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Series: Rebel of the Sands #2
Published by Faber & Faber on February 2nd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.
Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince's message has spread across the desert - and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.
Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl's instinct for survival. For the Sultan's palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper's nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive... But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani's past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.
I wasn’t completely swept up in Rebel of the Sands when I first read it earlier in 2017, but this sequel packed a powerful punch in terms of world building and plot development. I’ll try to limit myself in terms of spoilers but fair warning: make sure you’ve read Rebel of the Sands before continuing forward.
The world building in this series really developed within this second book. The first book weighed heavily on introducing us to Persian culture and the gunslinging, snarky Amani, but Traitor was all about developing political discourse between the Sultan, the rebels and the foreigners. I think Rebel and Traitor could have each swapped and been a little more balanced in terms of plot and character development.
This book also relied to heavily on the weathered YA trope – the happy couple gets no further development and will have to face unnecessary difficulties throughout the middle book. Jin and Amani never felt fleshed out, they were paired together from the start but that spark that existed in Rebel was left to remain a dull and unsharpened point. I think Hamilton did a wonderful job really setting the scene and exploring the political plot devices, but failed with her characters.
I gave this book four stars, ultimately, because of the Sultan plot. Honestly there were pieces I didn’t see coming and that made me quickly jump to my copy of Hero at the Fall. It was smart writing and I was already distracted by the intricate plot the Sultan had cooked up. I suspect if you enjoyed Rebel you will enjoy both Traitor and Hero (review to come later for that last one).