After finishing Rebel of the Sands (book 1) by Alwyn Hamilton, I simply had to pick up its sequel – Traitor to the Throne. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book, I found the second one to be really well written and I truly enjoyed it. It was a lot longer than the book 1 too. I would like to thank Allen & Unwin for providing me this review copy in exchange for an honest review. (This review contains mild spoilers for book 1 but none for book 2.)
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 Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.
Publication Date: March 7 2017
RRP: $16.99 AUD
Action. Rebellion. Treason. This book has got it all. I loved how the story picks up with a bang following a time gap after Rebel of the Sands. I very much enjoyed the vivid setting of Hamilton’s exotic world with great character and plot development – along with unique myths and legends from its world. (This book was a lot better for me compared to book 1.) It is around 500 pages long – and I personally like my books with less ‘fluff’ in the middle, thankfully this book was fully-loaded with actions and surprises and I’m very glad for it.
In the beginning of the book, Amani was kidnapped and thrown into the Sultan’s harem, where she learns how to survive (again) and faces deadly challenges within the walls of the palace. The dynamics between different individuals were explored in detail, although some remain abstract and complex which was fine by me. The competition between the harem girls to win the Sultim (heir to the throne) and Sultan’s (the ruler) favour serves as a big drive for about half of this book, and while we see the story from Amani’s perspective, it sheds light on what actually goes on inside the walls. Things go pretty complicated, but I find it very easy to follow and I’m grateful for the short chapters.
When Amani first arrived at the palace, she encounters TWO people who made appearances in book 1. I would not be saying who they are, but things got real interesting with those two being back in the story. I’m going to be honest, I did not like these two characters (they pissed me off at the start), but these two are pretty crucial in the plot line so I do hope you enjoy reading about them.
I want to talk about feminism and the female relationships in this book. It does seem like the author was doing her best in exploring gender roles and themes – and also to encourage female empowerment. However, I notice a tiny problem with how she portrayed the harem women as ‘mean, b*tchy, rude’ etc (although they are simply trying to survive), while at the same time – Hamilton describes Shazad (my other fav) as a beautiful young women, with a long list of ass-kicking skills. I think that the matter of female empowerment can be improved and be better articulated. Perhaps it was the middle-easter setting? Different values in certain cultures? I’m not sure, but I still think something can be done to avoid painting the wrong picture to readers.
My favourite thing about this book is perhaps the fascinating and unique characters. I loved Shazad and Amani’s friendship and their trust for each other. And there is also a new character being introduced in this book, he is a mysterious and cool guy and I really enjoyed reading his scenes. I’m excited for you to meet this character with an awesome ability! So that leaves us Jim and Ahmed, the royal bro duos – both charismatic, kind and always look out for the ones they love most. There’s so much depth within these characters and I am glad the author takes the time to really let us learn about their background story. (There are some very cute scenes and they make me really happy.)
Oh and we get to meet the Sultan – the multifaceted villain – it was interesting to read about him first-hand because in book 1, I only heard ruthless stories about this guy. Amani actually found herself doubting if the rebellion really stand a chance against this guy – and that’s saying something. I am excited to find out how the story goes from here.
The book was filled with secrets, dramatic entrances and surprises, and if you like an epic adventure (or I should say continue the adventure from book 1) – I strongly recommend you pick this one up! The plot-twists and actions that sets you on the edge of your seat really sets this book apart from book 1. The blend of exotic culture and mythology, fantasy x steampunk setting makes this a delightful read!
Thanks for reading my review and I hope you like it!
Happy Reading! xx