtle, and other times, a grandiose display, and it’s woven into the characters’ lives and the story with such elegance, without being an ultimate force that solves everyone’s problems. While the gods may be pulling the strings and bestowing their power as they see fit, the characters are the ones who act, inciting change in a world steeped in tradition and superstition, perhaps even in the gods themselves. I look forward to the next novel in Grant’s Desert Rising series and hope to see more of the characters I came to love in the first book. I would recommend the novel to anyone who likes explorations of fantastic religions, fantasies with a Middle Eastern vibe, and engaging character-centric plots. It was a highly entertaining read that kept me up way past my bedtime.
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