Publisher: Faber and Faber
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: eBook from NetGalley
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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.
Where to even start? How about a quick reminder of my love for Rebel of the Sands? You can read my full review of REBEL here! Now, on to the sequel. I pretty much would have sold my soul to get my hands on Traitor to the Throne. In fact, I did, and managed to get hold of a SDCC bound manuscript aka the holy grail of ARCs.
You know when you have a book you really want in your hands and you sit there and stroke it and pet it and love it but then don’t want to start it just yet? That sort of happened. I blame exams but I was also a little hesitant because the copy I had was pre-edits. But then NetGalley came to the rescue with a finished e-Copy sent straight to my kindle and I came out of my last exam and started it straight away. As soon as I was a few pages into Traitor to the Throne, I was giddy with nostalgia. I absolutely loved the world in Rebel of the Sands and was beyond excited to be returning to it. I promised myself I’d be more critical and articulate when reviewing books this year but I actually just want to screech about how much I adore these books. So, to refrain from doing so I will break it down for you all:
The characters: if you like to read (or even watch movies) you probably agree that the best villains are the ones that make us sympathetic to their cause. There shouldn’t be a clear line between good/bad because that would just be boring. Alwyn nails this. The Sultan is evil. Or is he? The way his character is written in this story makes us question everything we’d gathered from the first book about right and wrong, and I found myself actually starting to like the Sultan?!
“For my sister… I would set the sea on fire.”
Shazad Al-Hamad is one of my most favourite characters, ever. I know that’s a bold statement to make, but seriously. I could read on and on about the beautiful, dangerous female who everyone undermines because she’s a female/pretty/daughter of a well-known Mirajin General etc. etc. etc. but is actually an intelligent strategist for the Rebel Prince and one of the original members of the rebellion and in all honesty, Ahmed and his rebellion would be nowhere without Shaz. Her friendship with Amani, the banter and the love and respect they have for each other concealed by thinly-veiled sarcastic snipes, . We also get to learn more about the Demdji we’d encountered in Rebel, and meet more of the Sultan’s sons which I was actually looking forward to and very much enjoyed. I found myself comparing them to Jin and Ahmed but they were all quite different and I kept hoping for random events that would lead to Shazad meeting Kadir and tearing him to shreds. That would’ve been fun.
The romance: Jin is my soulmate. I have claimed him as my own little cinnamon roll. The romance wasn’t a huge factor in this book which I think was actually great because it allowed the focus to be on the plot but it was also always there in the background and the chemistry and friendship between Amani and Jin melts my heart.
The setting: Alwyn Hamilton’s world-building is probably what makes these books so addicting, other than the characters. The mix between the wild west, and Arabian desert full of djinn, mythical creatures and a devious Sultan
(not to mention all the hot princes, seriously).
The writing: there was a lot more mythology and magic present in this book than there was in the first which I thought was incorporated beautifully into the story.
The plot twists: every time I thought I knew something, something else flew out of nowhere and the story itself was just so gripping, action-filled, and had enough dilemma that I was actually worried for Amani and the others for most of the book. (Still am, to be frank).
Overall, Traitor to the Throne was a sequel that I could’ve only hoped for. A strong, adventure full of lovable characters and myths. All I can say that it is an actual roller-coaster of emotions and I will be waiting with bated breath for book number three!
Favourite quote: “I thought of Shazad. My sister in arms. We had recognised something in each other the first time we met and we were tied. By more than blood.”
BEHOLD: the new US covers
I just felt the need to share these new, gorgeous US covers.