City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S. A. Chakraborty
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Kingdom of Brass is a book I've heard only good things about this year and I've really enjoyed books based in the more Arabian style settings since I was young. There is something really exotic and magical about the Egyptian feel and desert sands that make you feel you are truly escaping to a mystical land and City of Brass brings all of these elements together to give us a book filled with magic, folk tales, tribal histories and politics.
It took me ages to read City of Brass but this was absolutely not a reflection on the book, I had to put it down for a while in order to read some short loan new release books that had arrived at my local library but even taking a few weeks break I was still able to pick right back up about 30% of the way through and immerse myself back in the beautiful writing of S. A. Chakraborty because the story is utterly engaging and full of so many different threads.
Starting out in Cairo we follow Nahri, a thief and con artist who is trying to survive on her wits and a gift of healing. Unintentionally she summons a Djinn called Dara who arrives to save her from the magical Ifrit who magically appear and try to kill her. Before she knows it she is off on a flying carpet with the strangely attractive and mysterious Dara who tells her to escape the Ifrit she must go with him He tells her she is part of the Daeva tribe known as the Nahid tribe who used to rule over the Daeva people in the city of Daevebad, her people are now extinct having been hunted to extinction by the current ruling family and that he plans to take her there so she can give hope to her people and hopefully lay claim to her home.
Running alongside Nahri's story we have that of Prince Alizyad, the second son of the current King of Daevabad. He is struggling with the inequalities he sees around him and how the pureblooded Daeva people treat those of mixed blood, known as the Shafit. The Shafit are treated as second class citizens and have children stolen from the or women sold into prostitution. He is determined to try and help change things in his homeland but to do so he must go against the laws of his father and betray his family.
This story is one rich with political intrigue. There are lots of times when we are treated to information about the origins of our current political state in Daevabad, the wars that were fought that brought an end to the rule of the Nahid family and how the Shafit people have come to exist and how our current King has begun with good intentions to help them but now is reneging on those promises. I found this made it a really immersive book, I loved building this exotic and complex world in my mind and liked having the detail about how we got to where we are. It built slowly and even at the end of City of Brass there are still unanswered questions about aspects of the past we know we need to uncover that this gives us a real hunger for book 2, Kingdom of Copper which is due for release in 2019. I did get a little confused at points with Daeva v's Djinn and some of the different tribal alliances but I'd keep reading a little more and most times things would iron themselves out.
This was also a book where we have wonderful alliances forming and reforming throughout. We begin with Nahri's blossoming friendship with Dara and then as the book progresses we watch as she meets Prince Ali and gets to spend time with him and learn more about Daevebad and his family, despite knowing that his family overthrew her own Nahid tribe years before. There is lots going on and we have a really good triangle between these 3 and I loved both Dara and Ali and couldn't decide which one I wanted to cheer for as both gave a different perspective to the world in which Nahri finds herself and with this book you are never quite sure of the evil lurking from the past which is greater.
An amazing ending with this book, there's so much for us to explore when we get Kingdom of Copper next year. We get a cliffhanger ending with real mystery as to who a particular character might be and whether Nahri might actually be the last surviving member of her family. I am really excited to get the second installment in this series.
Absolutely deserving of a 5 out of 5 stars from me and definitely a contender for one of my best books of 2018.