by S.A. Chakraborty
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Published on November 14, 2017 by Harper Voyager
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
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 . . .
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I had to take a few days after finishing The City of Brass before I could write this review, otherwise you would’ve been reading “IT’S SO GOOD BUY THIS BOOK” over and over again. Which, I mean, if that works for you, awesome!
I haven’t rated a book this high this year with the exception of A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab and that particular title had a lot of emotion behind it as the last in a trilogy. And it all starts with the world-building. Chakraborty is a master. Every detail felt deliberate, meaningful, certain. I was immediately pulled into the world as though I stood next to Nahri, the thief whose story unfolds chapter by chapter. I felt like I was living in the desert, riding that old dusty carpet across the sands. It wasn’t just the descriptions. Sure, I could see the world, but I could also feel it, smell it, hear the city of brass.
I loved that there was a lot of dynamics in play within the world as well. I was never bored. Chakraborty tackles this beautiful fantasy world and, on top of that, goes into developing the dynamics between different djinn tribes and how they interact. There’s a history that unfolds and it clearly affects the current day story. I’ve seen that done before. . . across multiple books. This was done in one and it didn’t ever feel over the top or excessive. Everything just flowed.
Now it wouldn’t work without an amazing cast of characters. The City of Brass is told from two different perspectives — the Cairo thief Nahri and the djinn prince Ali. I actually didn’t expect the second perspective because Nahri summons a djinn (okay, daeva, the terms are better explained in the novel why there’s a difference), Dara, who I expected to be the other perspective because. . . well for no other reason than that’s what usually happens. But it DIDN’T and that was actually really cool. The two storylines didn’t connect right away and I wasn’t sure what was going on with that but they do eventually and it worked and I loved it.
Goodness, I am having such a hard time writing this review. Remember how I said it was going to be all gush? I can’t even put it into words.
Nahri is sharp and witty, she’s vulnerable yet strong. She’s exactly the kind of character that I love because there’s a personality there that shines through with every decision she makes. This is not a perfect character but she’s a true character — true to who she is and, to me, that makes her all the better. I also loved the uncertainty she portrayed. She’s out of her teens but still questions life and honestly, I relate to that so much.
She stole the show for me. Don’t get me wrong, the other characters are AMAZING. Each has their distinct voice, their personality quirks that make them them and it worked. It all worked. And that romance. That SLOW BURN. Oh. My. Goodness. I hit the ending of the book and a part of me died inside and I just sat there wondering what I would do while I waited for the sequel. How could any book compare? I haven’t been wrecked like this since ACOL and I know I’ve already compared this book to that one once but this debut knocked it out of the park.
New auto-buy author. New must-have series. I might even start collecting editions (and if y’all know anything about me and collecting, I take it VERY seriously).
Alright. If you got anything out of that gushing, wordy review, you need this book. YOU NEED THIS BOOK. Travel to 18th century Cairo and races across the world with Nahri as she finds the magic she thought never existed. I can guarantee you’ll find some magic too.