Hero at the Fall Review

Hero at the Fall has undoubtedly been my most anticipated read of 2018. So anticipated that I put reading the book off until now.

That may seem strange but here’s the thing: what if it had been a disappointment? I’d heard mixed reviews and this series has been one of my favourites over the last few years, I wasn’t quite ready to be disappointed when it was first released over summer, and I definitely wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Amani and her rebellion.

However my worries for it being a disappointment were totally fruitless in the end, because I loved this stunning conclusion to an incredible series. Amani and friends left with a bang, in a cloud of gun smoke and dessert dust which couldn’t have been more perfect.

We would be stories long after we were gone. Imperfect, inaccurate stories. Stories that could never even come close to reality

The story itself opens with the rebellion at it’s worse: moral is low as a valuable rebel demendji has just been executed, most of the important players have been captured and the Sultan is at his most powerful, with an army of unstoppable clay men at his side. It seems Amani stands no chance when she steps up to lead what is left of the rebels.

While the first novel showed us Amani’s bravery, and the second demonstrated her loyalty, this novel tests her determination. With the tides turning against the rebellion and every decision she makes seeming to be the wrong one, it proves difficult for them to hope to find their leader, and even harder for her to find him alive. To make matters worse she can’t forget the rebellion’s overall aim, which is to remove the Sultan from power, another seemingly impossible task.

“We were like faded pictures in a book that had lost a lot of its gilt” -Amani

The writer has chosen to develop an unusual plethora of characters in this novel. We don’t see the struggle that Shazard or the Rebel Prince go through, instead we watch Amani, Sam, Jin and Hala learn how to lead the rebellion, testing their loyalty and friendship to ultimately prove they can win alone. Because the novel is centred on so few characters their development is clearly marked and the reader can understand their aims and personal struggles better. The loyalty they show, the sacrifices they make and characters they become make it even harder when the reader is faced with their losses.

The characters lives and deaths are sometimes narrated in ‘aside’ chapters in a story tale fashion. These chapters, dipicting how these characters’ stories are later told throughout Maraji, further add to the reader’s perception of the characters and gives the novel a story telling vibe. More of this world’s folk lore is interwoven in the plot of the novel also compared to the others in the series, adding an unusual element. I’ve read reviews that have found these chapters detracting from the novel but I, personally, found them powerful. Depicting a character’s death in this way made it even more shocking and the short snippets of stories provided a fresh style that I haven’t read before.

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

I have two small gripes with an otherwise fantastic novel. My first would be the typos. I am not normally a reader who picks up on typos but I found the book riddled with them and wondered, in places, if the writing could have been neatened up. I don’t know if this is true, but the novel read like it had been written in a rush. The elegant phrases I had come to enjoy in Alwyn Hamilton’s writing became sparse in this novel and the descriptions more clunky in places than necessary. This wasn’t a massive issue because the plot was still good and character’s felt fleshed out, but their was an element of finesse this novel lacked that felt prominent in its predecessors.

My second would be Leyla. She seemed like a strong character bent on survival at the end of Traitor to the Throne, but she became weaker as the plot went on, reduced to traipsing behind the rebellion while whining until finally falling on seduction for her survival. Perhaps because she was an engineer, I felt she could have been a strong female character (because, after all, strong female characters don’t always have to be good) but instead felt like she was the embodiment of the stereotypes this novel has done so well at fighting. I felt her putting up more of a fight, verbally if nothing else, wouldn’t have removed anything from the plot but would have made me endlessly happier.

However, these are minor details and overall I enjoyed the novel a lot. In an attempt to end my review on a good point I’ll finally touch on Jin and Amani’s relationship. In my review for Traitor to the Throne I said I found them annoying but in this novel I think this was redeemed. I thought it was refreshing in YA to read about a relationship after the girl has snagged the unbelievably handsome prince. It wasn’t pushed to the side like other novels I’ve read, they were still struggling to make it work and it was nice to have the odd detail dotted in that this was a worry for them. It wasn’t too prominent in the novel and didn’t take anything away from the plot but I liked the fact that their personal lives was a consideration and their overall worries about making it work out felt very normal.

But he wondered if a boy from the sea and a girl from the desert could ever survive together. He feared that she might burn him alive or that he might drown her. Until finally he stopped fighting it and set himself on fire for her.

Overall I’d give this novel 4 stars, but very close to five and recommend the series to anyone. I think it will be a firm favourite with me for quite a while.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Let’s Compare Notes

Have you read this novel or any in the series? Is it on your tbr? What do you think of my review? Would love to hear your opinion in the comments section!

Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

“I thought of Shazard. My sister in arms. We had recognised something in each other the first time we met and we were tied. By more than blood.” – Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

traitor
synopsis

Amani finds herself captured and sold to the Sultan she is rebelling against for her Djinni powers. Trapped behind enemy ranks, Ahmed is presented with the perfect spy for discovering why the Sultan is collecting Demdji, providing she can keep her motives hidden and her temper in check. With little help from her fellow rebels, Amani undertakes the most dangerous mission yet: convincing the Sultan she’s loyal. While uncovering the truth behind the Sultan’s plot and staying alive in the palace, Amani soon learns just how much her rebellion has underestimated their tyrannous ruler.

seriesrecap

In case you read Rebel of the Sands donkeys years ago and have no idea who’s rebelling against which sand, I’ll fill you in. Amani is our gun slinging protagonist who lives in the mythical dessert country of Miraji. Miraji is overrun with magic fearing invaders and poverty, thanks to it’s tyrannical Sultan. Amani makes a bid for freedom with shockingly handsome love interest Jin, heading to the countries capital in the hope of a new life.

She doesn’t get very far before she discovers she’s everything her country hates: a Demdji, the daughter of a magical being. With some persuasion from Jin and a little hatred for her Sultan, she joins the Sultan’s rebellious son to try and free her country. The book ends with Amani unleashing her newly discovered Demdji power on the Sultan’s army and earning herself a high rank in the rebellion.

goodbits

 The Writing Style- As I’ve said with Rebel of the Sands, Traitor to the Throne is insanely well written. The writing is as captivating as ever and story rolled off the page like truth to a Demdji (hehe, see what I did there?). It’s just brilliant. How Alwyn Hamilton can make most of a 500 page book about politics and meetings so entertaining I will never understand.

❤ Shazard and Amani’s Relationship– One of my favourite things in this novel was to see how close the members of the rebellion have become. Amani and Shazard’s relationship was one of my favourites, they have such a supportive and understanding friendship which is entirely mutual- unlike Tamid and Amani, where Amani was basically using him while he planned their future marriage.

❤ Sam- Sam’s backstory, cleverly depicted as a folk tale, explains how he lives of the stupidity and carelessness of the rich as he impersonates a popular legend. I loved his character and his character development, finally becoming a loyal rebellion member and even showing selfless bravery in the closing scenes of the novel.

❤ The plot twist- This book has so many hidden corners that I rarely knew where to look. I guessed a few of the things going on, but I was completely taken aback by most of the twists that happen (although I’m very gullible so you might want to judge this one for yourself).

badbits

😥 Amani and Jin- I have one gripe in this novel and that was Amani and Jin’s relationship. Jin doesn’t seem to really know Amani’s character all that well and misjudges her loyalty to Ahmed quite a lot- thinking she’d throw the rebellion away over a petty feud at one point. Amani could have really done with him in this novel and he just disappoints.

conclusion

Overall, I loved this novel. It was gripping, exciting and despite being quite thick I raced through it. Although I’m not a big Jin fan he didn’t get much page time and the novel mostly focusses on Amani’s espionage attempts, which were great.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Brilliant sequel to Rebel of the Sands, very engaging and definitely doesn’t disappoint!

similarreads

The Hunger Games (if you haven’t read it) is very similar to this novel, being equally well written and hosting lots of rebellion. If you’re looking for a more magical fix then I’d recommend A Darker Shade of Magic, which is also fast pace and filled with magical monarchies.

comparenotes

Have you read Traitor to the Throne or Rebel of the Sands? Did you find Jin annoying in either book, or is that just me?

rebel

Traitor to the Throne is a sequel.

Read my review for the first in the series: Rebel of the Sands!

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I believe money and guns get you a lot further in a war than magic these days. – Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Rebel of the Sands is fast pace, full of action, excitement and, of course, rebellion. Very well written and perfect to engage any YA reader who is struggling to find a book that really grabs their attention.

For me, the quote above really sums up the book. Also, it’s ironic and I love irony.

In this novel we follow the dessert hardened Amani as she leaps from trains, grabs passing magical horses and shoots impossible shots of bottles off walls all in her desperate attempt to be free of her run down, boring town of a home, Dustwalk. She’s a gun slinging protagonist I can really get behind.

Alwyn Hamiliton is an amazing writer. The book captured me from the start and I’d finished it in a matter of days. If you’re in a reading slump and just need something to get you back into books again then I recommend this (I also recommend it if you’re not in a slump, because it’s amazing). It’s fast pace, quick, and you’ll be glad to know the romance isn’t the entirety of the plot. 100% love triangle free.

The premise isn’t exactly new. There’s an awful regime in charge, a strong, teen, female protagonist and an unbelievably good looking love interest. Ok it’s a bit familiar to Katniss, Tris and the rest of the line up. BUT it is done well. It’s got it’s own spin- there’s a dessert and magic and, as far as I can tell, there’s been no collapse of civilisation as we know it so it’s not dystopian. Maybe it’s following the set formula of a YA novel for today’s readers, but it’s a pretty good formula.

The plot to this novel hits the sweet spot of fast pace action and slower scenes. Although the book goes from chase scenes to fight scenes and back again I didn’t feel like it was too packed together. I was able to appreciate Amani’s thoughts, the world building and the character development that was occurring as Amani first stepped out into the real world.

Looking back, I’m surprised that the novel encompasses the explanation of a whole fantasy world, a wicked ruler, novel magic system, Amani’s past and Amani’s daring escape all in this short novel. It may be packed but it’s definitely doesn’t feel rushed.

Amani and Jin, who the plot revolves around, both start as strong characters who trust no-one and need no-one. It’s only when they are flung together that they start to realise that there’s safety in numbers and this character development further embellishes the plot. I found it easy to get behind this  and Amani’s slow trust of Jin makes the plot twists even more powerful and unexpected.

If you’re a fan of dystopians or fantasy YA I suspect this novel will be right up your street. A definite 5 stars from me.

But what about you? Have any of you read it and did you enjoy it? If you haven’t read it, what are you reading? Thanks for taking the time to read my review!