Hello Humans! Another book bites the dust (just kidding books are precious and they shall not come into contact with dust, protect them at all costs). One of the books I read and reviewed early on in my book blogging days was Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands. I was charmed by the fusion of elements of classic westerns and the fantasy world that had been painstakingly created. I have been humming and ha-ing over reading the sequel Traitor to the Throne for many weeks because I made the mistake of reading some low star reviews on the internet. I desperately didn’t want to be disappointed by this sequel…was I?
Goodreads Summary: (Possible spoilers for Rebel of the Sands)
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.
Can I start with length? This book is a lot heftier than Rebel of the Sands, however it didn’t actually take that long to read. For some reason the paperback copy I have has quite large font and wide margins which I think ups the page count quite considerably. I can’t comment on length in too much detail because I completely binge read this one in an evening because I have no self control. Something in the back of my mind tells me to savour books and instead I just seem to devour them!
I found this book refreshing. I’m not sure how to fully explain that. What I’m trying to say is that there was a good amount of old and new mixed together, there are the familiar characters from the first book in the series but there are new faces added to the mix, there are new settings, new evils to face. I know some people found this sequel to be too disparate from the first book, I believe ‘not enough sass’ was one reviewer’s critique, I can see how that was a problem since that was such a selling point of the first book, but for me it didn’t feel like too much of a problem. I’m wondering if this is because I left such a large gap between reading the two books, so I wasn’t worried too much about continuity of tone?
Either way, I thought this was an excellent book. It loses something of those ‘western’ (guns and desert not ‘part of the world’) elements I liked in the first book but the scope of Amani’s world has changed so much in this book that it would be hard to write her and the setting in the same way. I’m wondering if the third book in the series will take the reader in an entirely new direction also or if it’ll return to the roots of the first book.
Regardless of levels of ‘sass’ Amani remains a powerful character, I appreciated that they found a way to make her simultaneously hugely powerful and incredibly weak, she has flaws that are constantly being exploited but she doesn’t ever feel pathetic. I also appreciated that the romance doesn’t take over this book, it is firmly there, but it is clearly a sub plot to the rest of the goings on.
I had such a fun evening wrapped up in a blanket with this book and I would definitely recommend reading it even if you’re worried about how it’ll stand up to the first book!
My rating: 4/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? Were you disappointed by this sequel? Let me know in the comments below!