Thursday, 8 March 2018

Review: The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S. A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: 8th March 2018
My Rating: 4.25 stars out 5
Find it on Goodreads
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... (from Goodreads)

The City of Brass was a fantastic start to a new series. Hats off to S. A. Chakraborty, I haven’t been this excited about a new series in a while!

So first of all, let’s talk about the setting. This was world building at its finest. I could so easily picture the streets Nahri walked through in Cairo, the sand-filled desert as she and Dara made their way to Daevabad, the library she and Ali frequented, the clothes, the food – everything. I loved exploring the world and all of the rich details, and honestly, one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the sequel is to get back to it and explore more of Daevabad.

Speaking of Nahri, her chapters were my favourite. I loved how sceptical of everything she was; she’d had a hard life, and didn’t trust very many people. She was a top-notch thief and con artist, and used to living life looking out for a gullible mark. Even when she was exposed to a completely different, much more luxurious environment, she didn’t lose her shrewdness or her pragmatism and that’s what made her such a stand out character in my opinion. I also really liked seeing Nahri use her healing powers and discovering her limitations, and I’m excited to find out more her abilities in book two.

Dara…I had many opinions about. I was just intrigued by his background; he kept revealing tiny bits of his (very long) history to Nahri but there was so much more he was hiding, which Nahri could tell and frequently argued with him about. At the same time, she didn’t push hard on the topics she knew would be contentious; it’s almost like she didn’t want to know certain things. Their relationship was so complex and only got more so as they settled in Daevabad and it was interesting to see how the dynamic between them changed as time went on.

Ali was another character I had many feelings about. He had very strong beliefs on his family, his history and how Daevabad should be governed – he and Dara were total opposites in their beliefs but both were strangely drawn to Nahri who was a sort of neutral ground. At first I found his chapters a bit less exciting then Nahri’s, and was in more of a rush to get through them. When their storylines joined up, however, his POV grew on me and I became a lot more interested in his struggles and seeing what decisions he would make.

In terms of pacing, the first half of this book was a little slow, but once we got to Daevabad, things really started to pick up. This was also quite a character-driven book, which meant parts of the plot were a bit obvious at times, though the characters were so enjoyable that this didn’t really bother me, and there were still a lot of great revelations and reveals that I’m sure will continue in the next book. One of my favourite parts of the book was definitely learning about djinn and daevas and all the lore – it was nice that we got to learn alongside Nahri throughout. I also liked how much of a role the supporting characters played - there were no throwaway, there for the sake of it, characters, everyone was weaved really well into the story. And of course, the ending was as expected for a first book in a series – it definitely left me wanting more!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the next one!