Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)
By: Alwyn Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber (UK)
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2017 (UK)
This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.
Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.
Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.
SO GOOD. That’s all I can say for the moment. SO VERY VERY GOOD.
Granted, this book was one that I preordered (the British copy, which also came out earlier), several months before it came out. I even reread the first one, to make sure I knew what was going on before diving into it. But when I did finally read Traitor to the Throne, it met all my hopes, and blew past them on a few occasions.
I loved Rebel of the Sands for the snappy, loudmouthed, gun-wielding tomboy that is Amani, for what was between her and Jin, and for the wonderfully done Arabic setting (with Djinn magic, of course). Granted, Traitor to the Throne is a *very* different book. Amani, one of the foremost leaders of the rebellion, is kidnapped and sent to the Sultan’s Palace, where she has to hide all her connections to the rebellion and navigate the snakepit that is the harem, while fighting from the inside to help her comrades (and facing the occasional crisis of whether she’s on the right side). I know some reviewers were disappointed with the change. Personally, I deeply enjoy books about court intrigue, so I was even happier (if that was even possible) with the way that Traitor to the Throne progressed.
I can see where readers might be disappointed, if they really enjoyed the train heists and desert descriptions in the first book. But I thought the important components were all there. Amani is the same sassy tomboy that she was in the first book, and Traitor to the Throne provided a lot more context, in many ways. Amani developed a lot as a character, which I enjoyed, and I’m not sure it could have happened in a different setting. I thought the rekindling of her contentious relationship with her cousin Shira was well-done, especially in the context of the harem, and the games between her and the various members of the Sultan’s family were fascinating. Her reconciliation with Tamid and learning to live without her magic was also well written. At the end of the book, I thought Amani had lost some of her recklessness and was ready to step up and be who the rebellion needed her to be.
I also loved the complicated twists and turns in this book. Shira’s game, the ‘blue-eyed bandit’ ruse, all of the deceptions…I lapped it up. Although Traitor to the Throne doesn’t have as much of the straight-up action as the first one, it has plenty of plot twists and turns that made for a fascinating read. I also thought that Traitor to the Throne had a lot more of an edge to it. Although Amani and Jin were constantly balancing on the edge of disaster in Rebel of the Sands, it was in a reckless, haphazard way. In this book, it was much clearer that lives were at stake, and that the characters were playing a much larger game.
I do admit to disappointment in one area: Jin and Amani. I loved seeing them together in the first book, how their contentious partnership became much more, and I really wanted to have more of them in this one (despite the difficulty of arranging that). However, what few scenes there were of them together were well-written, and intense. I especially liked that they weren’t in this happily-ever-after mode, and that there were issues in their relationship. And I felt justifiably annoyed at what those issues were (looking at you, Jin). BUT they eventually communicated with each other, and dealt with their issues, which felt like it was setting a far more realistic standard.
If I hadn’t already been sold on the book, the ending would probably have done it for me. Up until the last page, I was on the edge of my seat. And although Alwyn Hamilton didn’t leave us with a cliffhanger (thank the Good Lord), I really can’t wait for the last book.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.