Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn HamiltonTraitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #2
Published by Viking Juvenile on March 7, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, Western
Pages: 528
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

Mere months ago, 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 djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

Before diving into Traitor to the Throne, I reread Rebel of the Sands. Upon reread, I agree with past opinions, but it all flowed so much better than I remembered. It took me a while to settle into Hamilton’s style the first time, but this time I was primed for maximum enjoyment. Hamilton shoots second book syndrome in the fucking face with a fantastically plotted, action-packed sequel that improves on an already fantastic first installment.

The main flaw of Rebel of the Sands was that the pace sometimes went too fast, but the quick pace is also one of the strengths of the series. Even on reread, I binged through Rebel of the Sands in one brief sitting, on the edge of my seat. Traitor to the Throne shares this strength and weakness. Despite being a serious chunkster, Traitor the Throne doesn’t feel long. It goes down smooth, like a shot of really fancy liquor.

However, the time in this series sometimes suddenly moves by months at a time, leaving you confused for a moment. Traitor to the Throne opens with a brief recap, done in a clever style, of book one. That was really thoughtful of Hamilton. But then the recap keeps going, and Traitor recaps a number of events that happened between Rebel and Traitor. Like, seriously, in between the two books, there was a battle and Amani almost DIED. It was a really disorienting way to start. It did feel at times like this series should perhaps consist of more books, because Hamilton clearly has so much more plotted out than hit the pages. Also in that period of time skipped, a character fell in love. I would have loved to see that happen!

Aside from the blistering pace, Traitor to the Throne excels across the board. Hamilton is clearly from my favorite school of plotting, AKA The School of Everything Going Wrong All the Damn Time. Imo, crappy plots are the ones where things unfold precisely as they need to for the good guys to emerge victorious. In Traitor to the Throne, shit goes wrong from the start to the end basically. Well, no, things go sort of okay in the first scene to lull everyone into a false sense of security.

Add the fact that Amani and crew are doomed basically to the nearly constant action, and I defy you to not read through this book with a swiftness. What’s cool is that, though I  know things probably wouldn’t go as smoothly as planned, I never knew precisely how they would go. A couple twists blindsided me, as did a few things that weren’t actually twists per se. To be fair, I’m easy to trick when I’m actually invested, but still for me this was boss.

One of my favorite aspects of Traitor to the Throne was meeting the Sultan. He was a distant figure of awfulness and villainy in the first book, but here he’s a major character. Writers can struggle with well-developed villains. Creating one who’s semi-sympathetic, or at least understandable, is really tricky, and Hamilton pulls it off beautifully. The Sultan explains his reasoning for some of his choices, and he’s admittedly compelling and makes some good points. It’s not enough to make you root for him to win, but it does provide a new way to consider the political implications of the rebellion and adds lovely complexity to the story.

Character-wise, I’m very attached to this cast of characters, though I haven’t reached the flaily state of being. The characters are great, but, because the pace moves so incredibly fast, you don’t get to know anyone but Amina quite well enough to enter that scary place of deep investment. I do very much enjoy Sam, and his ship a-brewin, but I’d love a few more scenes where people hang out and banter. It would also have been nice if Jin and Amina had had enough time together to actually talk through their issues, rather than getting over it because of the fear of almost dying sixty million times in five hundred pages.

The Rebel of the Sands series cements itself as one of my favorite currently running fantasy series. I have a mighty need for book three, which I hope ups the badassery yet again, but maybe provides a few more quiet moments too.

Favorite Quote:

“I wouldn’t point fingers if I were you. You know what they say: those who point fingers wind up with them broken so badly they point straight back at them.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:



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