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Book Review: The City of Brass

Friday, 22 May 2020
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Edition: HarperVoyager eBook
Released: 14th November 2017
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Pages: 521 approx.
Links: Goodreads | Author's Website | Buy the book!

Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…

Be careful what you wish for.

I ADORED this book! Honestly, I'd brace yourselves for a gushy, nonsensical post instead of a review because SULEIMAN'S EYE, I have a lot of feelings!!
Literally within a handful of pages, the world in this book completely swept me up; the richness and vibrancy of Nahri's world jumping straight off the page and wholly enveloping me. And this entrancement only continued to deepen as the characters journeyed further and travelled to different places. I could honestly picture the gorgeous land and city-scapes Chakraborty was painting so vividly in my head. I felt like I could feel the buzz of the busy market, smell the food Nahri ate, swim in the vertical waterfall... It's been so long since I've been mesmerised by a fictional world like this one. And I LOVED it. It reminded me why I love reading so much.

The 'court' politics in this novel has a complexity to it that even I - who read a lot of fantasy - don't come across that much. It was just so unbelievably complex and multi-faceted. So many factions and beliefs warring with each other. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have to pay very close attention to the politics and, even then, was still, at times, confused and having to remind myself so and so don't agree with so and so but tolerate so and so... and so on. However, I love complexity in my fantasy novels and am just putting this hiccup down to the fact I've not read as much 'high' fantasy as of late. I'll be an expert for book two! I love this book too much not to be!

Now, the characters. One word: DARA. I honestly love him with my whole heart. I think he's one of my new favourite characters - scratch that, I KNOW he is. I just loved him on the page, loved his interactions with Nahri... He made me laugh as well, which isn't that common an occurrence. Like, I actually laughed out loud at some of the stuff he done. Namely:

Ali drew up, looking indignant. “You should not be here, Afshin. The Banu Nahida’s time is precious. Only those who are ill or injured—”

Dara abruptly raised a fist and then smashed it through the heavy, sandblasted glass table. The top shattered, sparkling shards of hazy glass cascading over the Afshin and the floor. He didn’t even flinch; instead, he raised his hand and looked at the jagged pieces of glass embedded in his skin with mock surprise. “There,” he deadpanned. “I’m injured.”

This may have been the moment I realised just how much I love his character. But what I love most of all about Chakraborty's characters is how each one is intrinsically flawed in some way. Like none of them come across as perfect or even close to it. They've all got their own flaws, which just makes them all the more dimensional and lovable and yes, I'll go ahead and say it, frustrating! But there's nothing I love more than flawed characters - they're relatable, they provoke reaction and there's room for them to grow. Nahri, herself, is a head-strong, powerful lead but by no means is she perfect. Ali is rash and direct and infuriating but I still wouldn't want the story without him. Same goes for them all. But, Dara, I just love him. Nahri's up there too but my Suleiman, do I just love that stubborn Daeva.

Overall, I loved pretty much everything The City of Brass had to offer. From the enchanting, vibrant world to the astoundingly complex court politics to the wide range of flawed, lovable characters. The novel was pretty much my token-perfect fantasy read. The only thing I could mildly say about it was that sometimes the politics confused me but, other than that, nothing. And even then, I just want to go back and reread those parts to make sure I've fully absorbed all that I can. I'll be picking up book two, hopefully, very soon! I implore you to read this - especially fans of rich, complex fantasy.

FOUR AND A HALF/FIVE STARS!!

Have you read this book - what did you think? What are some of your favourite books with vast and complex worlds and court politics? Your favourite flawed characters?


6 comments :

  1. I've heard so many good things about this book!! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. If I wasn't sure about THE CITY OF BRASS you sold me with that quote! And Djinns, ahh, I need more books with Djinns! Great review!

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    1. The djinns aspect was so fun and such a breath of fresh air - you need to read this, it was soo good!! Thank you!

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  3. This is so intriguing! I've seen some mixed reviews, but the way you describe it makes me want to read it. I've saved it on my want-to-read list!

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    1. I can understand it not being for everyone because it is quite a high fantasy but the world just swept me up and I LOVED it!

      Hope you get to read it soon!

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