Published: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 544 (Paperback)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In this standalone fantasy, a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.
Life, death, and rebirth—in Becar, everyone knows that who you are in this life will determine what you are in your next life. The augurs can read your fate in your aura: hawk, heron, tortoise, jackal, human. Armed with that knowledge, you can change your destiny with the choices you make, both in this life and your next. But for the darkest individuals, there is no redemption: you come back as a kehok, a monster, and you will always be a kehok for the rest of time.
Unless you can win the Races.
As a professional trainer, Tamra was an elite kehok rider. Then a tragic accident on the track shattered her confidence, damaged her career, and left her nearly broke. Now Tamra needs the prize money to prevent the local temple from taking her daughter away from her, and that means she must once again find a winning kehok . . . and a rider willing to trust her.
Raia is desperate to get away from her domineering family and cruel fiancé. As a kehok rider, she could earn enough to buy her freedom. But she can’t become good enough to compete without a first-rate trainer.
Impressed by the inexperienced young woman’s determination, Tamra hires Raia and pairs her with a strange new kehok with the potential to win—if he can be tamed.
But in this sport, if you forget you’re riding on the back of a monster, you die. Tamra and Raia will work harder than they ever thought possible to win the deadly Becaran Races—and in the process, discover what makes this particular kehok so special.
I unexpectedly LOVED this book! I picked it up one Sunday morning just to pass the time and ended up finishing it that afternoon. I basically didn’t move for six hours because I desperately needed to know how it would end.
Race the Sands is one of the rare standalone fantasy books in a sea of series. Sometimes it’s wonderful to know you’re about to read an entire story contained in a single book and you won’t have to wait for a sequel or end with a nasty cliff hanger. It’s set in the desert empire of Becar, where you’re reincarnated when you die and how you live your life determines your next form. The worst of the worst come back as kehoks, which are brute monsters, often chimera-like in nature. Some of them are captured and trained as mounts for the famed and deadly Becaran Races. The rider of the kehok will win fame and fortune and the winning kehok will win an amulet that will make them human in their next life.
Tamra was a former champion kehok rider, but after an injury she can no longer ride and must instead train those who wish to ride. Or rather, she coddles the children of wealthy families so that they might gain some status. They’re certainly not cut out to ride the kehoks because they don’t have the will or mental fortitude. Tamra is given one last chance by her employer and she purchases a kehok whose form is that of a black scaled lion. Raia sees Tamra in the market and begs to be taken on as a trainee, so that she may ride and win her way free of her manipulative parents. So begins a desperate journey to train Raia and the kehok so that they might win the Becaran Races. There’s more to all of these characters than first meets the eye.
This was an absolutely wild ride, no pun intended and I loved every single page of it! I love when a story takes you by surprise and sweeps you off your feet – it’s not a feeling I have often, where I hate to put down a book for even a minute. The main characters were all fascinating, but the side characters were just as engaging. Tamara’s daughter was a delight, the augurs varied from honorable to awful, and the prince was a rather diverting POV as well. I really can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book, even after some time has passed and my enthusiasm has returned to a reasonable level. In short, you should definitely check this out!