Book Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 30/01/2017 – 16/02/2017
Rating: ★★★


Contrary to what the dates above sort of indicate, it didn’t take me over two weeks to read this. I started it when I was in the wrong mood for it and only read perhaps 25% over a few days… a week or so later I came back and devoured the rest in the same amount of time.

During a surprise attack on the Rebel Camp, Amani finds herself taken prisoner and trapped in the Sultan’s harem, with no means of escape. She turns to spying, finding a way to sneak information out, but the Sultan has his own plans for her.

I know a lot of people were disappointed that Jin doesn’t play a bigger role in this book, but I actually really appreciated the fact that this wasn’t one of those cases where the middle book is mostly about the romance. Amani has to rely on herself, and there was no lovey-dovey-ness for the most part. I actually found myself annoyed when Jin showed up again, because then it did get a bit mushier, and I’m way more here for the political intrigue.

Speaking of which, SO MUCH political intrigue. We meet a few more princes and princesses, both loyal to the Sultan and not, as well as plenty of foreign dignitaries from all the surrounding countries. And the Sultan himself. I actually… really liked him? In the first book, he’s just that far-off evil villain, but we really got his side of things in this one. It’s not that he’s evil, exactly. It’s that he’s ruthless. And I really liked how unapologetic he is about that. Of course, his weakness is thinking he knows everything that’s going on, and that’s going to make for some interesting situations in the next book.

I think the reason this book and I got off on the wrong foot was the way it opens. It does not pick up straight after the events of the previous book; instead, it’s been a little while. The first few chapters give us an overview of the events that have happened off-page, but it really is just an overview, which is somewhat dissatisfying. Once I got past this, though, the book really started to pick up.

When I finished Rebel in the Sands, I felt a bit disappointed because the book had turned out to not be what I was expecting. I hadn’t been sure if I would even continue. But for whatever reason, I got excited about this one anyway, and I’m glad I read it. Now I’m looking forward to the third book and to seeing how the revolution pans out.

(Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)

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“A new dawn! A new desert!” // Review of “Rebel of the Sands” by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Date Read: 10/05/2016 – 16/05/2016
Rating: ★★★


rebelofthesandscover I have to start by saying that I did myself a bit of a disservice in the lead-up to reading this book by forming some completely baseless expectations about it. Some of them sort of turned out to be the case, but I definitely made things up based on what I thought I was reading on the back cover (unfortunately, going into details about these expectations will give things away, so you’ll just have to bear with me). Unfortunately, it meant that I was busy expecting things that weren’t coming that it distracted me from what is actually quite a well-written YA fantasy.

Amani wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of Dustwalk, and when a mysterious foreigner turns up and gives her that opportunity, she takes it, even if it means leaving her only friend for dead. Soon she is caught up with a group of rebels looking for a better way of life, even if it means sacrificing themselves and overthrowing the Sultan to do it.

First of all, credit where credit is due, Alwyn Hamilton has created a flawed heroine who goes through honest character development. In her desperation to get out Dustwalk, she makes some honestly selfish decisions, and it was a breath of fresh air. I find often when we describe YA characters as “flawed”, their flaws are there, but minimal, and Amani was a great contrast to that. When she realises she wants to stay with her new friends and defend them, you can really see the change she’s undergone.

Amani is surrounded by interesting characters, namely Jin, the aforementioned mysterious stranger. His true identity is a spoiler, so I won’t mention it here, but we certainly find out things about him along the way that aren’t necessarily expected. As they travel with a caravan and then join the other rebels, we are treated to lots of colourful side characters who add a lot of depth to the world.

I liked some aspects of the world-building but found other parts fell a bit flat for me. The desert setting, with its history of Sultans and First Beings (djinn, etc), was exactly what I had been craving, but I could never quite put my finger on the time period it was supposed to be. It’s not steampunk, but the characters all wield guns and ride trains, so it’s definitely industrial. Some of the language they used felt quite modern, but it was clearly not set present-day (if they can’t take the train, it’s still camels).

The plot is well-structured and unfolds at a good pace. The only problem is that it never feels very exciting. I think this is partly to do with the writing style; it’s in first person, but as good as Amani is as a character, her narrative voice is not that engaging.

Overall, while I enjoyed this book, I am not dying for the sequel. I do recommend it though, if you want something a bit different from the typical YA fantasy.