Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

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.

 

You know what’s funny? I went into this book without having previously read the synopsis, and now that I actually have I realize that I would have been disappointed, having done so earlier. Traitor to the throne is not the series-altering read it promises to be; in fact it’s a very “natural” aftermath of the first book. A well-written, but nevertheless a foreseeable one.

I can’t say I loved this book. I enjoyed its action-packed scenes and its fast pace, the change of scenery and the fact that Hamilton transferred her story to the Sultan’s court. However, and in my personal opinion, she did not take proper advantage of it. Instead of using Amani’s time in the court to masterfully get rid off some of the previous book’s problematic aspects ( i.e. its misrepresentation of the Middle East) , she fell into some more harmful tropes: pitting girls against each other, surrounding Amani by female enemies, creating women that would do anything to win over a man’s heart.

Now, bear in mind that I do not wish to disrespectfully criticize Hamilton’s work. I love the world and the mythology she has created, and I really care for almost every main character. It just rubs me the wrong way that Shazad is the only female friend Amani has and trust and that she, besides Amani, is one of the few “likeable” ones. Hala is often hostile and rude; the women of the court are all very jealous and very stereotypical, often one-dimensional; and Amani has yet to meet a woman she can trust.

My favourite part of the book ( besides every Shazad scene of course ) was showing Amani’s feelings towards the rebellion. Hamilton has done something we do not often see in YA Fantasy/Dystopia series: she has made Amani a soldier of the rebellion and not its symbol or leader. And by doing so, she gets to challenge Amani’s beliefs and faith to Ahmed and Jin and their rebellion, she gets to show us her doubts, and fears, and second-guessings. In that sense, her time in court worked wonderfully for both the story and her own personal development.

Now, did I love this book? Hm, yes I did love some parts. Is it better than its predecessor?  Yes and no. But I will definitely read its sequel and the last installment of the series.

 

**An ARCopy was provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review**

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