Book 1 of the Children of the Desert series.
A THIEF CHOOSES THE WRONG VICTIM.
A DESERT LORD ABANDONS HIS LANDS.
A YOUNG WOMAN ACCEPTS A STEWARDSHIP.
THEY ALL FIND THEIR DESTINY ON THE SANDS.
When Cafad Scratha was a child, someone murdered his entire family. People have questioned his sanity ever since. As the last Scratha, he's dedicated his life to catching the murderers. Now a desert lord, one of the mysterious elite of the southlands, he stands above every mundane political imperative and rule of courtesy—or so it seems until the king of the northlands tries to bring Scratha to heel. Scratha's bizarre reaction throws the independent southlands into chaos: he hands temporary control of his family lands over to the king, takes on an assumed name, and sneaks out of the city. The king sends Alyea, a young noblewoman, to hold the ceded prize: but while she understands kingdom politics, she's quickly out of her depth in the byzantine world of the southlands. What she thought was a quick ticket to power turns out to be a dangerous assignment that may well lead her to a literal dead end. Just as trapped is Idisio, the orphaned street-thief sent by a chance encounter into Scratha's service. As his new and throughly unstable master goes undercover, Idisio finds himself drawn into the mysterious world of the desert lords and their secrets. Idisio's growing comprehension of the world he's stepped into doesn't just change his beliefs; it leads him to an unsuspected truth about himself that will change his life forever.
"A storyteller with a good deal of promise."
"...a lushly visual and highly detailed world of desert tribes, a language of beads, and a unique way of viewing the world."
"The final product put me in awe of where the world-building skills of Wisoker are at this early stage of her career...reminiscent of something out of an Ursula K. LeGuin novel in detail and complexity. Wisoker, like the best authors of this genre, has created a completely original society upon which to tell her story."
"Secrets of the Sands, the first novel of Leona Wisoker, is a truly amazing accomplishment. Restrained yet tense, compelling, intricate and imaginative, it contains so much of the everything lacking in most modern fantasy one can find oneself moved to tears when the pages finally run out. If all first novels were this good, no television would ever be turned on again."
—CJ Henderson, author of Brooklyn Knight
"Leona Wisoker is a gifted storyteller and in Secrets of the Sands she has succeeded in crafting a refreshingly unpredictable tale set in a stunningly rich and detailed world."
—Michael J. Sullivan, author of the Riyria Revelations series
"With a flair for evoking exotic locales and an eye for detail, Leona Wisoker has crafted a first novel peopled by characters who are more than they first seem. From the orphaned street-thief who possesses an uncanny ability to read situations and people, to the impetuous noblewoman thrust into a world of political intrigue, Wisoker weaves a colourful tapestry of desert tribes, honour, revenge, and an ancient, supernatural race."
—Janine Cross, author of the Dragon Temple Saga
"...Wisoker makes a praiseworthy work when it comes to world building, creating with care and without haste a strong world, one piece at a time...another unique element of the story which...certainly will be developed more in the series' next novels."
—Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews
Wisoker's epic debut attempts much and accomplishes only some. The thief Idisio chooses the wrong mark; the desert lord Cafad Scratha signs over his property to a northern king; the northern noblewoman Alyea Peysimum is given unprecedented power. As their lives meet in a complex sequence of events, a world long in balance edges toward chaos. The desert setting is intriguing, but Wisoker crams into one novel a story better spread over two or three, with multiple long-lost heirs, political power games, a strange desert religion, and Idisio's complex history leaving little room for developing characters and interesting ideas. This overambitious tale is certainly engaging, but too trite, rushed, and confusing to be really memorable.