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Review: Traitor to the Throne - Alwyn Hamilton

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Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #2
My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Fantasy
Published March 7th 2017 by Viking

Source: Borrowed
Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.

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.

My mother had raised me on a thousand stories of girls who were saved by the Djinn, princesses rescued from towers, peasant girls rescued from poverty.
Turned out, stories were just stories.
I was on my own.
I read Rebel of the Sands a long time ago - I actually read it just before Traitor was released just so I could pick up the second book straight away and carry on reading... However for some reason, even after LOVING Rebel I took forever to pick up this book.

Now normally that would mean that I would re-read the first book in the series to reacquaint myself with the world and the characters, but I didn't do that for this series, and somehow I feel like I've enjoyed it all the more because of that.

You see, Rebel and Traitor just have two completely different flavours, and if I'd come off the fast paced, action packed thrill ride of Rebel and gone straight into Traitor which is just a little more gritty, a little more high stakes (but in terms of being responsible for the fate of the world and not just for oneself) and it has a little less of the sassy gun-slinging desert girl that I fell in love with in book one, and a lot less of the romance that I had been hoping would actually bloom in this book, well you know - I might have been disappointed.

It was harder to remember everything about the situation and what had exactly happened in Rebel, but I got back into it quickly enough (the character sheet at the beginning of the book was super helpful here) and I was reminded in the narrative about all the important things that my brain had totally forgotten. It also meant that I was able to get my hands on the third book almost immediately as I finished this one... So that was also a big plus - especially considering where this one left off! #cliffhangerwarning
I would show this city how a desert girl dies
Amani is going through some serious character development here, and that's Okay, although I did kind of miss her shooting at stuff a lot and it being just her and Jin. In fact, Jin was fairly absent due to circumstances for most of this book, but they're still a ship and I'm still rooting for them hard. Amani's still the tenacious, kick-ass girl we met in Rebel and she was resourceful no matter what her situation which is saying something, especially when at times it seemed like all might be lost. She's also reckless, impulsive and sometimes makes questionable decisions and yet I can definitely relate to her choices. As all admirable heroines should be, Amani is courageous, loyal and fights fiercely for what she believes in no matter what.

I loved getting to know some of the secondary characters; Shazad (I HEART SHAZAD), Ahmed, Delilah and the other demdji and even the big bad himself! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of the Sultan's character rather than just hearing how evil he was from the rebellion's point of view and popular opinion throughout Miraji. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the overall plot arc of the series.
‘Are you as good as Amani says you are?’
‘No, I’m even better.’ Shazad grabbed the blade out of his hand. ‘Together?’
I also loved the stories interspersed throughout the narrative, like folk tales taken directly from Arabian Nights. They added both atmosphere and clarity to the story.

My only major dislike was the fact that there wasn't enough of a continuation of the romance between Jin and Amani and I felt like this book fell prey to the 'separate the romantic interests for book 2' trope and yet, given the situation it couldn't have actually been any different.

Traitor has made the overall plot a lot more intense and complicated and, as I mentioned earlier, there are higher stakes all around. It's not just about a rebel prince and his rebellion anymore, it's about the entire kingdom and the pressure of the surrounding nations; it's about the desperate attempts of those who want to be in power and it's about the clever manoeuvring required to play the game of power domination. There's a lot of subtlety, political intrigue, betrayal and mystery and I cannot wait to see what happens in Hero at the Fall.

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) -- Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3)→