The City of Brass
Author S. A. Chakraborty
Publisher Harper Voyager | 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… (from Goodreads)
This review has slight spoilers! Sorry.
I have conflicted feelings about this book. It caused me a lot of stress. It was slow going at the beginning of this, and for DAYS I struggled to find any motivation whatsoever to even pick it up. It was the slowest start to a book I’ve had in quite awhile. When I finished this last night, I was confused and a bit annoyed with it all, but after sleeping on it, I woke up with a strong urge to read the next book immediately and it made me look on this book more positively, so I bumped up my 3-star rating to a 4.
First, a sidenote. I’ve seen praises for the worldbuilding of this series everywhere, but I’ll admit that I was pretty confused for most of the book. THIS IS MY FAULT. There’s a handy-dandy guide at the beginning of the book that details all the different tribes and such, and it’s SUPER FRICKIN’ IMPORTANT TO READ. If I had actually paid attention to that in the first place, I think I would’ve enjoyed the book more.
OK, so moving on to why I was confused and annoyed by this book originally. Let me start by saying that I’m a big romance person. I look for romance in every book I read, and if there isn’t much of one (or one I dislike), it definitely takes me out of the book (with a few exceptions). At the start, I could clearly see the romance forming between Dara and Nahri, and there were nice!… at first. Once they got to Daevabad and Nahri met Ali– it was all over. I liked Ali a lot, and as the book progressed I really looked forward to his chapters. Ali and Nahri’s dynamic is one that I am ALWAYS into, so I was cautiously excited. And Dara just got progressively worse. He was rash and rude and all of the stories about him just sounded terrifying. But still, Nahri stubbornly clung to him and forced me to deal with the conflicting emotions of being on the wrong side of what was looking like a love triangle. I DID NOT WANT THAT PAIN. But I couldn’t help the fact that I just flat out prefer Ali. LOVE TRIANGLES IN OUR YEAR 2020 GOOD GOD!!!
All that being said, I enjoyed the overall plot. More so now that I’ve started the sequel. My favorite scenes were between Nahri and Ali (DUH) but I wish I had seen MORE of stuff. Like, we just skim over Dara and Nahri spending TWO MONTHS in the deser and suddenly she loves him?? Ugh. And then Nahri and Ali spend WEEKS together cultivating a friendship that we see almost none of before we’re thrown into the thick of it. I just can’t stand time jumping where it feels like I’m missing things I’d really love to see. The side characters in this were fine, but not suuuuper memorable (besides Muntadhir and Ghassan) but it looks like the sequel will definitely flesh everyone out more, so I’m exctied about that!
I was really debating against continuing this series when I finished this last night. Especially seeing that Dara would have a POV in the next two books, which didn’t sound particuarly fun to me. BUUUUT all I’ll say is that some Empire of Gold reviews are making me think I should stick it out…. and I’m already a good chunk through Kingdom of Copper! Hopefully my luck wins out and I’ll end this series in a better place than where I started.