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Land of Sand and Song


(Penguin Random House SEA, 2021)


Legend has it that a magical spring lies dormant in the heart of the Khuzar desert. Said to be a gift from the gods, the spring holds the cure to all mortal woes.


As mercenaries from everywhere try in vain to find the mystical spring, 17-year-old Desert Rose is on the run after her chieftain father is overthrown and captured by rebel clans. Now out for revenge, she sets out alone to the Oasis Capital to assassinate the person instigating the rebellion: the corrupt Emperor Zhao, who will stop at nothing to possess the elixir of life from the spring.


To infiltrate the Imperial Guard, Desert Rose must pass a series of trials to test her wit, mettle, and her loyalty. But the real test lies in navigating the cut throat court politics with no ally but a rogue prince and a latent magic stirring in her – magic that can bring a kingdom to its knees or destroy her from within.

LAND OF SAND AND SONG is the first of an Asian fantasy trilogy.

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Cover art © 2021 by Devangana Dash

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Author's Note

LAND OF SAND AND SONG was born out of the guilty pleasure I take in watching Korean saeguk (historical dramas) and Chinese wuxia dramas, as well as my desire to see more Asian-inspired fantasy on the shelves.

This is a book about a girl who ventures beyond the world she has always known with a singular goal in mind, and I found myself living vicariously through her as I explored this world of my own making. It took my imagination to places I never thought I could roam, and had me researching the treacherous wilderness of the Taklamakan desert and figures like Emperor Qin Shi Huang (who was obsessed with attaining immortality), and physically discovering the nooks and crannies of the Forbidden City. So writing this book was a trip, to say the least. 

The book was also inspired by titles like REBEL OF THE SANDS and DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE, as well as the Korean drama Scarlet Heart: Ryeo in terms of world-building and characterisation, and THE STONE OF HEAVEN, which influenced the book's central conflict.

There's so much more to delve into, and I can't wait to for readers to embark on this journey!

Content Warnings:
Murder, death, persecution, torture, stabbing, classism, death of a loved one


"LAND OF SAND AND SONG by Joyce Chua is one of those classic YA fantasies that is fast-paced and action packed, and slips in all the fun tropes and character dynamics. I also really enjoyed how it was a quick read but still honed in on creating an Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with history and gorgeous mythology and culture. I loved when they paused to talk about lore and magic — it just really made the world so much deeper."

—C.G. Drews, author of A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses

"Joyce spins an enchanting tale of magic, vengeance and romance in this new Asian fantasy world. Land of Sand and Song is brilliantly written with compelling characters, and you’ll find it hard to put down this book once you pick it up."

—Leslie W, author of The Night of Legends

"Joyce Chua is a masterful wordsmith who understands the craft. Be prepared to lose yourself in her words, be sucked into her world, and find yourself a part of this epic journey."


—Ning Cai, author of the Savant Trilogy 

Sand Dunes

Reader Reviews

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