Book Review: Traitor to the Throne

traitor to the throneTraitor to the Throne
by Alwyn Hamilton
Fantasy
513 pages
Published March 2017

This is the sequel to Rebel of the Sands, which I read several weeks ago. The conclusion to the trilogy, Hero at the Fall, came out in March, and I’m waiting patiently for a copy from the library. (Okay, so maybe it’s impatiently, but I’m waiting!)

I love so much about this book. I always love non-western style fantasy, and this one is definitely middle-east inspired, with its djinni and deserts and fancy khalats. (A khalat is a loose, long-sleeved silk or cotton robe worn over the rest of your clothing.) The Demdji – the children of djinni and humans – are all fascinating, with interesting powers. And fantasy politics, at the highest of possible levels!

Amani is a fascinating main character, with her control over sand, her personal ethics, and her personal conflicts. She’s the daughter of a djinni, and we actually meet djinni for the first time in this book! I liked her love story better in Rebel of the Sands – it seemed very muted in this book, but they did spend most of the book apart. I am eager to see where that part of the plot goes in HatF.

There were a couple of twists that surprised me – who the titular traitor was, for one. The book was full of traitors of one kind or another. I also really liked seeing palace and harem life; the first book focused on desert backwaters and outlaws, so this was quite a change, and I liked it. I’m still half in love with Prince Ahmed, though we meet his half-brother Rahim in the palace, and he’s growing on me. The Sultan himself also surprised me; I expected a villainous, power-mad ruler, and he is not that. He seemed to surprise Amani, too.

I was excited to see the djinni actually make an appearance; I’d expected them to stay an abstract idea for the entire trilogy! They certainly never showed up in the first book. I mean, it was obvious they still came to humans, or Demdji couldn’t exist, but no one, even the mothers, ever spoke about seeing or interacting with them. Even to their half-djinni children. I’m hoping this means they’ll play a bigger role in the third book, because after the small glimpse we get here, I really want to know more about them!

Like most of the other reviews I’ve read, I agree that this wasn’t as strong as the first one, but middle books in trilogies rarely are. It is a solid volume, though, with lots of plot advancement and world-building and politicking. Can’t wait to get the concluding book!

From the cover of Traitor to the Throne:

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.

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