Today I’m bringing you a special book review: two in one!
I absolutely adore S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad series and I think its criminally underrated on Book Twitter/Booktube. This series is so much fun, the characters are phenomenal and the worldbuilding is iconic. Check out my reviews of the first two books (the final book in the trilogy is coming out June 11) and read these great books!
The City of Brass
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.”
S.A. Chakraborty’s debut fantasy novel is a new favourite and I won’t stop talking about it. From the world, to the characters, to the epic plot, this is not a book you want to miss out on.
The City of Brass follows Nahri, an Egyptian woman who spends her days as a healer and her nights conning people out of their money. One day, one of her cons gets away from her and she accidentally summons a dangerous and powerful Daeva (similar to a djinn) named Darayavahoush. Dara quickly discovers that Nahri is a Daeva too and he takes her to a city that will protect people like her, Daevabad. But Daevabad is a very different place from what Dara remembers, as it is now in control of the Daeva’s natural enemies, the djinn. One of the djinn princes of Daevabad is Alizayd, who befriends Nahri and tries to help her as she finds her place in this strange new city. But Ali’s father is a menacing king and he has plans for Nahri.
I need to talk about Alizayd al-Qhatani, because he is without a doubt one of my favourite fictional characters. Ali is incredibly selfless and one of the strongest characters I’ve come across. He is an extremely devout Muslim, and he has such a kind heart. He screws up a lot, but he always has the best intentions. He tries so hard to help the shafits (half djinn, half human) in the city, as Ali’s father treats them cruelly and unfairly , but his decisions tend to backfire.
Nahri is a fantastic main character and I’m so excited to see where her journey ends in the final book in the series. I ship her so hard with Ali (🥴) although I think it’s pretty obvious she and Ali are not going to get together. Nahri cares deeply about Dara but struggles to come to terms with his extremely protective nature.
The story is about oppression and power, and how power corrupts. Nahri is forced by Ghassan, Ali’s father, into a position of power as the Banu Nahida (the head healer) and tries to help as many people as she can, especially her fellow Daevas. But Ghassan despises Daevas, and shafits, and continues to oppress both, while Nahri and Ali attempt to stop him — Nahri, openly, but Ali covertly as he is terrified of his father.
The City of Brass is a powerful novel that I could not put down, especially that last quarter. When I say the book’s ending ripped out my heart, I’m not exaggerating. This novel is a must read for any fantasy lover!
The Kingdom of Copper
This review features spoilers from The City of Brass!
Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her familyand one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid, the unpredictable water spirits, have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.
“Because a lost little girl from Cairo thought she was living in some sort of fairy tale. And because for all her supposed cleverness, she couldn’t see that the dashing hero who saved her was its monster.”
The Kingdom of Copper takes everything that was great in The City of Brass, ups the tension and increase the stakes, and somehow makes this phenomenal story better.
The Kingdom of Copper picks up five years after the events of The City of Brass. Nahri is a fully fledged Banu Nahida, trapped in the court of Daevabad by Ghassan’s plans. She spends her days tending to patients and trying to make the best out of the alliance she’s been forced into: marriage to Muntadhir, Ali’s older brother and heir to the throne of Daevabad. Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled because his father believes him to be too powerful and devout to the point that he would betray his family for the greater good. Ali is making the best of his life outside of Daevabad, but circumstances force him back to the city. And finally, Dara (now a POV character), joins a powerful foreign force, getting ready to storm Daevabad and take control from the djinn.
This novel was impossible to put down. Initially, I was apprehensive about the five year jump, but Chakraborty pulled it off successfully. I was worried that characters’ storylines wouldn’t be as developed, but I worried in vain. I loved seeing how much the characters had changed from who they were in The City of Brass, especially in regard to Muntadhir. In the first book, Muntadhir is an angsty, more-often-than-not drunk who spends a lot of the novel sulking but caring for his brother. But in this book, he’s grown in his power and I both loved and hated seeing how much his and Ali’s relationship has become strained and deadly.
Nahri has always been an independent character, but in The Kingdom of Copper, she is confident in her abilities and her place in the city, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Almost all of the men around her attempt to control some aspect of her life, but she cleverly and sneakily finds a way to circumvent them. And if I shipped Nahri and Ali just a bit in The City of Brass, in this novel I am hardcore shipping them. I just find Ali such a sweet person who respects Nahri and her autonomy, which the same can’t be said for another certain character.
I probably sound like I don’t like Dara as a character, but I do! While Ali makes bad decisions, Dara’s makes horrible ones which have 10x more harmful impact than Ali’s. He’s a very divisive character that the small fandom can’t seem to agree on. I feel for him a lot and I’m so excited to see where his character goes in the final novel. I will say, I don’t necessarily want Nahri to end up with him. I much prefer Ali, but I also feel like Nahri shouldn’t end up with anyone at the end of the series; my girl has been through enough.
Reading The Kingdom of Copper, I now have very high expectations for The Empire of Gold. Chakraborty has so many plotlines to weave together, but I have faith she will pull it off.