Title: The city of brass
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Genre(s): Fantasy, ya, historical
My rating: 5/5 stars
Other books by this author: The kingdom of copper (part 2), The empire of gold (part 3), The River of Silver: Tales from the Daevabad Trilogy, Amina al-Sirafi Series (2023)
Find S. A. Chakraborty here:
The city of brass is the first part in the 'Daevebad' trilogy. We find ourselves in eighteenth-century Egypt, Cairo to be precise. Old stories are still singing in the streets there, stories in which Nahri does not believe. She earns her money by swindling rich Ottoman nobles. She has it all pretty well, until during one of her scams she accidentally summons a mysterious Djinn. Nahri realizes that the magical world, in which she has never believed, does indeed exist and enters a completely different life. She even is a part of it and hopes that the warrior can give her all the answers she never had. But making a wish to a Djinn can have fatal consequences.
You follow this story from two different perspectives. Nahri's and Ali's. At the start, the two don't know each other, but as a reader, you get to understand fast enough that their storylines will soon touch and become intertwined. Of course, these are not the only characters and you meet many more throughout the story. The characters all only experience limited growth in this first volume, which is mainly focused on other points, but does hint at potential growth in the next parts.
Still, the characters are fun to read about. For instance, Nahri is someone who is very confident, but can also be incredibly sarcastic and also gets herself into trouble sometimes. Because of the last one, she soon meets Dara, who turns her whole world upside down and takes her to Daevabad. Furthermore, reading about Ali is also incredibly interesting, he is a prince in Daevabad and already shows the reader more about how things are going on there, before Nahri is in Daevabad as well. And then not just the royal life.
However, both these characters are not very old and so, as a reader, you don't immediately know everything about why things are the way they are now. Furthermore, you are stuck in these two heads and sometimes there are unexpected twists because outside characters did something. Which leaves many things as a surprise to you as a reader as well.
Every character is interesting and fun to read about, even if they don't make a huge growth in the story. They are all well-developed and everyone works on their own plans, which sometimes even the reader does not know until they are carried out. Each character thus continues to carry their secrets and that leaves a very nice bridge towards the second part.
I found this story incredibly enjoyable to read and am therefore very glad I bought this book because it looked nice. In fact, it really belongs to one of my top reads of 2022. This story takes you right away as Nahri gets himself into trouble on the very first few pages, thus inciting someone. After this, the story moves quickly past several points and, like Nahri, you are suddenly given a lot of information to digest. Though there is also plenty of time later on to explain the world, magic and people all.
Still, I found that here and there the story did get very slow at times. The chapters are already incredibly long (for me) and sometimes there would be so many descriptions for the same thing that it took effort for me to read through. Especially when the two arrived in Daevabad, the speed in the story slowed down a bit. Consequently, it took me quite a while to get through the middle section and I started this book again once, because I didn't really get any further the first time. Though I'm still glad I gave this book a second chance, because it really got great again later in the story.
The characters, the plot, the world, just everything. It's great. Incredibly well-crafted (sometimes maybe a little too well-crafted) and the story completely takes you, the reader, into the world where the story takes place. You feel like you’re alongside the characters and also try to imagine what will happen next. You like characters and you think some are terrible (though you may come back to that later when you see them from a different angle). This story just has it all.
Not only did I find Nahri's (and Dara's) story super to follow, but Ali's too. He may be the prince of Daevabad so everyone there immediately has an opinion about him, but behind his father's back he does things nobody expects from him. And although this story is a bit complex here and there, I will recommend everyone to give it a try and read it.
The Bronze City is a very well-written fantasy set in the East. The author's writing style immediately draws you into the story and you want to know what is going to happen all the time. The characters are interesting to read about and the setting and magic is also very well done. This story takes you on a journey and doesn't let you go until after the last sentence (although then you actually want to continue with part two right away). Truly a story for anyone in the mood for a story full of depth and riddles, as well as love and humor.
Let's finish with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"In what world do men and women pay the same price for passion?"
- S. A. Chakraborty. The city of brass.