* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Release Date: February 4th 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 was lucky enough to have this granted as a wish on NetGalley (just like the first book!), so big thanks to them and the publisher for the opportunity to read it.
I loved Rebel of the Sands last year and was itching to get my hands on the sequel. It’s been a while since I read the first book and it did take me a little while to ease back into the world and characters. I couldn’t quite remember who everyone was or what had happened, but luckily there’s a little recap and character guide at the start of this book, which I appreciated. More sequels need that!
The book plunges straight into the action, which threw me a little a first but I soon got into the swing of things. My gripe was that I couldn’t figure out how much time had passed since the last book. Worse, some big stuff had gone down between Amani and Jin and we weren’t privvy to any of it: it all happened between books and we just saw the fallout of it. It was a bit frustrating, but I still loved their relationship.
After seeing Amani discover her powers in the last book, way this book explored the Djinni powers and rules. Having to obey orders under certain circumstances, being unable to lie, powers of disguise and illusion: it all makes for one fascinating read with so many twists you could never tell where it was going next.
I love the intrigue and intricacies of the court, the relationships there and the balance and fight for power, trying to figure out who was lying and who could be trusted. It’s so different from the dessert world and rebel camp of the first book but I still enjoyed it, even if I did miss Amani having a gun in her hand. She proved that she was capable of looking after herself without any weapons or powers at all, and that just makes her all the more dangerous and awesome.
While I did miss some of the characters from the last book – Jin, Ahmed etc – who don’t appear as much, there were some amazing new characters and the return of a few I didn’t expect. I won’t spoil those here but man, I learned to love/respect a character I didn’t think I could! The book was full of myth and stories too that really bring the world to life: I can fully believe this is a real, functioning world and not something made just to tell this one story. It has history and depth and I just want to disappear into it.
The best part of the book was Amani’s relationship with the Sultan. For someone who was built up as evil in the last book… I weirdly kind of liked him. And that’s what made him so dangerous. Even Amani found herself coming round to his way of thinking sometimes and that’s what made him so formidable: he was persuasive and somehow made you crave his approval.
The ending was so incredible. It was the perfect climax of thinking their grand plan was going to work and then seeing everything falling around their feet. My heart was actual pounding as I finished the last page and I can’t believe I’ll have to wait a year or more for the sequel. Write fast, Alwyn!
If you’ve not picked up this series yet then do it now, it’s unlike any YA I’ve ever read and I can’t get enough the characters and the rich, beautiful world.