Palace intrigue, military stratagems, even cosmic powers can’t eclipse the complex tangle of love, loss, and loyalty in this Arabian Nights–inspired fantasy sequel.
The rebellion against the Sultan of Miraji is collapsing, but months after joining the fight, Amani is doing even worse. Her love life is faltering, her friends are on the run, and she has been captured and sold to the Sultan, who covets her half-Djinni powers. As his prisoner, she’s well-positioned to spy…if she can only conceal her identity, survive the jealousy of the harem, and stop doubting her mission. This follow-up to Rebel of the Sands (2016) retains the heroine’s snarky first-person voice and irresistible attitude while digging much deeper and darker. The appalling consequences and compromises of war are not sugarcoated, but the matter-of-fact evil within the palace may be even more horrific. Nearly every character hurts, betrays, or fails another; yet they remain sympathetic, with understandable justifications. While most (like Amani) are dark-skinned desert folk, others display ethnicities clearly analogous to various African, Asian, and European origins, a diversity fully reflected in their choices and actions. With an expanded geopolitical backdrop, intricate web of schemes, and heightened interpersonal drama, this hefty tome is almost overstuffed with plot, all building to a crescendo of heart-pounding—and heartbreaking—climaxes that will leave readers sobbing and desperate for the next volume.
A story “about revenge and about love and about sacrifice and the great and terrible things…people do”—and, ultimately, about the “truly invincible” power of stories themselves. Superlative. (Fantasy. 12 & up)