The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!
Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.
When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.
Disclaimer: Will contain slight spoilers to previous book, Rebel of the Sands; my review can be found here.
Thank you Penguin Books for the review copy!
What a lush, magical, and simply extraordinary sequel this book was! It was definitely one of my highly anticipated releases of 2017, and I screamed when I first got it in my hands. Following that, I stroked it for a while because it was so dang THICK. With up to 500 pages, Traitor to the Throne had almost double the pages and content than its predecessor. Alwyn Hamilton doesn’t waste any of those pages, however, as we are quickly pulled back into the heart of the story. It’s really rare for me to fall head over heels in love with a fantasy series, but this one has stolen my heart completely. From Amani’s grittiness to the sweeping world of Miraji and the mysterious Djinni, Traitor to the Throne is an epic sequel to an action-packed story that follows the Rebel Prince on his quest to free his people.
The very first chapter of the book gives a quick rehash of what happened in the previous book. This one starts around half a year since Amani joined the rebellion, which makes a many month gap between the end of the first book and the beginning of this one. I thought this was an intriguing take, since there’s actually a monumental event that occurs during that time period, but I also think that the author recounts it quite thoroughly with Amani’s memories and thoughts of the event. While at first I was surprised at this skip, in the end I was glad because it leaves the story ready to jump back in when things start progressing with the rebellion.
Readers get to learn so much more about the world of Miraji, as well as the countries bordering it and ready to invade it. Alwyn really focuses on the inner-workings of the court in this book, which is quite a contrast to the desert-crossing of the previous book. I loved this change of setting! We get to see the lush, opulent side of the country where sand hardly ever touches. For a desert girl like Amani, it’s like a whole new world. The author also expands on the history of the world and the magical forces working at hand with added stories and references to folklore. Overall, it’s made me envision the setting with a clearer gaze – I can almost taste the crunchy sand of the desert and see the unique colors of the birds in the harem.
“That was the beauty of the desert. It got into everything, right down to your soul.”
There is so much that happens in this book! We get introduced to a multiplicity of new characters, while learning more about old ones and seeing others that may or may not have been thought dead. Alwyn does a fantastic job in writing these characters, and they come to life on the page. I adored Amani’s grittiness, her strength, resolve, and determination to push through, even when she was at her worst. She goes through so much in this book and is really brought to her lowest, it was almost painful to read about. But despite it all, she rises up like the sun rises every day. Jin was not seen as much in this story, which was my biggest regret. A lot of sequels feature the main couple away from the other and this one was no different. I’m anticipating to see them as a united front in the third book though! Even without many pages, his love and loyalty to his family and friends was still so very easy to see. I also loved reading about Shazad, the beautiful general’s daughter whose sharp mind is masked by a pretty face, all the colorful Demdjis with their variegated personalities and reasons to stay loyal to the rebellion, and of course Ahmed, the Rebel Prince whose hesitant actions as ruler makes him even more real of a character. These characters definitely make mistakes, but their weaknesses make them even more real, and I could easily empathize with them.
“The sun was setting behind me. Which meant that when sunrise came they would blaze with light.
A new dawn. A new desert.”
In the book, we also get to meet the Sultan, the main enemy of the rebellion, as Amani is spying in the court. She enters into the harem (not willingly though) and discovers how caustic it can be living there, despite the obvious opulence and wealth of it. She learns to attack with secrets rather than physical blows as she simultaneously learns the reasoning behind the Sultan’s actions. The court politics about the invasions of foreign countries and diplomacy never got boring or slowed the pace down. The Sultan has many tricks up his sleeves, only highlighted by the betrayals going on in the book. Let me tell you guys, even when I thought I knew something, the author would still manage to make it more twisted than my guess. So many revelations and gasps were made throughout the book, I had to physically stop reading to calm down before picking the book up again. It made for an extremely exhilarating and un-put-downable read.
“Because that’s what the Djinni fire is. It’s life. It’s energy. It gave us life. And I have just harnessed it. Not to destroy. To power this country.”
Feeding off to my disappointment with lack of Jin page time was the result of a lack of romance between him and Amani. It continues on its path as a linear romance, and the two are as solid a couple as anything. But they weren’t together for the majority of the book while Amani is spying, so there’s not much going on in terms of their relationship. When they are together though, the pages are heavy with chemistry and swoons. There are also budding and progressing side romances that are super sweet to see as well!
“The Rebellion might be falling apart around us, the whole desert even, but for now we were both still alive and we were together, and the anger between us had turned into a different fire that drew us both into the middle of it until I wasn’t sure which one of us was consuming the other one.”
Traitor to the Throne has all a fantasy reader could ask for: betrayal and espionage, vulnerable characters that don’t give up, sacrifices and stubbornness, and people fighting for what they believe in, all wound up within the romance of the desert sand. Alwyn captures a colorful and bright cast of characters that light up the pages with not only their sparkling personalities but exhilarating adventures. All the revelations and information on the history and background of Miraji as a country and the world with just the Djinni was well worth the 500-page read. If you haven’t picked up Rebel of the Sands and you’re just itching for an adventure, please do so! The sequel just increases in intensity and stakes, as this time, we’re not dealing with rebellion, but the path towards a war. The question is, will you be caught up for the grand finale?
Edit after writing review: I’d like to add the viewpoint that this series has problematic representation in regards to Muslim culture: specifically the expression of Djinns. I can’t say much about it myself, but Muslim readers have found problems in the story that is never really addressed or fixed. Just please be aware of this if you decide to pick this one up!
- USA Only.
- Ends March 1, 2017.