Book Review: The City of Brass

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
Rating: 5 stars
Published: 11/14/17
Genre: YA, fantasy, historical fiction, new adult
Read: 11/20/17

Summary from Goodreads:

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 . . .

Oh. My. Gosh. This book. And my heart.

Ok, so Nahri is a badass. She’s incredibly strong, especially considering she’s a woman, from Egypt, and lived during the Ottoman Empire (that’s the 13th century). I mean, I know plenty of real, present day women who don’t grab their lives by the horns the way Nahri does. She makes her own way, lives her life the way she chooses, doesn’t let the glass ceiling or her own inabilities limit what she wants or can do. She is amazing.

Dara, on the other hand, kind of annoyed me at times. I mean, Nahri is such a strong character, but Dara kept treating her like she doesn’t know anything and can’t take care of herself. While yes, Nahri is ignorant about the world she just found out about, Dara really never explains things to her, so it’s not like it’s her fault. She figures things out for herself pretty well in my opinion. I do like their relationship when he’s not being overprotective. Also, when he’s not being grumpy I like him a lot better in general. I do wish we had gotten to see more of the beginning of his and Nahri’s interest in each other. It seemed pretty sudden to the reader, even though they had spent several months alone together.

I feel very bad for Ali. He got the raw end of just about everything in this book, but he seems like a very good person djinn, though also maybe a bit ignorant? He lives very much in his own ideological head, so he doesn’t seem to understand how slow to change or overcome prejudice society usually is. He really grew on me through the story, and I loved watching his friendship with Nahri grow.

I did get a bit confused about the difference between “daeva” and “djinn,” as people kept saying they’re the same thing but not? I think all daevas are djinns, but not all djinn are daeva? I think daeva might be a religion? I don’t know. There was a glossary at the end, so I should go back and check that. I was also confused about some of the history between the tribes and Dara’s history. I think some of that was intentional – Dara was supposed to explain it to Nahri at one point, but never did – but it was also that all so much of the information was really spread out and mentioned in reference, rather than explained.

There were some implications of potentially gay characters, but before that was expanded upon all the action broke out. So hopefully that will have more page time in the next book. It will be very interesting to see how a homosexual relationship will be viewed in the djinn world compared to what I would expect out of the human world at that time.

This was a very fast paced book, except for a little bit towards the middle, but I could barely put it down. Especially at the end. There was so much that made me happy and so much that made me really sad and one thing at the very end that made me very hopeful.

I think my least favorite thing about ARCs is that you have to wait even longer for the next book in the series to be published (even though I didn’t end up reading this one until after the publish date…). But that ending! HOW am I going to stand waiting to see what happens?? There isn’t even a publish date for the next book! 😦

Have you read City of Brass? What are your thoughts? What are your favorite books with strong female leads?

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