Book Review | The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
When you get a really long book to read and review you can start off a little bit… overwhelmed at the size of it originally. But then you get an entirely different problem if you end up enjoying the book – you’ll get to half way and suddenly you wish it was at least double the length. That’s what happened with me reading The City of Brass as it was just such a magical read full of secrecy that I hated the idea of it ever ending! I’m so glad this is a trilogy, so much action and drama was in the first book that I just can’t wait to see what the next instalments bring to the story! Keep reading for a more detailed review but this book earned all the stars!
Title: The City of Brass
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Release Date: 8th March 2018
Source: eARC provided through NetGalley by HarperVoyager (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased)
‘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.’
This was such a drama and action filled story from the very beginning that there is no way that I couldn’t absolutely fall in love with it. The City of Brass is an epic start to what will probably be one of my favourite trilogies. The story begins in 18th Century Cairo with our main character Nahri, a con artist but one with an unusual talent for sensing what ails someone. Quickly into the story she accidentally summons a ‘djinn’ warrior (based on Islamic mythology). He wants to protect her but in doing so kidnaps her from where she calls home. A lot of the book focuses on Nahri finding out who she is and also growing as a person.
We also have a point of view from that of Ali, another djinn and second son to a djinn king. He’s based in the land of Daevabad which is where the djinn warrior, Dara, eventually takes Nahri too. At the beginning Ali’s perspective focuses on showing us inequality which exists in Daevabad, along with a little insight into the politics and his family. By the time Nahri reaches Daevabad the two points of view become far more coherent.
In terms of the characters, I absolutely loved Nahri. She’s such a strong willed female character, and though she has her faults we do see her grow as a person through the story. Initially I wasn’t a fan of Ali, he’s very opinionated and self-righteous at the beginning but as he starts to see the error in his ways (he is young, after all) he definitely grew on me. There are a lot of secondary characters – some of which are highly likeable and others… not so likeable! I loved the complexity of Dara’s character in particular, he’s had such a troubled past but he always tries to do his utmost to protect Nahri.
Pacing wise, there are parts of the story which flow very quickly and then parts which aren’t as fast paced but are riddled in political issues, the drama being kept fairly consistent throughout. Although a brilliant book, I’d definitely recommend it more for older readers due to the swearing, violence and there are also mentions of rape in the story. With the main character being around 20 I’d also say that this certainly reinforces that the reading age should be on the older side.
One thing I really adored about the story was all the secrets and how they were incorporated into the world by Chakraborty. The secrets and complexity of the story just expand throughout and are incredibly intriguing. They build up to a spectacular peak at the end which made me sad that the book was over – I need the sequel as soon as possible!
About the Author
‘S. (Shannon) A. Chakraborty is a NY-based speculative fiction writer and history buff. Her debut, The City of Brass, is out now with Harper Voyager and is the first book in THE DAEVABAD TRILOGY, an epic fantasy set in the 18th century Middle East. She is an organizer with the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group, about which more information – including membership – can be found here.
Originally (and proudly!) from New Jersey, S. A. currently resides in Queens with her husband and daughter. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and recreating unnecessarily complicated, medieval meals for her family. You can find her online most frequently at Twitter (@SChakrabs) where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.
She is represented by Jennifer Azantian at Azantian Literary Agency.’
Source: S. A. Chakraborty’s website
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