My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I think the second book in Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands series may actually be better than the first. There is some incredible world building, beautiful writing and an exciting and fast paced story that I couldn’t stop reading.
I’d definitely recommend this series but be warned you’ll want the next book now.
Note: as this is a sequel there may be some spoilers for the first book.
The Blurb (from Goodreads)
The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!
Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.
When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.
This book is just sooo good, and honestly it was even better than I was hoping it would be. I read the first book, Rebel of the Sands a few months ago and liked it a lot but for some reason I didn’t quite love it. This one, this one I loved.
One of the biggest reasons why I loved this so much more was Amani. I did like her character in the first book but I felt like in Traitor to the Throne she developed in a way that turned her into one of my favorite characters. She’s still reckless and impulsive (and so fun to read) but she’s found something that’s more important to her than her own freedom and it makes for some truly engaging reading as she tries to figure out what to do. She also begins the book a lot more confident in who, and what, she is. She’s found a home and somewhere she belongs with the rebels, although she is missing a certain rebel.
I have to admit I kind of missed Jin too. I do have a bit of a soft spot for him so I was disappointed he didn’t feature more than he did although it did build some serious anticipation. I couldn’t wait to see him reunited with Amani, I love the relationship between them.
While Jin is missing for bits of the story it does give the author the opportunity to let us get to know the other rebels a bit more. I love the friendship between Amani and Shazad. I always like it when a book has female friends rather than rivals and Amani and Shazad seem to be true sisters. They complement each other so well, with Amani the reckless one rushing into danger and Shazad planning multiple steps ahead and watching her back.
There were also a lot of new characters this time around and of these Sam was a definite highlight. He has an interesting backstory but more importantly he has some useful abilities and is the biggest flirt ever. His first meeting with Amani did make me laugh.
This story has a much different setting than Rebel, as it’s based predominantly within the royal palace rather than the desert, but while I missed the desert I think I kind of preferred this. Hamilton’s writing and world building is incredible and it was fascinating to see the luxurious and beautiful side of it. It also pushed Amani completely out of her comfort zone and into an environment that led to her questioning everything she believed.
It is a beautiful world but the palace setting also introduced a lot of intrigue to the story. Almost everyone is trying to manoeuvre themselves into a position of power either for personal gain or just for protection and Amani, who acts on instinct is rather out of her element.
This is particularly the case when we finally get to meet the Sultan. He is not what Amani is expecting and I don’t think he was what I expected either. He’s very charismatic, persuasive and incredibly intelligent and sharp witted. He’s also power hungry, ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to act. Basically he’s everything I look for in a villain. It’s difficult to tell just what he’s planning and what he knows and he stole pretty much every scene he featured in.
I won’t say a huge amount about the story for fear of spoilers but there are a lot of twists and surprises and the action never lets up. It’s a book I stayed up way past my bedtime reading as I just didn’t want to put it down. Hamilton’s writing style is beautiful to read. The narrative is generally told from Amani’s point of view but every so often there were these breaks where you would almost step out of the story and it was as if someone was telling you a myth or legend. I’m sure there’s a word to describe this style but I have no idea what it is. What I do know is that I absolutely loved it and felt it brought so much to this story.
Overall, I loved this book a lot and having read it I’d recommend the series although with some of the big twists towards the end I don’t know how I’m going to wait for the next book in the series.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for granting my wish. All views are my own.