Title: Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Available: 2nd Feb (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 cruelest 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.
Source: ARC from Faber & Faber via NetGalley
If you loved Rebel of the Sands for it’s action, adventure, sharp-tongued, sharp-shooting heroine and romance, be warned – this book is not that book. The world remains richly detailed, the rebellion is still full of fight and there’s quite a bit more magic, but the action here gives way to a more politically motivated plot, with lies, misdirection and manipulation right at the heart of it all.
Personally, I loved that about it. I liked the shift from running everywhere at high speed, shooting all the things (which was great, but could get boring pretty fast if that is all the series did), to sneaking around, spying, trying to stay alive and feeling doubts. Because Amani does feel doubts. She’s no longer the wild unwanted child. Here she has to grow up, find some patience and try to learn more about the dangerous world she’s been shoved into.
I did miss the romance, though. Or, rather, I missed Jin and the snarky-sparky relationship he and Amani have. There’s quite a bit of conflict in their relationship in this book, but since they spend almost all of it apart, it isn’t resolved so much as forgotten, which was a shame.
The pace is slower too, but again I didn’t mind that. There are a lot of things to work through here, especially the wider world context of the rebellion and what victory could mean. There’s also a lot more about djinni, which I loved, a few new magical tricks that are both awesome (Sam) and potentially awful (the stuff towards the end).
Oh, and that end. I have feelings about that end, but spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. So I’ll just keep them to myself, beyond FEELINGS! I HAVE THEM!
So, while different in tone and pace than the first book, I still really enjoyed this. Amani has a lot of growing to do, but the world remains detailed, the plot remains fascinating and the villains and their motives are explored in a way that introduces murky thoughts and plenty of doubts. It’s a clever, intriguing sequel and I cannot wait to see everything turns out. I just hope there’s more Jin in it. In fact I’d say Jin with everything! Everything’s better with Jin! But that makes me sound like a tap-shackled, backstreet Victorian, so… Yeah, looking forward to the next one.
Traitor to the Throne is out February 2nd (UK)
/March 7th (US)
Visit Alwyn Hamilton for more details.