Hello. Good morning, afternoon, or evening.
For several months I have always gone straight to this book when I walk into a bookstore because I’ve been wanting to read it so much. I decided I didn’t want to purchase it so I borrowed it on audio from the library. Let’s talk. P.S. This is long-ish.
The City of Brass
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…
Perhaps listening to this on audio was a mistake for me. I somewhat wish I had read it in physical book form instead. There were parts of this book I was DEEPLY invested in. Then there would be parts I would be so glazed over for 45 minutes I’d have to go back and re-listen once or twice to the same thing so I didn’t lose the story line. I struggled but I also had fun. Does that make sense?
Nahri is a character I actually enjoyed. She was witty, somewhat sarcastic (which I’m finding is a quality I adore in characters), and figuring out life no matter the circumstances she finds herself in.
Dara. Well. Dara I actually loved. I loved Dara. When we first see him enter the story I thought “Oh great, here comes this asshole”. But, as the story went on and I tried to figure out if he was a good or bad guy, I realized he is neither. I enjoyed his affection for Nahri, his conflict over his very, very long life’s history and the future, and the way he is still able to love despite it all.
Ali is neither love-able nor hate-able. He is bound by blood to maintain the laws and rules his ruling family creates even though his heart and head tell him to act differently. While being on the more emotional side made him likeable, he did feel like a character who was constantly unsure of himself and therefore his development felt like a non-stop journey of going up and down hill after hill. Honor and blood. Compassion and caring for others. Finding a middle for him was difficult and while I could understand his position it left me feeling simply “meh” about him.
The parts I struggled with the most in this story was times where not much was happening or was usually when one of these characters and someone else were interacting with each other. Nahri and Dara were fine. But Nahri and Ali. Meh. Ali and Dara. Meh. Often in this situations nothing was really happening and even character development in these spots was low or nonexistent which made it hard to keep following. Hence the glaze fell over my mind and eyes.
The plot was usually interesting but sometimes a little slow. It continued this way throughout the entire story and at times left me wanting a little more than I got. Like many other books I kept wondering “Ok. But how is this going to end? Ok. But how is this going to help this person? Ok. But…why? Ok. But. But. But.“. I understand looking back that the entire story wasn’t meant to be quick paced, but at many points I wished it was anyway. How Nahri is important in this world, how Ali and Dara play into this, and how the world could one day be made or broken because of them all was much more clear at the end, but it did take a while to get to that understanding. Nahri’s gifts are interesting. Dara’s past was intriguing. I did appreciate how the two of them found each other, rocked the core of Ali’s city, and were plotting ways to change their futures.
Let’s switch gears here and talk about the parts that made it impossible to stop listening. The world. This story starts in Cairo and the travels that occur stem from Cairo outward. To hear about somewhere other my own backyard was truly refreshing. The dust, the landscapes, the way people lived based on these things – great. Check, check, and check.
Additionally, the amount of diversity in magic, creatures, and things I’m not familiar with made me SO happy. Daeva. Tanzeem. Shafit. Nahids. Djinn. YAS. I learned so much about other beliefs, creatures, worlds, and ideas from this story (whether real or not) and I applaud Chakraborty for this. Thank you for the diversity I didn’t know I needed but am so happy I received from this story.
Overall, the world and what is inside of it is wonderful. Diverse. Beautiful. Unique. Interesting. The characters, though, not as much. While I struggled in some parts of this story I will still be eager to see what happens to these character’s fates in the next book since we left off on a somewhat sad, cliff-hanging spot.
- Thoughts, anyone?
- If so, what are your thoughts on the location and magic of this world? The people? The characters?