The first instalment to a richly imaginative and compelling fantasy series, The City of Brass is a tale of magical politics and conflict. Set in the ancient city of Daevabad, readers are introduced to a world built on history and violence. On the surface, it’s a vibrant city riddled with mesmerising magic, but underneath lies a fractured city. One divided by court politics, segregation, and discrimination among the various djinn tribes.
Our perception of Daevabad is steered by the narratives of our lead characters. Nahri was raised in the human world but has an affinity for healing that defies all human logic. Dreaming for a chance to escape the confines of Cairo, Nahri’s wish comes to pass in a dramatic and dangerous encounter that shatters everything she’s ever known. Nahri is a character that readers will quickly take a liking to. She is determined, resilient, and bold. While her understanding of the complex history of the city is limited to contrasting accounts from those within the city, she refuses to let these political figures control her fate.
Accompanying Nahri on this journey is Dara. A Daeva whose gruff exterior will immediately charm readers, but his fearsome reputation will make you wary of his choices. He’s one of the most fascinating characters in the book as his loyalty to Nahri is unwavering, but he’s is also a Daeva that’s shrouded in mystery. We come to learn pieces of his past through the eyes of those who revere him and those that despise him. It’s a past that’s stained with blood, but there’s a deep sense of tragedy within him, one that compels you to him, even when he blurs that line of hero and villain.
Finally, we have Ali, who is undoubtedly a polarizing character. The second son to the current ruler of Daevabad. He is an idealist, who longs to change the nature of Daevabad’s current socio-political structure to create a fair and just system that treats the occupants of Daevabad as equals. His intentions are just and pure, but his blind idealisms and stubbornness create a lingering sense of frustration. It’s through Ali that we explore the social and racial divide within Daevabad, as he is exposed to court politics and the warring balance between family loyalty and political duty.
It takes a while for paths to align, and there are moments where the pacing lags, but this gradual overlap in the narrative allows readers to familiarise themselves with the rich lore surrounding the djinn before diving deep into the complex history within this world. What’s certain is that Chakraborty creates a world that is vivid and immersive, but weighed by the complicated history within Daevabad.
The City of Brass is a brilliant introduction to djinn lore and the brewing political conflicts in Daevabad. With so much of the world still to discover, there’s no doubt that further instalments to this series will expand on the foundations laid in the City of Brass as we expose lingering questions, face new and old foes, whilst juggling the tumultuous political landscape within Daevabad and beyond.
About the Book
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
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…