Title: The City of Brass
(The Daevabad Trilogy #1)
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Length: 533 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publish Date: November 14, 2017
Death, Torture, Racism, Religious Discrimination,
Betrayal, Drinking & Drug Use, Gore,
Executions, Rape, Self-Harm
Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Indian,
I thought I was going to be in an adult fantasy reading slump for a long time after my last adult fantasy read, but holy balls Batman. This book literally blew me away, and I am so happy that I finally got to read it after two years of knowing about its existence. Or maybe a year. I listened to Chakraborty when she sat on an author panel at the 2018 BookCon and I was looking forward to reading it back then. But, then again I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted to, so I’m glad that I waited until I was in a better mindset.
And now I got to appreciate it the way it should have been appreciated!
On with the review.
So Nahri is a con artist, and a damn good one living in Cairo at the beginning of the novel. She also has an uncanny ability to heal the people around her when she wants to make a profit out of it, and can tell what’s wrong with someone better than any of the doctors or physicians in the village. While she may be confident with her con skills, she wasn’t so sure about her healing skills when it came to people other than… human. Something she has to work on, honestly.
Nahri ends up meeting Dara – well she somehow actually summons him during a ritual that she really didn’t know about when she did it – who seems to be a Daeva and of course she doesn’t really know the truth about what they really are. He is haunted by his past – like truly haunted to the point that his memories seem to be repressed so he doesn’t know what happened to him in the past fourteen hundred years or so. Sometimes he seems like he has a real stick up his ass but I get it. He can also be nice sometimes.
There’s also a supposedly pureblood Daeva Prince named Ali, and he has his hands in some shady stuff. For the good of the people maybe, like the halfbloods that seem to be treated as second class citizens in the city of Daevabad. He’s also the second born son, so he grew up training to be his brother’s bodyguard basically.
So like I mentioned, Nahri ends up summoning Dara and being chased by Ifrit, pretty much evil Djinn that still have their full powers but don’t have physical bodies. In order to escape the ghouls that the Ifrit wake up to eat their bodies – totally gruesome really – they slowly make their way to the Djinn city of Daevabad where nothing but the Djinn can cross the veil. In the meantime, Ali is having a hard time knowing where his loyalties like since he wants to be able to treat everyone in Daevabad as equals. However, that’s not the case since he comes from the long line of Qahtani family that completely decimated the Nahid family – Nahri’s ancestors – in order to take control of the city. So, what happens when Nahri and Ali cross paths? Oh, lots of stuff.
This entire world was built so well. It was magical – not just because the djinn could do magic and all that. I loved being in a different setting from must fantasy stories. The Djinn come from different tribes throughout Asia and parts of Africa, and there are other types of magical creatures as well that humans don’t seem to know about. Although I think that if humans truly knew the extent of what was really out there, and how different magical creatures came from the four elements and the constant state of war that they are in with one another.
I also loved the friendship that blossomed between Nahri and Dara, knowing full well that neither have them have probably ever had a true friend in such a long time. Then the friendship between Nahri and Ali, despite the real intentions behind their first few interactions may have not been genuine. I absolutely adore stories that can show men and women having friendships that don’t rely on sex or sexual tension all the time. Sure, there may have been unrequited love throughout the book from one or more parties involved, but the friendship that they did have for the majority of the book was great.
Does that even make sense? I don’t know.
Lots and lots and lots and lots of violence and death. I mean I get it too, but sometimes the deaths were very gory that I had to stop and look away for a bit to process what I just read. Then there was the racism and discrimination in Daevabad that kept happening against the halfbloods and the Djinn that weren’t on the same tribe or side as the Qahtani. And I get it, and it helped me understand why Dara was the way he was, why he was so adamant about trying to save his people from their oppressors and how history is told from the mouths of victors. I get it. Doesn’t mean I have to accept it or like it, you know? But I get it.
This wasn’t a dislike for the book either. It was just the content that I couldn’t really get through sometimes because of how terrible it was to read. I couldn’t imagine being in their shoes though.
I didn’t take notes again this time around, but there were a lot of parts that really had me stop and think. A lot of them dealt with the discrimination of the halfbloods (the shafit, sorry I just haven’t been saying the correct term for some reason) and how the Qahtanis treated their citizens. It was just terrible.
There was one line towards the latter part of the book that hurt me a lot, and I found it so here it is:
I almost cried when I got to that line because the flippant and disrespectful way that Nahri treated her own people was just astonishing. I know she didn’t grow up knowing what she was, and she doesn’t feel like one of them. But to knowingly use a slur that means so much hatred on her own people was just painful to read and see.
I know I’m the worst at finishing series, but I seriously want to finish this one. Especially after reading that epilogue? Holy crap. This book was great, and I feel like the next book is just going to get even better. I may or may not have spoiled some of it while reading the synopsis of the third book though, but I’ll forget it soon. Maybe. Wow, seriously this was one of the best adult fantasy novels I’ve ever read, and this made me glad to try more adult books lately. I love YA forever, but I’m so glad I read this one.