Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power: on the streets of eighteenth century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by – palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing – are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.
But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. For Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass- a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.
Spurning Dara’s warning of the treachery surrounding her, she embarks on a hesitant friendship with Alizayd, an idealistic prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt regime. All too soon, Nahri 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 to be careful of what you wish for…
Synopsis from hardcover book, 533 pages, copyright 2017 and published by Harper Collins Publishers .
First of all I love the cover of The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. I was drawn to the lovely design and colours and discovered that it was a fantasy novel that sounded really interesting. I love fantasy tales from the Middle East though I have not read much literature from that area. The one stands out is One Thousand And One Nights.
Well, I am so so glad that I took a chance and read it. I didn’t have any expectation as to how it would turn out and I am glad to report that it was excellent. It’s definitely is on my top fantasy read for 2018!
Here’s what I loved about S. A. Chakraborty’s debut novel The City of Brass.
Buckle up for a awesome ride on a flying carpet! The plot moves fast. I loved that the book starts off Cairo and then leads to other mythological places like Daevabad, the city of brass.
The combination of a nice fast pace and the setting of 18th century Middle East is so tantalizing.
I loved the world building in this book. I loved wallowing in the words that seem so exotic to me. Words like deava (djinn is a human word for daeva) , ifrit (the original daevas who got their powers taken away from them), simurgh (scaled firebirds), zahhak (large, flying firebreathing lizard like creature), marids ( powerful water elementals), peri (air elements, more powerful than the djinns) ghouls, and more!
Chakraborty style is epic. The book is beautifully written and I wanted to savor every sentence. The City of Brass is a magical fantasy novel that captured my imagination and heart.
The only negative about the book was that the background history leading up to the present was a bit complicated. Good thing there was a glossary in the back to remind yourself of all the names and what they were.
I did find that I had to go back to get a handle on the history of the conflict among the different djinn tribes and how it all started and why. Chakraborty does not skimp on the world building, making the setting really rich and vibrant so it can be overwhelming and information overload.
Nahri is such a kick-ass character. How cool is it that she’s a con artist and takes care of herself back then? She’s smart, streetwise and a healer. Nahri later learns that her healing abilities are from her ancestors. Nahri is a shafit, a mix of djinn and human and she is the last of the healers. I loved how she is able to handle any situation and uses her con artist brains to adapt to something new.
Dara. Ah, he’s another bad-ass character too. A strong, powerful and good-looking djinn? No wonder why Nahri can’t keep her eyes off him. We don’t get as much info on Dara and I am dying to find out more in the sequel The Kingdom of Copper, due to be released in January 2019.
The ending was climatic and great, leaving me wanting more. I wanted to be back in that world of djinns as soon as I finished. It’s also a good set up for sequel.
My Final Thoughts
I am very impressed with this debut The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty. I enjoyed it immensely for its rich and vivid fantastical world. The book is beautifully told and you are pulled into this wondrous world of djinns and magic.
I would definitely recommend The City of Brass to fantasy aficionados.