I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review will contain some small spoilers.
I’ve only just begun reading YA, but I can tell you that nothing has had quite the impact of Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands. I picked it up only recently and fell in love with the incredible world-building, plot, and characters. I do love my strong female characters and Rebel of the Sands certainlydoes not lacking in them. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered that Traitor to the Throne, the highly anticipated sequel, was due out only a few weeks after I finished the first book. And Traitor does not disappoint: it kicks the action and danger into high gear as Amani is trapped in enemy territory. With no Jin, Shazad, or rebel crew, Amani must survive alone outside the familiar deserts of Miraji.
Traitor to the Throne opens nearly a year after Rebel concludes. Amani is gravely wounded and is recovering while Jin is sent away to infiltrate the Xichian army. Although briefly reunited at the beginning of the book, Amani is torn away from Jin and the rebellion when she is betrayed and sold to her greatest enemy — the Sultan of Miraji. Trapped within the palace walls in Izman, Amani no longer has her gun, her demdji powers, or Jin — she must use her survival instincts to make alliances and stay alive — too bad she has always been terrible at watching her own back.
One of the things I liked best is that Hamilton strips away what makes Amani so interesting in the first book: her sharpshooting ability and her ability to control desert sands. Jin is out of the picture for most of the book and their love story isn’t there to keep up the reader’s interest. Regardless, Amani still shines through as an incredibly well-crafted and likeable character. She doesn’t need her skills for violence or magic to prop herself up. Jin isn’t a crutch to make her interesting or relatable. She is someone who we can easily admire. She’s still full of snark and sass and the dialogue is just as fun. Hamilton’s treatment of Amani in Traitor really shows off her growing skills as a writer and makes me love the character all the more.
I really enjoyed Rebel of the Sands; it’s a fun, quick read packed with action and romance. However, Traitor to the Throne is a whole new animal and, in my opinion, a far superior book. It is woven through with threads of folklore and stories that enhance the plot and the world rather than distract from it. It’s bursting with danger, color, and thrill. Like Rebel, this book is dominated by powerful women — both physically and socially — and is filled with new faces as well as old favorites.
The wait for book #3 will be a long one indeed.