This is the second book to a series! I’ll let you know when the spoilers for the second book start in this review!

Title: Traitor to the Throne
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
My Rating: 5 STARS! (literally all the stars I could possibly give)

My Review: (caution this is gonna be a LONG one)
Let me just start off by saying…oh my god. This book is literally INCREDIBLE, like I don’t think you understand my love for this book. I pretty much enjoyed every single aspect of it.

If you haven’t already read the first book Rebel of the Sands, I highly recommend that you do. A word to describe the first book in this series to me, would be compelling. Rebel of the Sands was such an entertaining read with all the quirk and sass that everyone loves. We follow a main character who has the full intention to leave her town Dustwalk and is striving for a better life elsewhere. Amani has such strength and toughness to her character, but also carries this realistic nature that you can’t help but identify in yourself as well.

She disguises herself as a boy to attend a sharpshooting contest (one in which she’s obviously going to win because she legit never misses a shot) and stumbles upon a foreign boy who is a whole lot more than he seems.

That’s all I’m going to say about the first book, BUT GUYS it’s so much more than just that description. I mean I thought I loved book one but book two is even better.

The first couple of pages of this book was pretty slow, which is obviously expected since we’re being reintroduced into this world again. To me personally, I felt the book really start to pick up when we find out about the true whereabouts of Jin. Of how he willingly left camp (dick move btw which I’ll discuss more later). It’s pages later and Jin’s suddenly back…AND SHIT GOES DOWN.

Sayyida gets possessed or something, and it turns out bringing her back to the camp wasn’t the best idea. She ends up being a trap, and their home gets completely destroyed and infiltrated by their enemies. It was really heart breaking reading about Amani’s reaction to their home being destroyed, even though it was inevitable. It was nice to have that place the rebels could actually rely on.

Going into this book, I expected to see a lot of their missions, to be a part of more of them and truly see how the rebels lived their lives. And don’t get me wrong, we totally did, but it was flipped in a way where the new mission became getting Amani out of the palace. For some reason, I didn’t even think of the possibility of Amani even entering the palace (because I’m a dumbass) BUT I LOVED IT SO MUCH. It was a whole new setting and environment that we didn’t explore at all in the first novel. One with lavish chambers and the luxorious ammenmeties that come with living in a palace. It was super interesting to read about Amani’s struggle to disguise the ‘rebel’ part of herself within the palace walls, while still trying to remain true to the rebellion itself.

ONE THING THAT COMPLETELY SHOCKED ME: THE SULTAN. From all that we’ve heard about this guy, I was expecting some mad ruler who was borderline crazy, going on a killing spree every other day. But instead we got a Sultan who was acting like a father figure to Amani. Like W H A T. Is it weird for me to say that I totally loved the path the author chose for this? Who would’ve even guessed that some part of Amani wanted to impress this man who had done such terrible things to her people, and had gotten away with it? Who killed Ahmed’s mother with his bare hands.

While reading these scenes between the Sultan and Amani, I found myself wanting him to be impressed by her. Especially in the scene where she was trying to shoot from a bow and arrow. It was written in a way that we too had started to second guess Ahmed’s capability to be a ruler, and found ourselves captivated with the way the Sultan did things. Amani knew that the things the Sultan stood for was wrong and injust, but he had a persona and aura that screamed leader, she began to doubt her beliefs.

Capturing Amani’s father was such a pivotal point in her character. This man who had been absent her whole life, is now standing in front of her, about to let a blade sink into her skin, doing nothing to prevent it. I think it was after this moment in which she started to become more lenient with the Sultan, subconsiously trying to find that comfort her father never provided her with.

I felt like this whole book had that underlying tension of “What if the Sultan asks her this?” or “What if he asks her that?” My heart always started racing whenever these two had a conversation because he could seriously ask her anything and Amani would be obliged to reply, & could have exposed the rebellion whereabouts.

I was very pleased with all the new characters introduced (and the development of the old ones) especially Sam! He provided the perfect comedic lines that really helped to lighten the mood. I love how all of Alwyn Hamilton’s characters are SO much more than they seem. I thought Sam would just end up being one of those funny side characters, but then we get a chapter about his past, (WHICH WAS SO INTERESTING). I also wanted to touch on Shazad, who is probably one of my favorite characters. She’s so badass and I’m LIVING for her and Amani’s friendship.

I also really believe that Shazad and Ahmed would make the perfect couple & rulers of Miraj. I mean, they already understand each other so well, and I absolutely adore the snippets of interaction we get between them. (Even though I’m also seeing something between her and Sam, and her and Rahim. TOO MANY SHIPS! I can’t handle this!!)

Shira is a character that I wholeheartedly hated in book one, but cried so hard at her death in book two. As discussed in the book, Amani and Shira are very similar in some ways, such as their desire to get out of Dustwalk and start a life elsewhere. It’s just that they followed different paths trying to achieve it. I love Shira’s relentlessness, how strong her will to survive was, that she pretty much bested everyone. It showed how she was truly more than others thought she was, as she sacrificed her life for her son and helped the rebellion at the same time. I’m glad that Shira and Amani got that closure and true understanding of each other before she died.

Now, let’s talk about the relationship between Amani and Jin. I don’t entirely know how I feel about them. In the first book I loved their relationship, but the situation was completely different from what it is now. It used to be just the two of them trying to help the other out, whereas with this book they have a whole rebellion with them. I really, REALLY disliked the fact that Jin left Amani to die. It bothered me a lot, and kept popping back in my head whenever Jin did something cute, especially when he found her near the end of the book. I understand that it developed Jin’s character, since he willingly left in the beginning but couldn’t bear it when she was actually gone, BUT it still annoyed me. Unpopular opinion, but I was kinda hoping to see something happen between Amani and Rahim? IDK I’m kind of digging it because I love Rahim’s character so much. ❤

One of the many things I love about this book, was the fact that Amani wasn’t that single one person who could solve everything. I feel that in most YA novels, the female protagonist becomes the character who suddenly is the most brilliant person on the earth, and everyone relies on them. In this book, we have characters like Shazad and Ahmed who also take on those roles and are important for that reason. That being said, I also would love to see how Amani would handle a role of leadership as hinted in the next book.

The Sultan knowing that Amani was apart of the rebellion the whole time, is something that I did not see coming! We knew from the beginning that the Sultan is obviously an intelligent man & I remember being suspicious on why he didn’t pry Amani to tell more, but I still didn’t call it. Isn’t it known that the Blue-Eyed Bandit is from Dustwalk and didn’t Amani tell the Sultan she lived near there? I WISH I CALLED IT.

I want to fast-forward a bit to when Amani finally escapes the palace. I still don’t understand what was going on with her powers, even though it was probably due to her removing those pieces of metal FROM HER SKIN, (which is insane). Or maybe it’s something the Sultan did…

ALSO LEYLA? What the hell girl I was rooting for you! I felt so bad when they chained her up with Tamid. But she was working for the Sultan the whole time! I still feel like there’s WAY more to her character and I can’t wait to see her involvement in book 3.

The ending is something that killed me. When we found out that 6 of the rebels were captured and Ahmed was among them, my heart literally dropped. I honestly thought he was going to die BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW ALWYN HAMILTON KILLED OUR FAVES BEFORE (cough Shira cough Bahi) AND I mean it made sense! Didn’t the Jinn predict that Shira’s son would be the next Sultan?

When I saw the POV change I’m pretty sure I shedded a few tears because I was like NO WAY am I experiencing this again. Shira’s hurt too much. I really would like to read a scene with the 6 of them, Shazad, Ahmed, Delila, Imin, Navid, & Rahim, and their discussion before Imin took Ahmed’s place. It’s heartbreaking just thinking about it. CAN YOU IMAGINE READING IT. Oh my god imagine the conversation between Imin and Navid. OMG I need to stop thinking about this before I start crying again.

I honestly feel like nobody’s going to read this extremely messed up and grammatically incorrect review but at least I got to discuss this…with myself. *insert awkward smile*

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