Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Traitor to the Throne is a book I've had sitting on my TBR shelf for a little while now. I read Rebel of the Sands, the first book in the trilogy, earlier this year and whilst it was okay it hadn't left a lasting impression and I wasn't feeling pulled back to the series as quickly as I had expected to be. Having renewed and renewed this book with my local library I only had a week left to read it before I had to return it so with that pressure upon me I eventually picked it up.
Boy was this a different book from Rebel of the Sands, whilst Rebel of the Sands was quite a short read focusing mainly on Amani the desert girl running away from an arranged marriage and Jin the prince who is helping his brother to lead a rebellion against his father the Sultan. It was a book focused very much on setting up the world and didn't give us as much action as perhaps I'd been expecting. Traitor to the Throne is a much meatier book in all possible ways. It's a good 200 pages longer than Rebel of the Sands and each of those 200 pages are used to their full potential as we develop the world building of Book 1 into a more politically charged and high stakes story.
We pick up just after Rebel of the Sands with Amani and Jin working with the Rebellion to try and overthrow the Sultan. Soon we find Amani captured and taken to the Sultan's palace where she is imprisoned in the harem. From within the palace, she uses her position to find out important political information that she can use to help the rebellion. As a result of this shift in the setting we are introduced to a whole host of new characters, the sultan, his sons and wives in the harem, we see the return of some underused characters from book one like Tamid. This gives the book more depth as we get to know more about what the Rebellion are fighting against and the political situation across the country and the history of how we got there.
That is one of the main reasons I fell in love with this book so much, those deep political conversations between Amani and the Sultan, the context we gain about the history of the country and the role of the Demdji and how they can be used for political gain. The life within the Harem makes for fascinating reading as well as we see how the women use every advantage they can scrape to ensure they don't become usurped by a new potential wife.
The book is my favourite type of fantasy, it was driven by changing alliances and character actions rather than big battles and fighting. The endings twists and turns leave us with a really good draw to pull us back into the final book of the series with a really good OMG reveal in the last pages. We have all the players on the board now, we know them all and we really are set for the closing rounds to play out in the last book.
Really really good book, if you didn't love Rebel of the Sands and like me aren't sure of returning for book 2 please please do, it pays you back dividends with a more mature, developed and engaging book.