The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) – S.A. Chakraborty

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four stars black
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 533
Release Date: November 14, 2017

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…

The City of Brass is a phenomenal debut showcasing a culture that needs more exposure in mainstream publishing. The City of Brass is an own voices Muslim fantasy set in Cairo as the main character, Nahri, discovers her heritage.

Chakraborty excels at writing an all-encompassing atmosphere rooted in Muslim culture. I could feel the dry wind on my face, smell the heat, and taste the sand. It’s an incredible feeling being able to immerse yourself in something so different than what you usually experience and that is a testament to Chakraborty’s writing.

The City of Brass is told from two perspectives, Nahri and Ali. Nahri mistakenly summons a warrior, Dara, and becomes immersed in a world she didn’t know existed. Nahri and Dara’s interactions are some of the best moments of the novel. Their interactions serve an important function for readers to understand the world Chakraborty is creating, the power dynamics at play, and what to expect. Nahri is sassy and isn’t afraid to get what she wants from Dara making their back and forth not only important in terms of the plot, but also showcasing their respective personalities and relationship.

At the beginning of Ali’s first few chapters, I disliked him and everyone else. I was too interested in Nahri and Dara to care about Ali and his beliefs and how they clash with his father and the city. Ali’s chapters also introduce readers to a very complicated and intricate history spanning thousands of years that has very real implications for the present the characters find themselves in. It wasn’t until I had a handle on the characters, their tribes, and their history that I started to enjoy Ali and his chapters.

The reason I rated The City of Brass four stars instead of five is because the pace and timeline of the story abruptly changes. For most of the novel, readers follow the characters on a day-by-day basis. Suddenly, there are whole weeks and months passing with the turn of the sentence to further the plot. This may seem like a small issue, but it disrupted the flow of the narrative and made me feel as if I was missing out on something.

There were so many instances where I had to Google certain terms or names of monuments because I didn’t know what Chakraborty was referring to (shame on me for my ignorance). As a result of my Googling and Chakraborty, I learned a lot about a new culture.

Overall, The City of Brass is an incredibly complicated fantasy novel that deserves more love and attention because it will keep you glued to the pages. I cannot wait to pick up the sequel, The Kingdom of Copper!

 

Have you read The City of Brass? What did you think?

8 thoughts on “The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) – S.A. Chakraborty

  1. Thanks for the review – this book sounds amazing. I’m trying to read more diverse books this year so I can learn more about different cultures, so I’m glad you mentioned how much you learned from reading it / looking things up. I’ll definitely have to check it out.

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