Cassian was forced to grow up overnight after his father’s violent assassination. Only the quick thinking of his loyal bodyguard, Yashiv, prevented Cassian from meeting the same fate. For nearly a decade, as Cassian grew to manhood, Yashiv protected him and now, as Master of his clan, Cassian is faced with a difficult choice.
A child is rescued from a caravan attack, but she’s considered too old for adoption into the clan. She claims to be a future bride for a neighboring prince, but her story doesn’t make much sense and Cassian is pressured to dispose of her because she poses a potential threat to the clan. But Cassian isn’t a murderer, especially where a child is involved, and with the ever loyal Yashiv at his side, he must challenge tradition and prove himself a worthy leader despite his youth.
Shifting Sand was an enjoyable, though somewhat ordinary, romance between a young leader and his devoted bodyguard. Cassian and Yashiv are sweet together, but there isn’t anything terribly unique about them as a couple. They have a sort of “everyone saw our love for one another except us” moment, but this was brief and they moved into a devoted relationship fairly quickly. We know more about Yashiv than Cassian, but there’s a whole history between them that we’re never privy to and, as a result, I wasn’t really able to connect with them beyond a superficial level. And this brings us to one of the biggest issues with Shifting Sand.
When I was reading the book, there was the sensation of being dropped into a story already in progress. When we meet Cassian, he’s only 9 and while the complex political nature of tribal life is mentioned, it’s done briefly and without the detail needed to really understand the clan system the author has envisioned. Then the story jumps by nearly a decade and we lose all the development between Cassian and Yashiv. So when they finally come together as a couple, I felt as though I was missing out on the real heart of who they were. Additionally, there isn’t much world building so we never get much information on how the clans interact and why certain actions are more important than others. The story is still enjoyable despite this, but it lacks a measure of depth that could have made this book really amazing. I wanted to know to more about our heroes and the world they live in and I desperately wish the author had given us this information.
Shifting Sand has an interesting shell, with two sweet main characters, but it lacked the punch of a truly fantastic book. It had the elements, but it needed far more world building and overall detail to lift it beyond the ordinary. It’s enjoyable as is, but it’s only tangentially a work of fantasy and I ended it feeling the story just needed a bit more of everything to really make it work.