The City of Brass, by S. A. Chakraborty
Series: Daevabad Trilogy, book #1
Published by Harper Voyager, 14 November 2017
Genres: Fantasy, historical fiction, young adult
I read this book as part of the Reading Women Challenge 2019, for prompt #23: any book from a series. I love fantasy novels, especially focused around magic. Another genre I love is historical fiction, so this book seemed to tie together a lot of things I love and I was really excited to read it.
This first book of the trilogy introduces you to the mystical world of djinns, magical beings from Arabian and Islamic cultures, similar to the Westernised idea of genies. Nahri is a young woman living by her wits and mysterious talents in Cairo when she accidentally summons a djinn warrior, as well as a swarm of zombie-like ifrit intent on her death. She journeys with the djinn, Dara, towards the city of Daevabad, with many obstacles and perils along the way.
In parallel to Nahri and Dara’s tale, we follow the story of Ali, second-born prince of Daevabad, and learn of the struggles between different races of djinns in the city. The novel culminates when Nahri and Dara arrive in Daevabad to a mixed reception and must try to navigate the convoluted djinn politics.
I honestly have mixed feelings about this book. When I first started reading, I was intrigued by the magic and the many different djinns, especially as Chakraborty’s writing is very evocative, really pulling you into the story with vivid descriptions and interesting characters. The journey to Daevabad, with its many adventures and perils, was enthralling and suspense-building, as you have no idea of how they will be received or what will happen once they finally arrive.
Another aspect that I really love is a book told from multiple perspectives. With chapters alternating between Nahri and Ali, the novel has a nice pace and the reader can see both sides of the story. In the build-up to the arrival in Daevabad, it helps to solidify the storyline and, I felt, increased the suspense.
However, as much as I enjoyed this book, I hit a bit of a roadblock towards the end. One chapter, in particular, number 26, made me question whether I even wanted to finish reading. The conflict which has been looming throughout the whole book suddenly comes to a climax in one chapter and everything seems to go crazy.
Dara and Nahri try to escape Daevabad, Dara kidnaps Ali to ensure their escape, there is a huge battle on ships on the cursed lake, Dara shoots Ali who falls into the lake only to re-emerge possessed by a water demon and then kills Dara. I just wasn’t expecting so much to happen and in such quick succession; it felt a bit rushed given the overall pace of the book.
I did finish the book and it does end on a bit of a cliff hanger, so I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series just to find out what happened. All in all, I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes magical fantasy and historical novels.
My rating: 3.5/5