Title: Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands, #2
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Release Date: February 2nd 2017
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
Rebel of the Sands was one of my favourite reads of last year. Despite the mixed reviews I thought it was a brilliant book with twists and turns around every corner, amazing characters, and a brilliant world full of magical creatures, myths and legends. Obviously Traitor of the Sands was at the top of my to-read list, and while it was still an amazing read there was a few things I didn’t enjoy as much.
Ever since their battle at Fahali, which they won but not without losses, Amani and the rest of rebellion have slowly been taking back parts of the desert. However for every city they take there seems to be one that is taken from them again. It’s not an easy life, especially when even their allies turn against them, but for once they seem to be one step ahead of the Sultan.
When Amani is betrayed by someone she should be able to trust she suddenly finds herself in the heart of Izman, a prisoner of the Sultan she is fighting against. Trapped in the palace in the harem, her powers stopped by iron slices under her skin, Amani is unable to let the rebellion know she is all right. Now Amani needs to walk a very tight line between making herself useful to the Sultan and keeping the rebellion’s secrets.
Every day Amani spends in the palace is a dangerous one but while she risks her life and her secrets trying to find useful information to help the rebellion there are people within the harem walls who know all her secrets. The palace is a place where secrets are traded for favours, and there are more than a few people who know some very deadly secrets about Amani.
One of the things mentioned in a lot of reviews for the first book was that it was slow to start. I didn’t notice that as much in Rebel of the Sands but that was probably because as Amani and Jin were moving through the desert their situation was always changing, there was always a new threat to face. However in Traitor to the Throne Amani spent most of her days in the palace and a harem and, for me, the slow beginning to the plot was a little more noticeable. Towards the end the action came back, and the plot had all the twists and turns that made me fall in love with Rebel of the Sands
Amani has believed in the rebellion from the very beginning but in Traitor to the Throne, living in the palace and seeing the Sultan with her own eyes, she starts to question what Ahmed is doing and about whether it’s the right thing for her country. It was really interesting reading her inner turmoil as she tried to balance staying loyal to the rebellion with wanting what is the best for her country, and what she was learning in the palace from the Sultan with what she already knew from the rebellion.
Her whole life Amani seems to have been running away from something or someone. In Traitor to the Throne however has past catches up with her. Amani left a lot of people behind in Dustwalk when she fled with Jin, hurt and abandoned, but in this book she finds herself face to face with some of the again and she is forced to confront what she did back then and who she wants to be now.
Jin shares Amani’s habit of running away when things get tough. When she got hurt during one of their missions he runs rather than stays by her side as she heals. There is not a lot of page time for Jin and Amani as a couple, he runs from her and she runs from him because it’s all both of them now, but Amani is kidnapped Jin begins to run towards her trying to find her again.
There were plenty of new characters we were introduced to at the palace. Most of the harem wives Amani spends the majority of her time among are catty and cruel but they are forced to compete for their position and in some cases their lives. There secrets are enhanced for power and used for blackmail and any sign of weakness can be a death sentence.
We also finally came to face to face with the Sultan in this book, who quickly became a very interesting character. Before now we’ve only heard about him through Jin’s and Ahmed’s stories but in this book we get to see him first hand through Amani’s eyes. There is so much about him that she doesn’t expect. He seems to care about his people and is a very strong ruler, but there is much more to him beneath the surface.
The world building in Rebel of the Sands was one of my favourite aspects of the book, and the main reason was because of the myths, legends and magic woven into the plot. All this and more was back in Traitor to the Throne. We got more history behind the Djinni, but as well as stories from long ago there were also stories more relevant to Amani’s life and the lives of her fellow Demdji which added a lot more to her potential and what she could one day become. The first book showed us the desert, all the places of the world where life is hard and tough, in this book we see the other side of the world; the palace and the harem where everything is beautiful and rich but where things can be just as deadly as in the heart of the desert, just in a different way.
If you loved Rebel of the Sands then chances are you’ll love Traitor to the Throne as well. However if you found the plot slow to start in the first book then you won’t find the second any better. The story is still amazing, there are plenty of twists and turns throughout, but the action doesn’t seem to kick in until close to the end.
What did you think of Traitor to the Throne? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.