10 May, 2019

#BookReview :: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

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 . . . 

Nahri lives her life by conning people on the streets of Cairo. Sure, she has heard about all the myths and legends about magic and Djinns, but she is pretty sure there is nothing beyond the skill sets and sleight of hands to it. But when she accidentally summons a Djinn warrior to her side and her world opens up to include Daevabad, she is not sure about anything anymore.

Nahri is quite a resourceful and street smart character and makes for an interesting protagonist. She is strong and stubborn yet at times she is almost like a child throwing a tantrum. It was confusing to see a con artist herself being so naïve at times. But end of the day, she is certainly a survivor. Dara is a warrior from the fables who can also be a jerk. Ali is the problem child who can also be responsible. Do you see a theme in the character building here? The author has tried to develop complex characters by giving them conflicting characteristics which seemed to work well for most parts; except that it really took me long to warm up to them.

I loved the world building and the plotline. The author’s language is rich and has depth in narration. As a result it was a pleasure to read about the 18th century Cairo and a whole new world of Daevabad.  The author paints a beautiful picture of the settings that felt almost tangible. The plot involves two storylines that merge at a point and thanks to the vast world building done by the author there is never a dull moment. The variety of creatures and characters in the book makes it very interesting and the touch of mythology helps seal the deal.

My only wish was that the romance in the book was either skipped or developed more fully. Where it stands now, it felt a bit hurried and forced. Other than that, the book was a complete package. 

Anybody who enjoys fantasy should give this book a try with a bit of patience.

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