Rebel of the Sands (#1)
Traitor to the Throne (#2)
Amani is caught behind the Sultan’s fiery dome with the rest of her small army. Ahmed and their other leaders have been captured and transported outside of the city, and out of reach of their rescue efforts. She, Jin, and the rest must find a way out of the city without being burned by the dome, reunite with their leaders, rekindle the rebellion, and march on the city to dethrone the Sultan.
Amani is still having trouble with her sand powers after being attacked and operated on by the Sultan in Traitor to the Throne. She can use them, but it causes pain in her side which limits how much power she can access and for how long. Luckily she has no problem using a gun, and her skills get them out of quite a few scrapes.
In this book, the Djinni play a much larger role. We meet an ancient Djinni that has been imprisoned by his kin, and because Amani frees him he agrees to help her find and free her friends and to help their rebellion succeed. She kind of knows that he must have ulterior motives, as all Djinni tend to do, but her need to see Ahmed through to the throne is greater than her suspicions.
I waited a very long time to read this book after finishing Traitor to the Throne in March of this year (2018), but the story has been so wonderfully and vividly told all along that picking it up after that long of a break was not a problem at all. Hamilton continues with the political complexity – this isn’t just a barge in and take over rebellion. Ahmed has concerns and worries, and takes the time to consider how things will change and what should stay the same once they remove the Sultan from power. He consults with all members of his leadership team to make sure he’s making the right choices. This is a compelling theme in this trilogy and is missing from many other “save the world” type narratives.
Along those same lines I was glad to see Amani let go of her guilt. Her understanding that their efforts will have costs and consequences was another welcome addition to the story. Constant character moaning about how everything is their fault and how people wouldn’t be dead if they hadn’t made the decision they made is so fucking tedious. It’s necessary for a bit, especially considering that these characters are just kids and would need to wrestle with these realities, but after enough people die you come to the realization that this is just the way things are and you can either accept them, or make sure that the people who have paid the price of rebellion haven’t died for nothing. In this way each character is given agency, which makes the story even more powerful when one of them dies or chooses to sacrifice themselves. I refuse to give away who those characters are but this book will make you cry if you don’t like goodbyes.
The ending was a little Deus Ex Machina for my tastes but it wasn’t so outrageous that I didn’t enjoy it. One of the final scenes had me sobbing in bed (I have been getting most of my reading done right before I go to sleep). It’s been a long time since a book has moved me so much emotionally. I loved every character by the end and I wanted them all to be okay and have good lives after everything was over. By the end, it was like they were all family.
I strongly recommend this trilogy. It has the perfect combination of fun and complexity to keep you reading as well as make an impression so you’ll want to come back and read them again. I’m adding them to my “must own” Amazon list. Go get you some.
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