Goodreads: Traitor to the Throne
Series: Rebel of the Sands #2
Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.
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 Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.
Traitor to the Throne brings readers right back into the action-packed rebellion with Amani, her Rebel Prince, and their talented crew. Though it has been awhile since I read Rebel of the Sands, the plot begins basically where it left off, and I was able to pick up the strands quickly. The story is filled with all the good things that made the first book come to life: magic, romance, danger, and the weight of history.
There is a setting shift in this novel, and I understand why some readers who fell in love with the desert and Old West town feel of the first novel were disappointed to see it go in the sequel; I was a bit sad myself. However, Hamilton makes the transition to palace harem and court intrigue incredibly well and proves that she is a master of the fantasy genre.
I like court intrigue in general, but Traitor to the Throne gives a very compelling look at the Sultan’s harem and what women do to survive in such a tenuous position and cutthroat environment. Amani and her rebel friends show one type of strength, wielding knives and guns and magical powers, but the women in the harem work with something else: beauty and cunning and the will to survive. The treatment of women, their apparently disposable nature, is not pretty in this world, but Hamilton shows that strength comes in many different shapes, and I adored it.
Favorite characters from Rebel of the Sands come back in Traitor to the Throne, and it is wonderful to see them continue to grow. There are some new ones, as well, and they are all crafted with finesse and attention to making them multi-faceted. The Sultan in particular is interesting, and readers finally get to see situation from his point of view—why he has made the decisions he has while ruling the country, and whether he thinks they were right or would go back if he could. Hamilton delves into the complexity of politics and shows that there are not always black and white, easy answers.
The prose is still choppy in a way I cannot quite describe, an issue I had with Rebel of the Sands, as well, but overall the plot, characters, and world building carry the book enough that this is just a minor irritation rather than a deal-breaker.
Traitor to the Throne is a strong installment in what I can only assume will be a strong series through to the end. I look forward to reading Amani’s next adventure and to seeing more writing from Hamilton.