Review of 'The City of Brass'

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
1st book in the 'Daevabad Trilogy' series

the_city_of_brass.jpg In 18th century Cairo, the young woman Nahri survives by being a swindler but also has a talent for healing. When she meets a djinn warrior named Dara her view of the world is shaken as they travel to “The City of Brass”, Daevabad, hidden from view and ruled by the Gezeri tribe. There Prince Alizayd al Qahtani (or “Ali”) is forced to move from the citadel where he has grown up into the palace to be part of the royal entourage but on the side dreams of a revolution. Despite their differences Ali and Nahri strike a friendship, learning from one another. However, the collision of their two worlds that ultimately threaten the stability of the empire.

A tremendous, imaginative first novel from S.A. Chakraborty “The City of Brass” is likely unlike anything you have ever read before concentrating on a time and mythology that is very rarely seen in, at least, western literature. In this I have to admit that getting to grips with the terminology is a bit tricky and I found myself continually turning to the glossary at the back of the book (“Irfrits” are disgraced Daeva and “Shafit” are half Djinn and half human…). Luckily, this is all driven home time and time again and I soon got into the simple, but intriguing, story. Having said that, “The City of Brass” keeps you guessing right up until the final, startling, chapters that, unsurprisingly, lead us into the sequel novels. It does take a bit of time to get going with a lot of character study with the two stories of Ali and Nahri told in alternating chapters. However, it is the mixture of the human and magical worlds that is often difficult to grasp, how are the groups related? What is the significance of that person doing that thing? It is this aspect of the book that frequently frustrates.

The writing in “City of Brass” is clear and concise, managing to bring this unusual world to life with an obviously well though out mythology and logic that utterly convinces. Truth be told, I am not sure if I will continue reading the series (when it is available) as it took quite careful reading to grasp exactly what was going on but I would be intrigued to know where it is going…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2020-02-09

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: HarperCollinsPublisher

Publication Date: 2017

ISBN: 9780008239428