THE CITY OF BRASS (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)
Written by S.A. Chakraborty
Published by Harper Voyager, November 14, 2017
My star rating: 5 stars!
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… FIND IT ON GOODREADS
When I first picked up this book, I only wanted to read the first few pages to see if I was interested. I was trying to decide between this one and two others. After I had made it twenty pages without stopping, I obviously knew that this was the one. The first few chapters captured my attention immediately, and swaddled me in a warm fuzzy blanket, intent on not letting me go until I turned the last page. I was beyond hooked!
I will warn you that the first 50-75 pages are a little confusing; though not in a bad way. We meet Nahri as she’s conning two men with her “sight” and “healing”. She’s living alone in Egypt, in a time where she is expected to always have a male companion. But she’s tough, independent, and strong, and will live her life as she damn well pleases. Quickly we learn that there is more to her than is at face value, which sets a turn of events into motion. A lot of things happen from that moment – and fast! Things are weird, chaotic, and mysterious. We’re left in the dark about the why’s and how’s of it all, and we experience these events along with Nahri. Information is revealed little by little as her life and course changes forever. But it was a little much to take in not knowing the details of why it was happening.
Nahri as a character is my kind of girl! She is strong, independent, motivated and determined. She has a goal in mind for where she wants to end up, and will stop at nothing to reach that goal. Even though her life seems to set her back two steps as soon as she gets one step ahead, she pushes through with that goal as her target. When her life is suddenly uprooted, she doesn’t immediately become a victim. She doesn’t lose her will and determination. She remains herself, never once forgetting who she is and where she wants to be. I find that in so many books, where characters (women specifically) are put into a dangerous position, or a position where they are offered a lavish life or love, their personality changes. They forget where they came from. But not here! Nahri is an immovable rock who is able to adapt to her surroundings, camouflage herself, and come out strong and with a plan.
Prince Ali was a little harder to figure out. To be honest, I still don’t know what he’s all about! He’s fighting within himself. Loyal to his family yet at the same time knowing that the things they’re doing is wrong and the society is suffering. He is forever choosing to do what’s right or sticking with the family that he loves more than anything.
And Dara. Sweet, dark Dara! This warrior is a total mystery! On one hand is loyal and protective. He seems like he will risk it all to protect Nahri. But as we get to know him, we learn that he has an insanely dark past that may taint what we learn of him.
As amazing as the characters are, I have to say that the first thing that grabbed my attention was the writing, the world building, and the atmosphere. This was a book where you could picture every detail of your surroundings. Right down to the texture of the walls, the colour of the sky, and the sand at your feet. It was all SO BEAUTIFUL! And it was effortless as well! Sometimes the writing and descriptions can feel forced. But this book would talk for lengthy paragraphs about the buildings and the flowers, and so on, and I wouldn’t even realize it. I wanted to drown in her words so I could close my eyes and be right there with the characters. The atmosphere also just had this energy. It felt alive – sparking and magical.
And, because this book was so beautifully written and descriptive, the pace could be slower than some might like. There was always something happening, but it took a little bit for the pieces to fall into place. But once they did, it was incredible just how large this world and the set of characters was.
There are SO many fantastic elements to this book! There are different tribes, ancient warriors, water magic, fire magic, healers, djinn zombies (or at least that’s what I called them), royal politics, a rebellion, sibling rivalries, and SO much more. If you’re interested in a gorgeously written fantasy, full of magic, atmosphere, and interesting characters, PLEASE READ THIS! It’s going to make my top 10 for the year for sure!!!!!
Until next time, happy reading!