Top 5 Saturday: Books Set in the Desert

Welcome back to another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: desert setting.

I’ve missed a couple Saturday posts but last week’s topic was love triangles and I would’ve struggled hard to have come up with any books cos love triangles are not my jam. It is one of my most hated tropes because the angst is so real and I’m not for that. But I digress! I’m glad be back and posting for today’s desert prompt. All of these are on my TBR although I’ve heard great things about the books and am looking forward to checking them out. They’re all (unsurprisingly) of the fantasy genre and surprisingly, none of them are retellings of the one thousand and one nights (at least I don’t think so but please let me know in the comments if I’m wrong)! I’m not particularly fussed about desert settings–I don’t seek out books with this setting but I also don’t mind reading stories set in the desert. Admittedly, I can actually only recall one desert fantasy and that’s The Kinder Poison (which is awesome and I would highly recommend btw)! On that note, here are five books with desert settings that I’d love to read (soonish):


Book cover: The City of Brass

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for… 


Book cover: The Map of Salt and Stars

It is the summer of 2011, and Nour has just lost her father to cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates unusual, hand-painted maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour’s mother once knew is changing, and it isn’t long before protests and shelling threaten their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety. As their journey becomes more and more challenging, Nour’s idea of home becomes a dream she struggles to remember and a hope she cannot live without. More than eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya, sixteen and a widow’s daughter, knows she must do something to help her impoverished mother. Restless and longing to see the world, she leaves home to seek her fortune. Disguising herself as a boy named Rami, she becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. In his employ, Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts, epic battles, and real historical figures.


Book cover: We Hunt the Flame

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.
Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds–and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine. 


Book cover: Tiger Queen

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger. But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.


Book cover: Empire of Sand

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy. The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda. Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…



  • 20 Mar 2021 — Love Triangle
  • 27 Mar 2021 — Desert Setting
  • 03 Apr 2021 — Diverse Characters
  • 10 Apr 2021 — Blood on the Cover
  • 17 Apr 2021 — Longest Books (Books you’ve read, on your TBR.)

Do you like reading books that are set in the desert? Do you notice any cover or trope themes for books set in the desert? Are any of these on your TBR too?

23 thoughts on “Top 5 Saturday: Books Set in the Desert

  1. Lmao I knew someone was gonna hate the love triangles topic!! I love a good angsty book though hahahaha

    The Kinder Poison is super high on my TBR and will probably wind up on my top 5 list!!

    Empire of Sand is also on my TBR. Ooh and Tiger Queen was one of my favorite books with a desert setting! It was such a good quick read and pretty memorable!

    Oh and btw the last part of your post is about gifted books assuming you forgot to change it from the other week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAHAHA I know, I know, I just… Ugh, the angst, I cannot take it 🤣🤣🤣
      I really hope you love The Kinder Poison! It really surprised me and I ended up loving it 😃
      Also, thanks for letting me know about the last part of my post. Haha I did forget to change it, OOPS!


      • Hahah I love the angst! I’ve always loved boys fighting over a girl for some reason. But it just adds so much drama! I love a well written love triangle but I knew some would hate it.

        I’m dying to get my hands on a copy of The Kinder Poison


  2. Three of these covers also have the Moroccan arch kind of framing on it, do I guess there’s a strong theme of that within desert books 😂 I always wonder, how do you find books for each theme? I would have to just go through my goodreads list and try to find them. Do you just know off the top of your head?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, you know what? I didn’t even notice the arches when I chose the books. I mean, I saw them but didn’t recognise maybe there’s a theme there 😂 Um… For this list, I knew three of them off the top of my head and then I ended up scanning some lists and seeing the other two that were on my TBR (and that I forgot LOL)! Sometimes I do Google for these kinds of lists to see what books appear on my GR TBR though!


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  4. DINI YOU MUST READ THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS!! That book touched my soul so deeply. And I feel like no one else has even heard of it not to mind read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG EMER, I KNOW! I do have a feeling that it’s gonna crush all my emotions but I definitely do want to check it out soon! I do feel like it’s quite an underrated book. I actually think I added it to my physical library after seeing you review or talk about it? You sold me on it! 🤣


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