Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Published by Harper Voyager on November 14, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Sexual Content: Kissing, references to rape
Reviewed by: Kate
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .
If I was rating the first half of THE CITY OF BRASS, it wouldn't get very many stars. I nearly put the book down at 25% and never picked it up again - but this book has received a lot of love lately, and I wanted so very much to like it that I pushed through. And I am so glad I did. By the end of THE CITY OF BRASS, I understood the hype and I was reading this book like it was the air I need to live.
THE CITY OF BRASS is fantasy straight up, with a ton of political intrigue, complicated relationships, and ambiguously moral characters. The reason the first half dragged for me (once you get past the first three chapters or so, which are pretty engaging and action-packed) was there is a lot of world-building. As it switched back and forth between the two main narrators, there is a lot of information given to the reader. As I got more drawn in, I compared it to a very rich chocolate cake. It's delicious, and you really want to eat it, but you know you can't in large quantities. That's how I felt about the book - in order to absorb all the information I was being given, it was important that I didn't try to overindulge.
But the second half of the book - oh, the second half. This is where all the set up pays off. Even somebody who didn't totally understand all the political machinations (me) was able to feel the emotions and enjoy the action and drama that ensued. Fight scenes and sly remarks and secret friendships abound! And the ending - I was gutted. For a book I felt like I almost had to force myself to get into, I am desperate for book two, and am dying to know what is going to happen next.
I'm not sure I can say too many good things about this book, especially the characters. The complex characters - including those who seemed terrible - were able to elicit my sympathy because of the situations they were in. Chakraborty never gave any of them an easy out. Nahri, one of the main narrators, is one of my new favorite heroines. She is a strong, amazing woman who starts to come into her own by the end of the book (the last line before the epilogue!). I absolutely could not get enough of her point of view chapters. Even Ali, the other narrator, who grated on my nerves a bit in the beginning, had me falling so hard for him by the end. The transitions and growth of the various characters was amazing and definitely the strongest part of THE CITY OF BRASS.
My advice - use the glossary at the back if you get a little confused (maybe take some notes of which character is which tribe, that kind of thing). But definitely do not miss this masterpiece of a fantasy book - a beautiful, Middle Eastern inspired piece of writing that is both delightful and devastating (in the best possible way). The only reason this book didn't get five bats from me was the beginning, but in the end, it is totally worth it.Series Titles:
- The City of Brass
- The Kingdom of Copper
- For more Middle Eastern inspired world-building, try THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON by Saladin Ahmed.