This is the second novel in Alwyn Hamilton's Rebel of the Sands series. A western plonked in the middle of the desert with some Jinni folklore mixed in. Yes. I know how amazing that sounds.
Both novels take place in the perspective of Amani, a sharpshooter from the derelict town of Dustwalk who's only goal was to escape the city and her overbearing relatives. Her plan to escape involved using her skills with a gun to win a contest and all was going fine until her plan was derailed by a mysterious foreigner.
Amongst readers in general there is always this fear that the second book in a series will fall into the trap of being a 'filler book', a stop gap until the action picks up again. Admittedly, I'm a reader who often feels this anxiety. Traitor to the Throne completely dispelled my worries within the first few pages.
This novel had all the action of the first book and more besides. You could definitely see the growth in the writing too. So many unexpected twists and turns that were weaved so well into the plot. Very often I found myself wondering how I hadn't noticed this before. I loved how folklore/fairytales were used as part of the narrative and became an integral part of the novel.
I didn't realise how much I'd missed this world and the characters until I was immersed in the story again. Watching Amani grow as a person and when it came to her heritage was brilliant to see. I also thoroughly enjoyed the moments of doubt she had throughout the novel. It made her seem a lot more real and easier to relate too. The new characters introduced were very interesting and also expanded the world a little more which was good. Shazad is definitely one of my favourite characters. I love how she uses the fact that the men in the novel underestimate her. They're blinded by her looks and so don't see how sharp witted she is.
Plot wise this novel was outstanding, it felt so cohesive. Especially the ending, I have never felt so many emotions in such quick succession. The only thing that would've improved my reading of the novel was if I'd re-read Rebel of the Sands just before this. I'd forgotten a few details but thats just down to me.