Book: Traitor To The Throne (Rebel of The Sands #2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Published By: Faber & Faber
Expected Publication: 2nd February
I received this book for free via Netgalley, as always, this in no way affected my opinion of this book.
As always, thanks to Netgalley and Faber and Faber for allowing me to read this book.
As many of you know (or you will know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while), I absolutely loved Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel, Rebel of The Sands, it was one of the best books I read last year and so naturally I was incredibly excited when it came up on Netgalley and “wished” for it. I wasn’t expecting to get it (usually these things never work out for me!) but I did.
I’m not going to lie, my expectations for this book were high after how great Rebel of The Sands was and I’m not sure that they were entirely met. Traitor To The Throne definitely suffers from some “middle book syndrome”, a lot of it is about political manoeuvrings, and a great deal is set in the harem in the Sultan’s palace, so the pacing is a little off for quite a large portion of the book, the start was engaging, so was the end, but there was quite a large portion in the middle that seemed to lag a bit which I wasn’t entirely keen on.
I appreciated that there was a character recap at the start of the book, because there’s quite a lot of characters and you tend to forget some of them between books, so that was a welcome addition. I also liked that the first chapter acted as kind of a recap for the last book, as not everyone has the chance to reread the first book before the sequel comes out! It also worked well due to the six month time gap between the books, the first chapter kind of catches you up with everything that’s happened so you’re not just thrown straight in the deep end.
The stakes were definitely a lot higher in this book and the plot was more complex than in the first book which I appreciated, although as I said previously, I did feel like the political manoeuvrings kind of bogged the pacing of the book down a little in the middle of the book.
I still really loved Amani, her powers are awesome, she’s still such an amazing, strong, brave, feisty female character and I liked that we got to see her grown more as a person in this book, she’s no longer this selfish desert girl that she was in the first book, she clearly cares so much about everyone in the rebellion and she’s willing to take risks to save everyone, not just herself now. She’s without her powers for a considerable portion of the book and it’s interesting to see how this develops her character as a strategist rather than just the warrior that we saw in the first book.
I appreciated that we got to learn more about Amani’s family in this book, we get to meet her aunt (her other one, not the one she lived with in Dustwalk) and Shira reappears which I liked because I didn’t feel that relationship was really explored enough in the first book, and it really gets more developed here, which was great. We also get to meet her Djinni father and get more backstory on her mother, which was pretty cool.
The setting of the book wasn’t quite as captivating as the first, we’re still in Miraji of course, but as much of it is set in the palace, it doesn’t have quite the same desert magic as the first one did (though ironically we do get a lot of magic in this book!).
I liked that we got to see even more of the mythology of the world in this book, that was very cool because it’s such a unique mythology, given that Djinn are not common in fantasies, so I felt like it really added something to the story having the mythology interspersed within it. We also had a wedding in this book and a new Mirajin festival, Auranzeb, so it was interesting seeing the customs for those. We also get to learn more about Miraji’s neigbouring countries, Albis, Gamanix and Xicha which I liked.
I really loved the new characters who were introduced, particularly Sam, a new addition to the rebellion, he’s this charming, cheeky thief who’s been trading on Amani’s reputation and it was so fun to see the two of them interact (don’t worry, they’re only friends, there is no love triangle here) and see him integrate into the rebellion. He has an interesting backstory too which I liked and his “power” is so cool (he’s not a Demdji, he’s a Faye, which is a Northern version of Djinn), he can walk through walls, which I thought was awesome! We also get to meet a lot of the Sultan’s sons, the most important being Rahim, who joins the rebels side. He didn’t make too much of an impression on me, but I imagine he’ll develop more in the third book. There are various members of the harem that we meet as well, but they’re not particularly important!
We also finally get to meet the Sultan! He was everything I wanted him to be, a twisted, complex, dark character. I liked that Hamilton did not take the easy way out and make the Sultan completely evil, he feels that he is doing what is right for his country and there is a logic to his decisions, which makes him even more scary! I appreciated how clever and manipulative the Sultan was, it made the payoff at the end of the book all the better!
There was the occasional spelling and punctuation error, but since I read an uncorrected proof, I’m sure this was just a case of that and it will have been fixed in the final version.
One slight niggle I had was that not all the chapters were named. I get that it was meant to show a difference between chapters talking about Djinni myths/character backstories, but it’s just a pet peeve of mine when authors name some of their chapters and not others. Either name them all or don’t name at all people!
I did miss Jin in this book. He and Amani are apart for most of the book, and whilst I appreciated this because it allowed Amani a chance for growth and development on her own, and understood it because Amani was in the palace for most of the book, I still missed him and would have liked to see him more. There are still some cute moments for them as a couple (including a very frustrating almost sex-scene!) but I would have liked to have just seen a tad more of Jin.
I still really love Shazad and Amani’s friendship, although again, we don’t get to see too much of them working together because of the set up of this book. In fact I would have loved to see more Shazad in general because I really love her (and totally ship her and Sam!).
There were a lot of twists and turns and unexpected things happening through the book, which I loved, basically the entire last ten or so chapters are just one big twist and I was on the edge of my seat through them. Without all of the slightly tedious political manoeuvrings before, they never would have worked, so whilst they did seem boring at the time, I appreciated what they built up to.
Overall, despite the fact that the book suffered from some pacing issues in the middle, I still really enjoyed it! Amani is a fantastic main character, the plot was more complex this time than in Rebel of The Sands, so whilst it might not have had the same on the edge of your seat action, it has more depth, there is more character development, more world building and a very exciting conclusion. It was a very solid addition to the trilogy and has me on the edge of my seat waiting for Book Three!
My Rating: 3.5/5 (the slow middle meant that this just wasn’t quite a 4)
My next review will be of my most recent read, The Invisible Library, by Genvieve Cogman.