Title: The City of Brass
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: November 14th 2017
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 goodreads.com
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.