Review: Hero at the Fall (#3) by Alwyn Hamilton

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir.
The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself.
Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero…
In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in, but with the rebellion in pieces, and the Sultan’s armies advancing across the desert plains, who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

My first thought after finishing this series is it is so underrated. I found them on a table in a bookshop years ago, and have heard little about them since, especially online. I enjoyed this more than some of the biggest YA fantasy/dystopian series and they should definitely have more hype! First of all, this series has been so unique and I loved the fact it was set in a desert. The worldbuilding in this series has been excellent and I could picture the desert and palace so clearly.

One of my favourite parts of this series was the friendship group, which had a real found family aspect to it. Although in this particular book I felt there was a little lack of character development and some of the side characters were a little interchangeable, the main few I really liked. Their banter and discussions felt natural and even made me chuckle in places. The end of the book was absolute roller-coaster and I had tears in my eyes in places. I really liked Amani and Jin’s relationship and the connection they had was beautifully written.

But even if the desert forgot a thousand and one of our stories, it was enough that they would tell of us at all. 

This last book was definitely the most action filled, which made it a very quick read. But unfortunately for me, I didn’t like it quite as much as the second, which I think was my favourite. I tend to prefer character focused books that I can feel a real connection to, rather than action packed books that leave me feeling a little disconnected from the characters. That’s how I felt about this book, just a little too disconnected from the characters to enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. The last part of this book almost made up for the parts I didn’t find quite so clear, but not quite. The ending reminded me of the end of Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses when you just don’t know what is going to happen to the characters, or whether they will be okay.

Amani was an amazing, strong, brave female main character throughout this whole series, and she was one of my favourite things about it. She was such a great role model and I love how Jin complemented her but it was always clear she could be just fine on her own. It is subtle and in the background of the books until they are together and they burn so brightly, I loved seeing them together.

That long after our deaths, men and women sitting around a fire would hear that once, long ago, before we were all just stories, we lived.

Overall, I really liked this series. It was such a unique twist on YA fantasy and I haven’t read anything else quite like it. Also, it’s worth mentioning the covers are drop dead gorgeous!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Traitor to the Throne (#2) by Alwyn Hamilton

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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’m reading this series with Alex and we’re really enjoying it! I liked Rebel of the Sands a lot but I wasn’t sure where this story would go. However, I actually enjoyed this more than the first book. It was even more of an emotional rollercoaster with so many twists and turns, me and Alex were messaging each other every day with our reactions and there were a lot of ‘did you get to this bit yet?’ messages too. Having read the first book, I felt a lot less daunted by this one and enjoyed it a lot more than going into the first one with no background to the characters and their story.

Again, I loved Amani as a main character. She is such a strong female lead, and the romance takes a backseat but I still really like the relationship Amani and Jin have. It feels like Amani is complemented by Jin rather than being supported by him, which I really liked. I also loved the supporting cast of characters yet again, and Sam was a great addition to the story. I feel like having a new character introduced into the second book in the series really helps boost the story and Sam made me laugh so much.

But then, this was what the desert did to us. 

I really liked the setting of this book. Rather than being the wider desert, it’s set in a palace which I loved. I felt like I could picture the palace so clearly and having the majority of the book being set in the palace helped a lot. I definitely preferred it being set around the palace than the wider desert! Looking back, I feel like this book should have been a slow burner. But although it’s hard to tell with this being a buddy read and reading a set amount of pages a day, I feel like this was actually quite a quick read. I just wanted to keep reading as this book just had so much tension.

Once again in this book, I really liked the found family element of this story. Even though Amani is on her own in the palace throughout this, she is surrounded from a distance by her supportive friends. I couldn’t help but feel a little emotional in places but genuinely chuckle to myself in others. These books kind of have it all!

It made us dreamers with weapons.

I’m very glad to say this book definitely didn’t have second book syndrome, and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see what the last book has to give!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Rebel of the Sands (#1) by Alwyn Hamilton

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Goodreads | Waterstones

A sharpshooter. A dreamer. A damn good liar.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it s an unforgiving place, especially if you re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al Hiza is all three. She s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she s destined to wind up wed or dead.Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she d gallop away on a mythical horse or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew. 

This book is one of those I picked up years ago, read a bit and decided to put down. At the time, I just couldn’t get into the story and knew I would get more out of it at another time. And luckily, I was right! I still understand why I didn’t get into this the first time, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I bought this whole series as it came out as they have absolutely stunning covers and I felt confident I would enjoy the story at a different time! Now I’ve read a lot more fantasy, I felt a lot less daunted by this series. I buddy read this with Alex which was so much fun! We’re reading the whole series together over the next few weeks which I’m really excited for.

I still felt like the start of this book definitely threw me in at the deep end and felt a little bit of an odd place to start. This book starts in an intense scene and I understand why I put it down the first time. However, after 50 pages ago, the first scene ends and it also felt like the book was starting again. It’s hard to explain, but the start of the next ‘day’ in the book felt like a fresh start to the story and look at Amani.

Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. 

I really enjoyed reading about Amani as a female main character, who was determined, strong and individual. The romance took a real backseat to the story which I enjoyed, and I felt like it didn’t take anything away from Amani as an individual. The world building was spot on and the world felt so tangible. I could picture it so clearly and it felt like such a rich description.

I also enjoyed reading about the diverse cast of characters, especially Amani and Jin. But later on in the story, I liked the group of friends who had a ‘found family’ feel to them! I really enjoyed the plot and this book just felt like it had more and more to give. I also found the writing really easy to read and felt it was a brilliant way of writing a high fantasy novel. It felt accessible which is exactly what I want from fantasy!

Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.

I’m so glad that I’ve finally started to read this series and it definitely gave me a pleasant surprise after I put it down all those years ago. I’m looking forward to reading more of the series and I can’t wait to see where this story goes!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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