This is a spoiler-free review and all opinions are my own.
Title: Hero at the Fall (Rebel of the Sands #3) Author: Alwyn Hamilton Publisher: Faber & Faber Publication Date: 15 February 2018 Length: 528 pages 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?
I have to say, it took me way too long to finish this book (a year) and that is never a good sign…
I loved the first book in this series – it was action-packed, gripping, and I didn’t want to put it down for anything.
The second book was a bit less engaging for me, but I did like how the story progressed nicely and I liked the character development. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Rebel of the Sands, but sequels rarely top the first book anyway so I wasn’t too concerned.
I was hoping Hero at the Fall would redeem Traitor to the Throne, however, and that did not happen.
I loved how the mythology became more pronounced and the central focus. At first we didn’t know much about Djinnies and Demdjies; we were slowly introduced to them in the first book and even moreso in the second one. But in this last one, they basically exploded in the reader’s face and it was awesome. I really like how the plot centers around the mythology so much.
I also liked the characters’ relationships, especially Amani and Shazad’s. I always love strong friendships and those two are absolute goals. They just complement each other so well!
The writing style incorporates quite a bit of storytelling, which I like because it reminds me of actual fairy tales. Besides shrouding everything with a magical veil, it also manages to flesh out the characters and their personalities even more, which was great.
I felt all the character development Amani had suffered in the earlier installments was lost here. Maybe because she was no longer the focus of the story and there was so much going on that that was no longer a priority but I just didn’t feel like she was as bold and confident in this book. She kept doubting herself and making irrational and stupid decisions that slapped her in the face almost immediately after.
One thing I struggled with this book is the same thing I struggled with the first two: the inability to connect with the characters or feel emotionally invested. I never had any trouble with the writing style or how things were presented; however, it all felt like it was happening too far away for me to care. So in the end, despite all the action, all the high stakes, all the drama – I just wasn’t fazed.
As for the main relationship (a.k.a. the romance) I just didn’t find it as great as I did in the first book? Maybe because I’m a fan of tension and slowburn, both of which were gone at this point… Or maybe it had just become a bit too mellow for me? Who knows.
The ending was satisfactory enough. I would say I would have liked it more if the narrative up until that point had been as wonderful as Rebel of the Sands was but, alas, it wasn’t so that ended up reflecting on the overall conclusion.
This book just didn’t do much for me, unfortunately. I enjoyed the mythology, writing style and character dynamics well enough, but I didn’t care much for the lack of character development, inability to feel emotionally invested or connected, and subpar ending.
Also, as a trilogy, it wasn’t very cohesive and each book felt disconnected from the others in some way. I loved Rebel of the Sands but the sequels just didn’t convince me.
This is one of those cases where there is nothing technically wrong with the book – it is sound, well planned out, and checks out all the “good writing 101” boxes. Unfortunately, that structural perfection failed to stir any emotions within me. It was, simply put, an empty work of art.
This isn’t the first time a trilogy that started with a bang ends up going completely downhill in the very last installment for me – in fact, most trilogies (and series) do. I’m even thinking of writing a post about it because it’s honestly getting ridiculous…
It’s so frustrating and honestly makes me wonder: is it me? Or do authors really not know how to write conclusions? I guess I’ll never know.
📖 Do trilogies end up disappointing you as well? Is the third book simply cursed?
📖 Have you read this trilogy? And did you feel the same way?
📖 What are some other books similar to this one that you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments below! 🙂