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…
“Greatness takes time, Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty
I had a high expectation for this book because it’s a strong recommendation from a close friend, and I’m more than glad that it wasn’t a fail, and this book deserves all the recognition it’s getting from those who’ve read it. It’s just so well-written and mesmerizing that I practically ate this book up. I also read this book alongside its audiobook, and the narrator has done an exquisite job in bringing this book even more to life, greatly complimenting an already beautiful story.
The City of Brass is one heck of a beautiful historical fantasy novel – something I always love seeing in books when they combine the familiar history and culture of the real world with fantastical elements. While it focused mostly on its own world, the real life elements, such as the places and the current political situation within the human world during this time period, gave this book a nice touch to make it more interesting and immersive. I’ve always been a fan of any Middle Eastern settings in my novels, and this was such full of that rich culture that it hooked me immediately from the very first chapter. It felt like I was in the world myself, and everything was done so beautifully that I could spend my days inside the pages for long periods of time. I also love how some native mythological creatures within the areas involved made up the backbone of the story, and incorporating them within the complexities of the world. The author definitely knows how to spin a tale using her knowledge and background, and has done it very majestically.
The characters were highly enjoyable, especially the main characters. Nahri, Dara, and Ali were such complex characters in their own unique ways that they all complimented each other and the story even better. I also liked how we got a dual POV between Nahri and Ali to see the two different sides of the story’s ongoing thousand years old dilemma between their two clans, and it was amazing to see the struggle in between them to put aside their beliefs and emotions about everything. They were so flawed in a lot of ways, but it just made it more entertaining to read and try to figure out what they were planning to do next. While I don’t particularly care for the slight romance aspect in this story, I still enjoyed that good slow burn romance and friendship formed between the characters. I’m such a sucker for a very strong platonic bond. There were also a lot of different kinds of relationships introduced in this novel that affected the characters’ lives greatly, such as their bonds between their families, friends, and people who supported or were against them.
The plot itself was great, a bit predictable at certain times and slow and dull in some, but it provided the push for any reader to continue on. It was definitely a strong storyline from the start until the very end, but it went a little steady for me around the middle part and would have wished that things had been more interesting. But the last 10 or so chapters definitely pushed off from the ground so fast and hard that I was practically reading so much just to know what was going to happen next. Those final few chapters really knew how to tear up any readers’ hearts, and I’ve lived for it. I would have appreciated more if some scenes were fleshed out further to make things even more exciting, but apart those minor details, it’s still a great strong story for a first book in a trilogy.
I can’t wait to dive into the next books of this series!
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About The Author
S. A. Chakraborty is the author of the critically acclaimed and internationally best-selling The Daevabad Trilogy. Her work has been nominated for the Locus, World Fantasy, Crawford, and Astounding awards. When not buried in books about thirteen-century con artists and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and re-creating unnecessarily complicated medieval meals. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @SAChakrabooks, where she likes to talk about history, politics, and Islamic art. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and an ever-increasing number of cats.