ARC Review: The City of Brass

The City of Brass

Title: The City of Brass

Author: S.A. Chakraborty

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy, #1

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: November 14th 2017


Five Stars

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty in which the fate of a magical kingdom rests in the hands of a defiant young con artist.

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…

Be careful what you wish for.

– Blurb courtesy of

I received an ARC of this book free from YA HQ. It in no way affects my views on The City of Brass.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“I’m not going anywhere until I get some answers.”
“No.” He dropped besides her on the rug, his voice firm. “I saved your life. I’m escorting you to the city of my enemies. That’s enough. You can find someone in Daevabad to bother with your questions.” He sighed. “I suspect this journey will already be long enough.”

Nahri makes her living in Cairo through tricks and sleight of hand, despite her ability to sense and heal illnesses most of her charms and cures have nothing magical about them. Until one day, while taking part in a Zar Ceremony, she starts singing in a language only she knows and not only summons an ifrit but a djinn daeva warrior as well. With her life now in danger, and realising she is not wholly human, Dara whisks Nahri away from Cairo on a flying carpet to Daevabad, a mystical city where her kind are safe from the ifrits that hunt them.

There is a lot of world building in this book, it is magical but heavy at first which reminds me of Laini Taylor’s writing, and it took me a few chapters to really get into this book. It’s after the Zar Ceremony that the story really hooked me, as Nahri calls Dara to her side and finds herself hunted by the ifrit. From there on its full of action as Nahri and Dara have to flee across to Daevabad chased by all manner of mythical creature Nahri has never realised existed before now.

“Ghassan took kingship seriously, and Daevabad’s peace and security came before Ali’s life.
Those weren’t prices Ali was willing to pay.”

The City of Brass is split into two perspectives, as Nahri races across the land Ali is already in Daevabad. As the youngest son of the King Ali finds himself in a precarious position when he discovers the shafrit (djinn half bloods) rebellion he’s been funding is using his money to buy weapon. His father has tasked Ali with tracking down the perpetrators but Ali knows if his deception is discovered being a Prince won’t save his life.

As Nahri reaches Daevabad, as her true heritage is revealed, her life entwines with the royal families’. There were a lot of secrets in this book, and it was always a mystery working out which characters were on which side, which could be called good and which could be called evil. While the story itself was incredible, it was the development of the characters and the world which made this book exceptional.

…The Characters

“There was no way she was trapping herself in a city filled with more ill-tempered djinn. She would be better off on her own. Surely she could find a way to avoid the ifrit.”

Nahri has been on her own all her life; she knows what she wants out of life and how to get it, even if that means lying and stealing. Nahri doesn’t understand her gift at first, which is how she ends up calling all manner of creature to her side by accident, but even when in Daevabad she doesn’t seem all that willing to learn. Nahri is pushed to her limits in this first book, but she pushes back. She refuses to let anyone, not Dara, not even the King, tell her what to do.

The relationship between Nahri and Dara was incredibly developed. At first Nahri only wants to escape Dara and return to Cairo – even though it isn’t perfect, even though she has to lie, cheat and steal to survive, it’s her life – but the more time they spend together the more their feelings grow. At first more of a need for comfort than anything else, but the more Nahri discovers about Dara the more her feelings grow.

‘Earn this.’ Ali nodded. He had no tears to fight. He was too shocked to cry, too numb to do anything other than mutely follow his brother into the palace.

Ali is a conflicted character and while I can’t say I always liked him, I definitely preferred reading Nahri’s POV chapters, he was an incredibly developed and incredibly real character. Ali wants to do what’s best for his people, including the shafrit who are usually scorned and looked down upon, however he can also be a little naive about the situation he is throwing himself into. Even though he makes mistakes Ali always does what he thinks is best, not just for him but for his people.

‘Don’t,’ she told herself. ‘He’s the literal enemy of the people you’re about to ask for sanctuary, and you want to add this to the ties already binding you?’ Only a fool would do such a thing.
She kissed him.

There are so many incredible relationships in this book, all as well developed as the main characters. Not only the romance between Nahri and Dara, but the friendship between Nahri and Ali – although they get off on the wrong foot at start – and the complicated relationship Ali has with both his older brother and his father. In spite of the fact that he betrayed them, helping the rebellion, Ali clearly loves his family, and in this book you can see how they love him as well.

…The Setting

“Impressive as they all were, the final gate – the gate that would catch the first rays of sunlight each morning, the gate of Daevabad’s original people – outshone them all.
The Daeva Gate.”

Like I mentioned earlier the world building in this book is very heavy, but it’s fantastically done. I compared this book to Laini Taylor’s, because how Taylor writes incredible and magical worlds you want to fall into that’s what Chakraborty has done in The City of Brass. There is a lot of history as well; each faction of the djinn has their own culture and their own history that shaped the people they are today. There is also the history of Daevabad that is soaked in blood and shrouded in secrets of rebellions and betrayal. It’s a lot to read and take in in this first book, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed The City of Brass as much as I did without it. Chakraborty’s writing allowed me to feel like I was part of the world, I could see it in my mind so clearly because I had all the history and culture I needed to imagine it.

It took me ages to write this review. Why? Because The City of Brass is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I couldn’t figure out how to do it justice in my review. I still can’t now but I gave it my best shot. This was a wonderful story, with character developed and world building the like of which I’ve never read before. That’s how incredible it was.

What did you think of The City of Brass? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

42 thoughts on “ARC Review: The City of Brass

    1. Oh The City of Brass is a brilliant book Dani and yeah it’s a story and a world that had me hooked from the very beginning. If you pick this one up I really hope you enjoy it, and I’m really hoping that once it gets out there a little more it will become more hyped up you know? 🙂 ❤


  1. I’ve just stumbled across this book on Amazon, as it was recommended to me. I hadn’t heard of it at all before, but it sounds like it deserves a lot more hype. Comparing a book to Laini Taylor’s is a pretty huge compliment! World-building is so massively important for fantasy books and though a bit heavy, it sounds like the author completely nailed it. I like the sound of these characters and it’s always wonderful when the relationships among the characters are well developed. The premise has me hooked so I think I’ll definitely be picking this one up quite soon, hopefully by the end of this year. Fantastic review, as always Beth. I’m so happy that you enjoyed this one so much! ❤ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh this book DEFINITELY deserves more hype, and I would highly highly recommend it Azia. Yep, the world building in The City of Brass was so detailed and magical it reminded me of Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, and I’ve said a couple of times that this book and A Conjuring of Light are competing for my top read of 2017, which from me is a massive compliment because you know how much I love the Shades of Magic series! 😀 The characters were amazing, and I am so glad to hear you’ll be picking this one up Azia. You’ll have to let me know what you think as soon as you finish, hopefully you’ll love it and we can fangirl over this book together! 😀
      Thanks so much Azia. 🙂 ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My goodness! A book that is actually competing against A Conjuring of Light for the top spot! I can’t believe this 😱 Considering how much you love SOM, it must be REALLY good then! I’m always up for some fangirling. I’ll be sure to include this book in my next book haul! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I’m so glad to hear you loved this, Beth! I feel like this one isn’t hyped enough for how amazing it sounds. It’s good to hear about the worldbuliding and character development — I feel like a lot of fantasies that I’ve been reading haven’t had the best character development, which sucks! And it’s also really great that the worldbuliding is heavy but well-done. I hate when it’s all dumped on you ahaha! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s incredible May, and definitely not as hyped as it needs to be. I would recommend this book to everyone because it’s amazing. If you’re looking for a fantasy with good character development and world building then pick up The City of Brass, it really does have everything. World building is so important to me in fantasy books so it’s always something I need to see well written to rate a book highly you know?
      Thanks May! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been hearing really good things about this book lately. And you saying that it’s one of the best books that you have read this year makes me want to read it even more. I’m definitely adding it to my TBR!! Amazing review Beth! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely, definitely add this to your TBR list Anna. I think at the moment The City of Brass is competing with A Conjuring of Light for my best read of 2017, and you know how much I love the Shades of Magic series! 😀 That’s how incredible this book was.
      Thanks so much! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow! That’s seriously high praise, after all I do know how much you loved the Shades of Magic series! It’s been added to my TBR! 😉 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh goooooodness Beth!!!! I am trying so hard to skim your review because I have a arc I have been dying to read! but it’s near impossible to read your review & not get hung up on the amazing descriptions lol. There’s just too much that calls to this little bookworm like djinn, flying carpet ride, Laini Taylor, and sleight of hand! gahhhhhh! you’ve just made me reevaluate my November TBR post lol. I will come back here for certain once I have read it to chat it up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god Lilly you need to read this book! And the fact that you have an ARC as well means you have no excuse not to start it as soon as possible. 😀 The City of Brass was brilliant, and based on what I know of your reading tastes I think this will be a book you love as much as I did! 🙂
      Yes, definitely let me know what you think when you finish this one. I need to talk to someone about this book and how incredible it was. Basically if you loved Strange the Dreamer, or anything Laini Taylor has written, I feel you’re bound to love this one as well. 😀 ❤


    1. I haven’t heard much about it, both before I read it and after I finished reading it, but it’s just incredible Angela. If you decide to pick it up, which I really hope you do, I’m sure it’ll be even more amazing than you’ve heard it is.
      Thanks so much! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m really, really curious about this book – I have heard of it a bit on Twitter and in one of your latest blog posts. After reading this review, I want to try and read it sometime soon: the world-building sounds SO fabulous and, even if I haven’t read any of Laini Taylor’s books, (I have to and I will as soon as I can) I feel like this is the kind of writing style I could fall in love with 🙂 Thank you for the lovely review, Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like I’ve been speaking a lot about this book recently (and I probably have a few other posts saved in my Drafts folder that mention this book as well) but it was just so amazing Marie. I am a huge fan of world-building, as you probably know, and it was so well written in The City of Brass. Hopefully this will be the kind of book and writing style you fall in love with (same goes for Laini Taylor’s books as well). 😀
      That’s all right. I’m really glad you enjoyed this review Marie. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh definitely add this to your TBR list Lauren. The City of Brass has become one of my top reads for this year (I’d even say it’s tied for first place with A Conjuring of Light) so I’d love for more people to pick up and really enjoy this book as much as I did! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never heard of this book, but I’m so glad I decided to check out your review. This story sounds fascinating! I’ll have to add it to my TBR. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t say I got Red Queen vibes while reading this book, but that could just be me. It has been ages since I picked up that series. Either way I hope you enjoy The City of Brass, I loved it so it would be great to see more people discover it as well. 😀


  7. Wow. I can see why you enjoyed it so much. The world-building sounds fantastic, and the premise alone hooked me. I do love the sound of characters who are hard to identify as good or evil explicitly. Excellent review, Beth! I really do feel like this is one of those titles that people should check out and should get even more recognition (even if I hadn’t read it, I feel like YA fans would love it a lot)! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh the world building was beyond fantastic, and that’s something I look for in fantasy books so it needs to be well done for me to enjoy a story. Everything was incredibly written in The City of Brass, and even though the story took a little while to get going there was plenty of character development to keep me hooked.
      Thanks so much Lashaan, yes this is definitely a book I want to see get more recognition. I feel like this series is going to be up there with the Shades of Magic books for me (and THAT’S saying something). 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like I’ve been talking about this book a lot lately, but it was just incredible so really there’s no reason I shouldn’t have been talking about it loads. 🙂 Ha, yeah if you enjoyed Strange the Dreamer you’ll love The City of Brass Trang! 😀


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