‘Welcome to the Rebellion,’ I said. ‘You get used to it.’
NB: I have kept this as spoiler-free as possible but there are winks to some plotlines. Proceed at your own risk.
As mentioned in a previous post, I went against common proverb and fell in love with the cover and title of Rebel of the Sands back when it came out in early 2016. Fortunately, I fell in love with the story too.
The second instalment of Alwyn Hamilton’s trilogy was released this month and my love for this world has only continued to grow. Aside from the fact that the cover art is some of the most stunning I’ve seen, the story unfolds beautifully. Told mostly in the first person from our female lead, Amani – a desert girl who’s as skilled with a gun as she is stubborn – in Traitor To The Throne, we are also treated to a few short chapters interspersed through the book from a third person narrative. These provide depth and detail to the lore and legend of this world. It is this lore and legend that truly make this world so alive and magical. Whilst we are slowly introduced to this world in Rebel of the Sands, Traitor to the Throne is filled with much deeper history, varied characters and far more political intrigue; as Amani learns more about her world, so do we. Plots thicken and twist, myth becomes reality, and legends are born.
One of my favourite things about this book is the constant narrative of “history is written by the winners” – we pick up pieces of history as we go along, but quite often there is more to the story than common story-telling would have us believe. This theme is consistently brought up throughout the past and present, and in what Amani knows will happen to their own stories in the future depending on whether they win or lose, live or die.
The cast of characters is full of lovable misfits, strong women, flawed but beautiful people and dimensional enemies. From a long lost aunt, to the spoilt Sultim, to the Rebel Prince, these stories are full of characters whose every intention is thought out in depth by Hamilton; no one seems to act out of character, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be full of surprises. In Traitor to the Throne, we see some of our old favourites from Rebel of the Sands, of course, such as Jin – Amani’s wonderful, if somewhat flighty, love interest – and Shazad – the general’s beautiful daughter and resilient rebel soldier who becomes Amani’s closest friend – along with many new faces. But amongst these new faces, we also come across some old and surprising faces, as Amani finds enemies in strange places, and allies in places stranger still.
I don’t think I’ve found a world quite so intriguing, captivating and magical since The Oracle Prophecies by Catherine Fisher (my forever favourite). But whilst Alwyn Hamilton’s books are reminiscent of this trilogy (deserts, corrupt institutions, mythical beings and rebellion), Hamilton has created a fantasy world all of her own, so timeless and alive and full of culture; she invites you in and you instantly feel at home (the kind of ‘home’ that gets your heart racing).
Just don’t blame me when you finish Traitor and want to cry because you cannot wait another year for the next instalment.