Legends were never what you expected when you saw them up close. I was no exception.
Second in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, you definitely want to have read the first in the series before you dive into this one. While the first drops you into this world filled with supernatural beings, our heroine Amani is a demdji, daughter of a human woman and male djinn, and country at war. This first was a lot of action and I felt a little lost as the world building and explanations felt a little forgotten. This second one still had action in it but it slows down a bit with a focus on the characters and we get to know the other side, the father of the Rebel Prince, the Sultan.
‘The world is a lot more complicated than it seems when you are seventeen, Amani.’
Amani is captured and spends the majority of the book as a prisoner in the Sultan's harem. The conversations she has with the Sultan were some of my favorite parts of this books, I love when the villains are given more depth, not just evil caricatures. I thought it was very interesting how the author had Amani having an internally battle about what she was fighting for; analytical conflict makes things more compelling.
I’d move the whole world to make up for what I’d done to Tamid. But I wouldn’t ever give it up for him. Not for anyone. The difference was, Jin had never asked me to. He’d taken my hand to show it to me instead.
If you're looking for a lot of Jin and Amani, you're going to be a bit disappointed, they spend the majority of the book apart. Jin kind of gets the shaft in this book and while I thought all the other characters had great insights and depth explored, he was left out in the cold. When Amani is captured and he “disappears” I was disappointed in how vague and forced his absence seemed to be to keep Amani in the harem, his whereabouts and reasons are given like a sentence to explain it away and didn't make a lot of sense. However, when they are on the page together, they spark enticingly.
He stood as tall as one of the huge pillars down here in this ancient palace vault. Only he wasn’t just holding up a palace. He was holding up the world. One of God’s First Beings who had made the First Mortal. Who had made all of mankind. Who’d made me.
There was a lot of tales, myth, and history weaved into this, at times I thought it helped with the world building and others it seemed to make things unnecessarily clogged with extra characters and more supernatural ethos that was hard to keep track of. It does set-up the third book nicely though with a new challenge for our Rebel crew and potential for a huge battle.
‘The trouble with belief is that it’s not the same as truth.’
Even though it changed the action pace of the first to a more slowed down get to know the characters pace, I really enjoyed this second addition to the trilogy. There is a huge cast of characters and magical world to keep straight and track of but I believe this is worth the effort. I can't wait to read the third where we, hopefully, get more Jin and Amani, and the conclusion to the Rebel Prince's battle for a country.
On that day, a hundred thousand men and women would come to watch and each would tell the story of what they saw there.