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.
This is the sequel to the amazing Rebel of the Sands, but with a very different feel. Luckily, I loved it and the different pace and setting just added to the world-building. Hamilton has once again proved her excellent story telling skills and added a complicated plot. There was also a mad mix of characters, including a few more and the re-emergence of some old faces, but not nearly enough Jin!
As Amani is in the palace, being held hostage, she is able to play victim and send information back to the rebel camp. In doing so, she comes to understand more about the hierarchy and power trips in the palace. She also gets in close with the Sultan, who was such an interesting character. We already knew he was a bit of a douche in book one but seeing him face to face and actually getting to know him, Amani starts to feel conflicted because he actually does just want what is best for his country. It turns out he's doing it all wrong, but still! The fact that is it wasn't all in black and white, and giving the villain a heart was very clever and well written.
The ending made me cry - just a warning! After most of the book was a game of political and magical cat and mouse, the final battle for escape was gut-wrenching. What I loved most about this book was that it didn't feel like a filler; even though the pace had slowed down compared to the first book, Amani was learning things about the rebellion and herself, moving the plot and character development along nicely.
I adored this book - I know there are some very mixed reviews out there, and while I did miss the gun-slinging action of book one, I really loved the political games and the development of the magical lore in this book. I did miss Jin though, but I think Amani proved herself in this one, cut off from her support but still determined to help the rebels and her friends, even at risk to her own life. With everything set up for the finale, all I can say is: bring it on!
Published 2nd February 2017 by Faber and Faber.