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The Daevabad Trilogy #1

The City of Brass

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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...

532 pages, Hardcover

First published November 14, 2017

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About the author

S.A. Chakraborty

9 books10.8k followers
S. A. Chakraborty is the author of the critically acclaimed and internationally best-selling The Daevabad Trilogy. Her work has been nominated for the Locus, World Fantasy, Crawford, and Astounding awards. When not buried in books about thirteen-century con artists and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and re-creating unnecessarily complicated medieval meals. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @SAChakrabooks, where she likes to talk about history, politics, and Islamic art. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and an ever-increasing number of cats.

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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,311 reviews120k followers
June 26, 2022
It’s time to polish that special lamp gathering webs in the attic, put a fine edge on your bladed weaponry, remind yourself of ancient tribal insults and outrages, dust off that list of wishes that is around here somewhere and vacuum your magic carpet. You are about to be transported.

“The Magic Carpet” (detail), 1880, by Apollinary Mikhaylovich Vasnetsov © State Art Museum, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia/Bridgeman Art Library

Nahri, our Aladdin here, is a twenty-year-old thief and con artist, working marks in 18th Century French-occupied Cairo. She has a gift for discerning medical maladies and another for treating them. She is adept at languages and at parting the unwary from their money. When she is called in to help deal with a 12-year-old girl who is possessed, she rolls her eyes and opts to have a bit of fun trotting out an old spell that has never worked before. The difference here is that she tries it in a language she seems to have known forever, but which no one else has ever heard. Turns out the girl really was possessed, by a particularly nasty entity, and turns out that Nahri’s little experiment summoned a very scary djinn. In a flash, the evil possessor spirit and a large number of its dead minions are on her like decay on a corpse. Thankfully, the djinn is there to save the day, with extreme prejudice. Thus begins a beautiful friendship.

Image from deviantart.net

The frustrated pursuers have made Cairo a no-go zone for Nahri, so she and the djinn, Dara (which is a small portion of his entire name) head for the place where people of his sort reside, the world capital of the magical races, Daevabad, the Brass City of the title.

From Bensozia - Illustration by Edmund Dulac for Stories from the Arabian Nights

To call Dara a hottie would be a bit of an understatement. Handsome? For sure. Incredibly powerful? Fierce in battle? Be afraid, be very afraid. Able to leap tall minarets in a single flying carpet? You betcha. As if that were not enough, he is literally a creature of fire, and emits actual smoke. You never had a friend like him.

Cairo may present imminent threats of death, but Daevabad is no prize either. Ancient tribal hatreds are kept at bay by a strong, and ruthless ruler. King Ghassan ibn Khader al Qahtani must contend not only with inter-tribal tensions, he must cope with a growing insurgency. (Think sundry Middle East rulers with tribally diverse populations.) There are many who feel that laws favoring purebloods are unjust, and want those of mixed Djinn-human blood, shafit, (think mudbloods) to be treated fairly. One of those happens to be the king’s number two son. Ali is a very devout young (18) man. As second in line, he is destined to help his older brother, Muntadhir, rule, as, basically, the head of security. He is extremely adept at sword-fighting and has gained a good reputation among the other student-warriors at the Citadel, a military training school (not in South Carolina) where he has been living and training for some years. Dad would not be pleased were he to learn that junior was giving money to an organization that purports to offer civilian-only aid to shafit, but is also rumored to be involved in a more military form of activity. (Think Hamas)
S.A. Chakraborty - image from her site
Revolutionary tensions are on the rise, palace intrigues as well, as trust is something one could only wish for. One key question is where Nahri really came from, who is she, really? It matters. And what happened to the ancient tribe that was chosen by Suleiman himself to rule, way back when.

There are magic rings, flaming swords, strange beings of diverse sorts, plots, battles, large scale and small, plenty of awful ways to die, without that being done too graphically. And there is even a bit of interpersonal attraction. Did I mention Dara being smokin’? There is also some romantic tension between Nahri and Ali. Add in a nifty core bit of history centered on Suleiman.


One of the great strengths of City of Brass is the lode of historical knowledge the author brings to bear.
It actually started not as a novel, but as sort of a passion project/exercise in world-building that I never intended to show a soul! I’m a big history buff and with The City of Brass I wanted to recreate some of the stunning worlds I’d read about while also exploring traditional beliefs about djinn. A bit contrary to Western lore, djinn are said to be intelligent beings similar to humans, created from smokeless fire and living unseen in our midst—a fascinating, albeit slightly frightening concept, this idea of creatures living silently among us, dispassionately watching the rise and fall of our various civilizations. - from the Twinning for Books interview

Zulfiqar - image from mere-vision.com

Chakraborty, our Sheherezade here, fills us in on much of the history of how the djinn came to build their human-parallel world, offering not just what is, but how what is arose from what was.
there’s a djinn version of Baghdad’s great library, filled with the ancient books humans have lost alongside powerful texts of magic; they battle with weapons from Achaemenid Persia (enhanced by fire of course); the medical traditions of famed scholars like Ibn Sina have been adapted to treat magical maladies; dancers conjure flowers while singing Mughal love songs; a court system based on the Zanzibar Sultanate deals justice to merchants who bewitch their competitors… not to mention a cityscape featuring everything from ziggurats and pyramids to minarets and stupas. - from the Twinning for Books interview
There are a lot of names to remember, words to learn, tribes to keep straight, and allegiances to keep track of. I found myself wishing there was a list somewhere that helped keep it all straight, and “Poof!” there it appeared at the back of the book, a glossary, rich with useful information. It could have been a bit larger though. I would have liked for it to include a list of the djinn tribes, with information about each, their geographical bases, proclivities, languages, you know, stuff. The information can be found in the book itself, but it would have been nice to have had a handy short reference.

image from upstaged entertainment

The City of Brass is both very smart and very entertaining. The richness of the world we see here gives added heft to a wonderful story. The world Chakraborty has created hums with humanity, well, whatever the djinn equivalent might be for humanity (djinnity?). You will smell the incense, want to keep a damp cloth at hand to wipe the dust and sand from your face, and a cool drink nearby to help with the heat. It probably wouldn’t hurt to post a lookout in case someone decides to try spiking your drink or inserting a long blade into your back. This is a wonderful, engaging, and fun read. It will not take you a thousand and one nights to read, but you might prefer that it did. The only wish you will need when you finish reading The City of Brass is for Volume 2 of this trilogy, The Kingdom of Copper, to appear, NOW!!!


Review first posted – July 28, 2017

Publication date – November 14, 2017

When you finish this one, you will definitely want to read the rest of the trilogy
-----#2 - The Kingdom of Copper
-----#3 - The Empire of Gold

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal and Twitter pages

Interview - Twinning For Books

A link to a map with a key to the main places noted in the book

The M Word: Muslin Americans Take the Mic - a panel discussion including Chakraboty and two other Islamic women writers – hosted by Hussein Rashid

The City of Brass - from Arabian Nights, on Gutenberg

November 9, 2017 - City of Brass is among the nominees for Amazon's book of the year - Science Fiction and Fantasy

There was a traveling museum exhibit back in the 1980s, called, I believe, The Story of Suleyman. It included an amazing soundtrack by Brian Keane and Omar Faruk Tikbelik. Here are a few items from that. This music kept popping into my head as I read.
-----Suleyman the Magnificent
-----Saint Sophia
-----A Call to Prayer
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.6k followers
September 7, 2023
Well I've tried to finish this book 3 times in 5 years... I officially give up (58%).

There's nothing wrong with it but I can't seem to push through. I don't care enough even if the world and magic system seem to have potential.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
807 reviews3,839 followers
January 30, 2018
Full review FINALLY posted

Every time I think about this book and how excited I was to read it and how it caused me the biggest disappointment of my life I laugh through my tears bc wHY WAS I EXPECTING ANYTHING LESS

Im aware ^ sentence made no sense but im really fragile and vulnerable and sad right now also it took me like 3 weeks to read this book ??? so I also feel scammed. I want a refund my time and tears.

i'm terribly sad to be writing such a review because i had SO MUCH HIGH hopes for this book. le sigh.

Okay, so this is slightly hilarious but I before I read this tragedy, I wrote a pre-review of sorts gushing my heart out about how proud and honoured I was to see an #OwnVoice muslim+/middle eastern fantasy so well celebrated in the YA community (don’t get me wrong, I still am SO HAPPY to see such diversity become a more common occurrence) but LIKE AT THAT POINT I WAS WILLING TO 5 STAR IT ON THAT BASIS ONLY I DIDN’T KNOW THE PAIN AND DISAPPOINTMENT THAT WAS IN STORE FOR ME :’)


Onto the review tho…

- Ummmmmmmmmmmmm
- The world building ?? it’s complex and ish
- Alizayd. He’s my little bean.
- There were some moments that were semi-funny and I half laughed and then dissolved into a puddle of disappointment
- The ENDING was actually more exciting than the entire 500 prior pages but didn’t make up for all my time and effort wasted
- That’s all I can think of :(

- I tried to like nahri bc she’s like this girl going against all odds but she annoyed me a lot and the way she acts. Shes so standoff-ish and fake about her religion, its like she’s just muslim by name bc she literally gives zero regard for any Islamic guidelines or principles and ughghghghghghghhh. Shes just so afjdsakfas
- I get that theyre supposed to be in some //morally corrupt// society but COME ON why the heck do all the ones who give two craps about their religion always have to be deemed “boring, naïve, blind follower etc. etc.” yeesh let people live their lives
- ACTUALLY I feel like THE ISLAMIC aspect wasn’t EVEN NECESSARY to the story bc personally, it fell really flat and I can see how it would be confusing and maybe even counter-productive for people who aren’t well read in the faith. If it was just kept as a Middle Eastern rep, I probably would have liked it better.
- Because like what’s the point of having a muslim fantasy if I don’t even feel represented :| the world shall never know

the actual story aspects …
- Its so dense
- Its so hard to read
- The world building is so….complex it actually crossed over into the line of “complicated” and overshadows ANYTHING ELSE
- Its confusing. Oh, so, very, confusing.
- Legit no one knows whats happening or why its happening or for what reason
- Basically just info-dumping info on the world and politics and Arabian mythology
- But where is the plot you ask?? Missing.
- I literally felt like the romance was the only thing occurring besides the info dumping how sad
- And then there are creeping signs of a love triangle and I was just curled up in a ball shrieking
- Dara is a piece of poop :) I liked him for 0.45 seconds and then arrogance and idiocy flooded out of his pores and I died
- I
- SO
- Also I’ve diagnosed that nahri is suffering from a very terrible case of Special Snowflake Syndrome :( how tragic
- I probably missed a whole lot of ish that I initially wanted to rant about but oh well.

Also, these are my opinions okay don’t @ me please, im smol.

On a more positive note, the best part of the book for me was the acknowledgements, it literally warmed my heart and I wish Chakraborty the best in her future works even if I won’t be continuing with this series oops

1.5 stars!


Buddy read with gluten free & saunta & pink polka-dot cat ears & the blog queen

i just have one thing to say, ahem
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 294 books99.1k followers
April 13, 2018
As always, I want to let others know that I received this book as a gift from my publishers. In this instance, I have not met the author, but hope that at some time I will.

Do you remember the first time a book took you out of your culture? I think for most of us it happens in childhood. For me, my passage to other countries and times came in the form of fairy tales and legends. We had a fat volume of Arabian Nights (most likely edited for kids) with lavish line illustrations. That was my first introduction to Sinbad the Sailor and Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp and many other wonderful tales. And it was my first introduction to Genies, as they were spelled in that wonderful book.

When I ventured into City of Brass, it was like stepping back into that wonderful confusion one feels when one ventures into an 'exotic' (not your own) culture. This was not my magic, not my wondrous beings and creatures.

Nahri was the perfect guide to take me into this story. She is the 'outsider' in the tale, the person with a nebulous past and a precarious future. A thief, a con artist and a charlatan, she tempts fate when she inadvertently dabbles in an older, deeper magic.

And that is as close to a spoiler as I'm going to get. Fantasy is rich in many flavor; in fantasy, we are all citizens of the magical worlds. Step in and enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Samantha.
441 reviews16.8k followers
December 27, 2022
I was entranced from the beginning of this book. Politics, schemes, magic, brutality, and beauty all wrapped into one. I cannot wait to continue with the series.

I’ll be doing a full review and discussion on my channel.
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
614 reviews764 followers
April 3, 2018

The long-overdue review finally posted.

This could and would have been a 5-star read for me had it not been for that incredibly slow start all the way through almost the end of the book.
The first half was very much foundational which introduced us to the world, the characters, as well as the inner workings and machinations of the city of Brass. Obviously, this is highly appreciated but I don’t think we needed to spend the entire three-quarters of the book just getting introduced to things. I get bored easily as it is.🤦‍♀️

So, I'm torn. I still don’t know if I'm happy or angry at this book. Initially, I rated it 4.5 stars (purely for the ending) but I don’t think spending almost the entirety of the book bored or confused only to get an explosive ending is a reason enough to be this generous so, I took it down a notch to 3.5 stars.

At first glance, this novel was everything I dreamt of, a Middle Eastern folklore. I'm a sucker for Eastern and Asian folklore and as someone who's always had a soft spot for anything related to Egypt (I’m not Egyptian incase you think I’m being biased. I just really love the country, its rich history and the people in general), I was so thrilled that I couldn’t even wait for the book to be released in the UK (which will be in March), so I ordered my copy from the US. That’s how badly I wanted to immerse myself in what I'd initially thought would be a magical time travel back to 18th-Century Cairo. Let me give you some pointers, here:

✨ A MC who’s a con artist and gets caught up in one of her cons.
✨ A Djinn warrior with a mysterious past. 
✨ Djinns who can be loyal or deceitful as the occasion demands; ghouls who rise from the grave to devour the living; Mythical and terrifying creatures that fly through the air. 
✨ Monsters who dwell in the water and kill both djinns and humans. 
✨ Flying carpets. Shape-shifters. Clan warfare. Personal ambitions. Power politics. Racial and religious tensions.
All culminating in a cataclysmic showdown in a legendary city protected by magical brass. 

Now, please tell me if that doesn't sound like the kind of book you'd want to devour in a single day.

Let's start off with the plot:

Although the book was filled with action-packed scenes with a good amount of storytelling information, which made for somewhat of a rich reading experience, it all came in too little too late.
All of the excitement was sprung upon us toward the very last few pages when by then, the reader (or maybe just myself) was already too exhausted over the slow beginning and middle parts. I mean, Nahri doesn't even make it to Daevebad until after we’re way past the first half of the book.

Another source of disappointment for me was the political aspects and the inner workings of Daevabad. The rules and organization of this world became so overwhelming at points that I had to go back and re-read some parts to really understand what was going on. Some, I still don't.
And if you’ve read some of my reviews in the past, you know that a heavy dose of political intrigue in fantasy is my Achilles heel. I genuinely get weak in the knees for books with that aspect and the fact that I couldn’t get behind this particular world was heartbreaking and discouraging. The frustration alone almost made me quit because I felt like I was reading with my eyes closed.
I still don’t know the difference between a Daeva and a djinn!

Now onto the characters:


Oh, dear. Nahri and I started out with a bang then took a serious dive down, out of which neither of us made it alive.

The book has two perspectives, one of which is Nahri, who, at the beginning was primarily the kind of MC I love to read about. She was sharp-tongued, independent and a likeable con artist, who makes her living on the streets of Cairo by swindling nobles and also has the ability to sense illness in others and to heal some ailments. I mean, right!?

I felt an instant personal connection to her because, well, growing up, some kids dream of becoming a doctor or whatever but ever since I was a kid and watched some unfortunate TV show (or a movie that ruined all other dreams for me), all I'd wanted to become was a con artist. I proudly admit my childhood dream.
Everything about it looked and sounded appealing (in the eyes of a child, through the TV screen, I suppose), pulling off one unforgettable con after another, living off your wits and charm etc… sadly, I had neither the wit nor the charm to pull anything off and had to settle for a normal childhood. So, obviously this was my chance to live vicariously through Nahri and I jumped on that wagon faster than a speeding bullet.

She started out so well. She was a survivor; clever and mischievous, making decisions with her head rather than her heart, who’d do what needed to be done to make it through another day and though not all her decisions could be labelled as sound, they were necessary nonetheless. I appreciated that so much, after all, who isn’t a sucker for a survivor story?
All that went straight in the bin toward the end. As the plot finally progressed, her character basically regressed. Page after page she kept making one foolish decision after another which was so unlike her, as if the Nahri at the beginning of the novel transformed into a completely different character by the end.
All that pride I felt at the start was crushed to pieces as she became a great source of disappointment when the book ended. It was very disheartening and I am not pleased.

Prince Alizayd:

The second perspective is told through Ali. As with Nahri, Ali, the benevolent second son of the current king, who will never inherit the throne but wants desperately to make amends to those he thinks his people have wronged, starts out remarkably and takes a tumble down in the end. As things were finally moving along, both Ali and Nahri's actions became so infuriating that I started rooting for whatever monster was the talk of the town to knock some sense into them or, more accurately, to just ingest them and be done with it.


My favourite character from beginning to end was Dara. The “frighteningly beautiful,” kidnapper/rescuer Djin who becomes Nahri’s saviour after she gets caught up in one of her cons and ends up being pursued by a monster or Djin of some sort (I'm still confused as to who’s who in this novel).
And as luck would have it, he knows the answer to the mystery of Nahri’s origins, who’s a Shafit, a descendant of a half-magical tribe, thought to have become extinct.
Thus, in an effort to save her, the mysterious protector and Nahri embark on a journey to the city of Daevabad, which’s where their adventure begins.
I loved everything about Dara. I was intrigued by him from the moment he entered the picture and as the plot advanced and his mysterious yet tragic past slowly started to unravel, I sympathised with him, rooted for him and quite literally, he became the reason I wanted to finish the book.

All in all, it was a fun-ish read but no minds were blown here. I loved it for the sole reason that it shifted the centre away from western myths, with a strong conclusion and a craftily set up epilogue. I'll give credit where credit is due, the epilogue was incredible.
The author combines some of the plot’s surprises with vivid prose and evens out the action with wry humour but with enough material that was already at hand, it could've been leveraged to turn it into an even more of an epic read with non-stop adventures.
Maybe with the next one.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.8k followers
March 22, 2021
the only way to describe this book is as an enticingly ambitious journey.

one you will need to be prepared to endure, because it is long and somewhat exhausting. as the most rewarding journeys tend to be.

but i assure you, you will experience some of the most magical surprises and adventures, meet some of the most complex and intriguing characters, and devour some of the most deliciously crafted words along the way.

and once you finally reach the destination, well, its a wonder beyond anything you could imagine. its lush in middle eastern folklore, with details that generously immerse the reader in a world that is full of lavish culture and vibrant life.

this book is the kind of journey that, by the time you reach the end, no matter how challenging it is to get there, is worth it.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Nicole.
514 reviews14.3k followers
September 25, 2022
Coż to był za rollercoaster emocji pod koniec!
Profile Image for Warda.
1,211 reviews19.7k followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 2, 2018
Edit: I've decided to not go back to this book.
For one, I realised how relieved I felt when I decided to quit on it.
Second, I would stop mid-sentence and paragraph several times.
Third, I do not think I'll be missing out on greatness if I don't read it. 🌚
Farewell, book. We broke up for good.

So, this took a turn. 😬
I want to blame the book. I think I will blame the book. But this could also very well be that I haven't been in the mood to read fantasy books in forever.
So I'm putting a stop to this before it puts me in a slump, since I was getting more and more reluctant to read it.
God knows when I'll pick it up. If I ever do that is.


Expecting great things from this Muzlamic book. I've already up in my feelings by seeing words like hijab, fajr and abaya!

Profile Image for Joshita ❤.
181 reviews436 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
October 13, 2022

I am sorry but I don't think we can work this out. Believe me when I say that it is not YOU—it is ME. That does sound like the biggest lie, doesn't it? But I haven't even explored you entirely and I can't judge something I haven't seen the full potential of (that just sounds very inappropriate in my mind now). For a brief time, we knew each other...10 chapters to be precise, I liked you, or maybe I liked the idea of you because everyone else liked you. Then I even stretched this relationship for a month, in hopes that maybe someday I can read you as everyone else does. But—I can't :(
There is nothing wrong with you at all. But the thought of quitting filled me with relief, it felt like a burden lifting off my shoulders. And that is, in no way a healthy relationship. I can't keep the act up, I can't do that to you and certainly not MYSELF. I can not force myself to stay here anymore. So, I have decided to part ways...forever for now. Maybe someday in the future, we can reconnect and work whatever differences we have but as for now, I am leaving. Just remember that I tried to like you—Good luck!
*takes the suitcase, slams the door and runs out cheerfully*
Profile Image for chloe.
246 reviews28.5k followers
September 27, 2020
i really wanted to LOVE this book but unfortunately it just didn't work for me 😭i wasn't super invested in the characters so i didn't really care about what was going on (i also found it confusing at times). it definitely wasn't a bad book and the world was amazing, it just didn't work for me personally.
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,075 followers
February 24, 2018
The feeling you get when one of your most anticipated books lives up to your expectations is one of the best. It’s the contentment that you feel about not hating everything you read. It’s the peacefulness that you feel knowing that you actually can like books. And most of all, it’s the excited feeling of finally NOT being crushed by overwhelming disappointment that a book turned out to be as good as you thought it was.

Unfortunately, The City of Brass did not give me ANY of those feelings whatsoever!!

In fact, I had to DNF the book at page 353 because I found that I’d stopped caring about… 353 pages ago. This was after 19 DAYS of trying extremely hard to find a sliver of motivation, a tiny piece that would make me like (or even just tolerate) this book and keep going. (Tbh it was probably just 14 days and then another 5 days of not reading but still pretending like I actually cared enough to finish.)

But nope!! None of that happened!! Somehow I sinned, and some entity thinks that my first one-star read of the year should also be the book I mentally five-starred and expected to become one of my favorites. I feel like someone just held out a chocolate-chip cookie to me and said I could have it, only to snatch it away from me when I reach for it. WHO DOES THAT.


My main problem with this book was the writing. I swear, the writing was the equivalent of every single time I almost fell asleep in class because I was SO. BORED. It was extremely dry and dense and even harder to get through than a standardized test you take for four hours and all the black text starts swimming in front of your eyes. I honestly felt so emotionally drained from just opening the book sometimes that I didn’t even have the energy to close it????

Like I get how some people could see it as beautiful, or amazing, or whatever glowing compliments they have to serve it. But… y’all it was so boring that I didn’t even finish reading one page before getting distracted by the straw in my mouth and moving it around for at least five minutes and then realizing that I wasn’t reading anymore, trying to read, and giving up after I read two pages.

It was a STRAW. A straw was more entertaining this book. I bet I could’ve swallowed that straw and it would still hurt less than reading this, jesus christ!!!

I mean, there were literal 300-WORD ESSAYS on what simple objects or rooms looked like. It described what a throne looked like in approximately 51038746 words??? That’s 5102938744 WORDS TOO MANY—you could literally say “the throne” and I’d imagine a throne. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Two words. You could even just describe it in ONE word, “throne”, and I’d still be able to imagine a throne!! Wow!!!

Listen, if I can’t keep my attention on one page because of excessive descriptions, how do you expect me to pay attention for the rest of the book?? I lost my focus, empathy, and any willpower to live about 300 pages ago, unfortunately.

To be fair this is all really just personal preference but I really could not click with the writing style at all and my experience was GREAT...ly affected in a way that made it impossible to actually read and enjoy the book.


What made the dry-dense-makes-me-want-to-die writing even WORSE was that for like the first 50% of the book, all Nahri and Dara were doing was roaming around in the desert. Doing nothing, except flirting but pretending they didn’t like each other because it’s FoRBidDeN. Are we really still pretending like we care?? In this economy???

And tbh the whole premise was a very generic fantasy plot. The mythology made it different and more interesting, but it’s basically just a fancy version of: girl discovers she is Speshul and has mAGiCaL POweRs—takes an eternity to travel to the place of Speshul People—falls in love with someone on the way because yes of course there has to be romance even when the characters have absolutely no chemistry—[insert other generic fantasy plot events that happened because I gave up after that]

The characters were all very meh. Nahri and Ali were both quite bland and didn’t really have any character traits. Like you know paper? That blank white thin sheet of nothing? That’s exactly what reminds me of them. And while Dara wasn’t the BEST character, at least he had an actual, you know, personality. And he roasted Ali so that was extremely entertaining.

(Also I realize I didn’t introduce who the characters were at all but I literally Do Not Care, and I definitely Do Not Feel Obliged To Give Any More Of My Energy For The Sake Of This Book. So just trust me when I say they are, uhhhh, not worth my time writing or your time reading. You can thank me later when you DNF this book at page one.)


And my final complaint is the worldbuilding. I actually found the whole Daeva world super interesting, but unfortunately, I had no idea what was going on. Apparently there are Daeva, who are also called djinn, but some Daeva aren’t called djinn and I only know WHY from another person’s review??? And then there are different Daeva tribes all over the continent, but there’s one specific tribe that’s called Daeva, and there’s nothing to differentiate the tribe and the species as a whole??

I mean, I might be stupid (I am) but the worldbuilding confused me so much. And it also was literally DUMPED onto the reader in the first hundred pages, plus all the historical context and cultural background. The whole experience can be easily compared to sitting on the toilet for too long that you get pins and needles, and when you try to walk, you almost fall over from the sudden pain that erupts in your feet that you didn’t ask for because you just wanted to pee!!!


• ownvoices Muslim rep!!! in fantasy!!!! which is so so important!!!! (I can’t comment on the rep so I recommend you read May’s ownvoices review!)
• beautiful brown characters!!
• it is set in the Middle East!!
• a hijabi is on the cover!!
• okay that’s it

Anyways, my favorite emotion is crippling disappointment, so I’m glad I got to experience that with this book!! I’m now going to take a one-way trip to Antarctica to live with the penguins because I’m emotionally exhausted from all the effort it took me to read this without compensation, and even if penguins smell horrible, they’ll never let me down like this book did!!!

Little quick disclaimer because I’m paranoid!!! I realize I was a bit... harsh with this book. But honestly if you want to read, read it!! I think it’s an important book, especially concerning rep!! But I’m extremely salty over this and the only way to get my salt out is to uhhhh roast things.

// failed buddy read with the fav fake & oldie & pretty p*ni
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
721 reviews1,121 followers
October 1, 2019

“Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”

This was a wonderful and immersive fantasy. Though at times the world building was pretty damn heavy and I still don’t understand everything even after finishing all 500 pages. (Like the difference between Djinn and Daeva, and what the war was actually caused by.) There are loads of tribes, and religions and stuff.

Despite this, Nahri is a fantastic heroine. She is feisty yet soft when she needs to be, able to take care of herself without being an asshole. The best of all the traits!

As Nahri is attacked in a graveyard by a young girl possessed by a demon she unwittingly calls out to a Daeva. This Daeva turns up, rather begrudgingly and immediately wonders how a human girl was able to call him to her – there is definitely more to Nahri than meets the eye.

He takes her to his homeland, a place Dara hasn’t been back to in years (even centuries), where he believes she will be safe. Daevabad is an incredible place – filled with magic and royalty and danger, ruled by the Quatani family.

On arrival everyone soon realises Nahri has an amazing heritage. She is related to a long line that everyone thought had been destroyed. Suddenly everyone wants a piece of her.

I loved all the different characters, from Dara the big, strong Daeva who carries so much hatred in his heart, to Prince Ali the uptight second son who anchors himself to his religion. I liked the way that religion is depicted here – as a choice, and a respected choice at that. No one calls anyone crazy for their beliefs, they just are, and it is really refreshing.

Overall, I loved getting swept up in this world and I am looking forward to starting book 2!


Really excited for this one :)
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
March 31, 2019

Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Nahri, a young woman living alone in 18th century Cairo, gets by doing minor cons, fake healing rituals and a little theft. She knows nothing about her parents or heritage but, in addition to being able to diagnose disease in others with a glance and occasionally truly heal them, her own body automatically heals of injuries almost instantly and she has the magical ability to understand ― and speak ― any language.

Nahri’s life gets upended when she accidentally summons Darayavahoush, a fiery, handsome djinn warrior, to her side while performing a sham healing ceremony. After he gets over his murderous rage at being involuntarily summoned, Dara saves Nahri from murderous ifrit and ghouls who have become aware of Nahri and her abilities. Dara quickly enchants a magic carpet and, dragging along the reluctant Nahri, he flees with her toward Daevabad, the legendary city of brass inhabited by magical djinn (or, more properly, daeva). But there are warring political factions in Daevabad among the six different djinn tribes, and appalling mistreatment of the mixed-blood, partly human underclass of shafits. Nahri and Dara each have trouble that may await them there in Daevabad, for different reasons.

The chapters of The City of Brass (2017), S.A. Chakraborty’s debut fantasy novel based on Middle Eastern mythology, alternate between two characters’ points of view: Nahri, the feisty young con artist with a mysterious magical heritage, and Prince Alizayd al Qahtani, the second son of the ruler of Daevabad. Ali is a rather tightly wound but honorable young warrior with a mixed heritage himself, has sympathy for those who are mistreated. But in trying to secretly (and illegally) fund needed educational and medical services for the oppressed shafits, he may be stirring up even more trouble.

Chakraborty, who spent years studying Middle Eastern history and developing the magical world in which this story is set, has created a vibrant and exotic setting in The City of Brass. (There’s a helpful glossary at the end of the book that defines some of the Middle Eastern terminology and magical beings). Some of the setting details are memorable, like the palace in Daevabad that mourns its missing founding family, the Nahids. The gardens are an untamed wilderness, stairs go missing, water in fountains frequently turns to blood. When Nahri, a lost member of the Nahid family, arrives in the city, the palace magically begins to spiff itself up. In this exotic setting, Chakraborty examines some timeless human issues, like prejudice, torn loyalties, and the effect of violence on a person’s heart.

The City of Brass has a fast-paced beginning that sucks the reader right in, as Nahri and Dara flee through the desert toward Daevabad, pursued by deadly enemies, and develop a relationship based on equal parts irritation and attraction. Once they reach Daevabad, the great city of brass, the plot slows down and gets a little muddled. There are too many competing factions and conflicts: between pureblood djinn and shafits, between the different djinn tribes and other magical elementals, and between those who support the currently ruling Qahtani family and those who are intent on bringing back Nahid rule, using Nahri.

Additionally, there are conflicts within the hearts of each of the main characters. Dara isn’t really certain he wants to take Nahri to Daevabad, where capture or death may be his fate, and where his violent past, which still haunts him, may catch up to him. Nahri isn’t at all convinced she wants to go there either; she rather liked her life as it was, and she doesn’t intend to be anyone’s pawn. And Prince Ali is caught between warring factions and loyalties, trying to balance both.
“You won’t be able to continue like this, Alizayd,” he warned. “To keep walking a path between loyalty to your family and loyalty to what you know is right. … Because on the day of your judgment, Alizayd … when you’re asked why you didn’t stand up for what you knew was just …” He paused, his next words finding Ali’s heart like an arrow. “Loyalty to your family won’t excuse you.”
It’s a conflict-driven plot, with both physical violence and subtler conspiring and conniving. While some of the more tangential factions and contentions are hazy in their nature and motivations, overall The City of Brass is a compelling read. Chakraborty won back my enthusiasm with a rousing game-changer of an ending. I didn’t even care that it was a cliffhanger! Now I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in THE DAEVABAD TRILOGY, The Kingdom of Copper, expected to be published in 2018.

The City of Brass, while it isn’t being marketed as a young adult fantasy, has crossover qualities. It has two younger main characters and, despite the web of conflicts, it’s written in a fairly straightforward style. It’s likely to appeal to older teenagers as well as many adults.

Totally tangential issue: I've seen this book praised for being #ownvoices. While it's true that S.A. Chakraborty is Muslim, she's a convert to that faith. She's originally from New Jersey and of Irish Catholic heritage. Personally I don't think it matters; she's clearly immersed herself in this culture and done a lot of study, and if she wants to call herself S.A. rather than Shannon and write about Middle Eastern mythology even if it's not her heritage or race, I don't have any issue with it as long as she (and other authors) do that thoughtfully and after doing a due amount of homework. We should judge this book on its own merits, not because of who the author is or isn't.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. Thanks!!

Content notes: A fair amount of violence that might be disturbing to some readers, discussion of sexual and other types of slavery, scattered F-bombs. Personally I wouldn't recommend it for the younger teens or preteens.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
433 reviews1,791 followers
November 28, 2020
“So you just live quietly with these powers?" he demanded. "Haven't you ever wondered why you have them? Suleiman's eye... you could be overthrowing governments, and instead you steal from peasants!”

Nahri grew up in the streets of 18th century Cairo — a con artist and a thief.

Though possessing mysterious healing abilities herself, Nahri does not believe in magic. It comes as a shock to her when one night she accidentally summons a djinn named Darayavahoush.

Dara informs Nahri that she is not a normal human girl but a shafit - half human, half djinn-and the last remaining descendant of the Nahids, a legendary tribe of healers.

She finds herself on a journey with Dara across Egypt to another realm called Daevebad, the City of Brass, while also trying to outrun the ifrit (ghoul spirits) who are desperate to catch her.

Prince Alizayd, second son to the king of Daevebad, is entangled in the perilous political conflict. He struggles to be loyal to his family while also trying to advocate for the shafit who live in terrible conditions and treated horribly because of their mixed blood status.

The City of Brass follows both Alizayd and Nahri, with alternating chapters. This is adult fantasy that read like YA. Which is awesome! I like that and think we need more series like this. The writing was easy and I didn't find the politics too complicated.

I liked some of the characters but others not so much. I'm not sure I get the whole Dara hype. I find him infuriating and wanted to slap him everytime he spoke. But perhaps his personality improves in the next books.

It started out really easy and fun but then started to drag at about 40%. I had to push myself through and then thankfully things picked up again at 80%.

It was so nice seeing familiar words like abaya, InshaAllah, sheikh and our greetings of peace — it made me so happy to see!


It bothered me how everyone craps on Ali for being religious. He is the only character in this book who seems to be a practicing Muslim and it made me so uncomfortable to see how everyone, especially his own family treat him. It just felt too familiar to how we (muslims) are already viewed. I didn't see what the point is of having a fantasy steeped in Islamic culture but then the only Muslim is known as a radical and seen as old fashioned because he's a believer?? Mmkay

Personally I think Ali was the ONLY good thing in this book. I loved him to bits and I'll be continueing this series for him, and him alone.


I need another series to obsess over. Plus now I get to meet the infamous Dara!

To all the people who've been nagging me to read this series (you know who you are) I hope y'all pray this isn't a flop for me
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews99 followers
February 1, 2018
It's like the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.
Profile Image for Sarah.
689 reviews163 followers
October 30, 2017
Soo.... This book. If you've been following my updates you probably already know I wasn't a huge fan. There are a lot of things The City of Brass does right, and one very important thing it doesn't. I'm also going to cover this review with a disclaimer in saying that I think plenty of readers will enjoy this book. It might just be me.

I really loved Nahri's character from the beginning. She's a thief and a con artist. She has a smart mouth and doesn't really take crap from anyone. If you give her a hard time, she'll probably rob you blind. She is one of two main characters in this book.

The second main character was Prince Alizayd. He is a Qahtani prince of the djinn. It took me a long, long time to enjoy his character. It was at least fifty percent over (in a 500+ page book) by the time his story line became enjoyable, and I think most of the reason for that was because he finally meets with Nahri. By the end though, I was quite fond of him. He experiences the most character development out of any of them.

The setting is imaginative and beautifully told. The lore and history are intricate and detailed and filled with Arabic mythology. I imagine Chakraborty had a book length prologue to accompany all of it and keep it all straight.

The plot is action filled, which is why it is so very difficult for me to say that overall- I was bored. There is no over arching plot arc. Nahri narrowly escapes death. Nahri learns where she comes from. Nahri travels to Daevabad. Nahri moves into the palace. Nahri learns to heal.... There was no end goal here. No definitive destination the plot was moving toward. In a mystery plot, the end goal is solving the mystery. In a romance, it's a HEA ending. In a fantasy, it's completing a quest, or defeating the enemy or saving the kingdom. Here- I'm sure there is one eventually, but you don't know what it is.

In the end, if I had to pick one of the above, I guess I'd go with romance. The case for this is thin because honestly, the two love interests seemed to just randomly be in love with each other after a couple months riding in the desert. I had no idea either character was even interested in the other romantically until it happened and then BAM. They are confessing they're undying love for each other. But I can't make a case for any other end goal so I guess that's it?

There were times the dialogue felt stiff and cliched, predictable even. The history in the book is so complex it becomes confusing. I can't tell you why the Geziri (I've probably spelled this wrong) and the Daeva tribes dislike each other. I can't tell you why the Qahtani's rebelled against the revered Nahid. (I mean I have a vague understanding, but it is very vague.)

In the end I think this book could have used some significant trimming, some clarification, and significantly less ambiguous plot structure. The characters and world building were great, but just not enough to carry the entire novel.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Voyager for providing an eARC for me to review.
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,202 followers
January 26, 2021
SO GOOD. I’m obsessed omg! It took me a while to grasp the world & names of things, but once I had a decent understanding the story took off. I was always waiting for some kind of twist because it’s just one of those stories where you know you’re not getting the whole picture, so I’m verrrry excited to get to book 2! Nahri and Dara and Ali...AHHHH :-)
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,522 followers
May 21, 2020
May 2020 edit: if you're going to read this for the first time, I recommend not doing it via audiobook, the narration is okay but the Arabic is butchered. So i know that if I didn't already know this story by heart, and love it so much, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.

I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.

Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders

Content Warnings: Death, blood, violence, assault, passing mention of rape.

Well. This book was a ride to say the least, a wild ride but a ride that took me forever and it’s not even the book’s fault. I was in the most awful slump while fighting my way through it but I luckily had the good sense to sort that slump out before diving back in, and more seriously this time around. And I LOVED IT. It is such a brilliant, powerful story and nothing like expected, it was different but somehow better.

The writing is good, like, really good, elegant while not too thick, which was needed considering how dense the worldbuilding is. It’s also atmospheric and sets the tone and vibe of the world the story is set in before the world is even fully unveiled. The descriptions are vivid which makes it a lot easier to imagine the setting and understand how everything is and where everything goes. I honestly loved the writing and how it complimented the story very well.

Now onto the worldbuilding. Don’t get me wrong, I adore it and all but I had a hard time grasping it the first chapters with all the creatures/tribes/families introduced in the span of a few chapters, I was confused a bit and had trouble keeping up, but the author doesn’t fail in reminding us who these people are throughout the story, and there’s also a glossary (is that what it’s called?) at the end which helped a lot as well. Once that confusion cleared, I adored it, it actually became one of my favorite things about the story.

The only question I have regarding the worldbuilding (the book really) is how The Gezziris have this history that isn’t really explained? Like, why are they the only people whose language can’t be spoken by anyone else? The only people whose weapon can’t be weilded by anyone else? I don’t know if it was done on purpose or not, but I hope it will have some kind of explanation in future books. That being said this was maybe 1% of the book so I didn’t mind much.

As a Muslim girl, I grew up with Jinn stories about Jinn warriors, Jinn wars, Jinn lovers and Jinn curses, most of which sent chills down my back and this did the same to me and that made me feel so nostalgic in a way? Although, it’s not exactly the same, the world was strangely familiar and completely different at the same time, which is understandable since the author took our cultural/religious stories added some well executed research and put a twist on them, and I need more of those because there’s so much potential in those stories and The City of Brass made me realize how much can be done with them.

This story is slow by definition. If you are looking for the fight focused, swords clashing kind of fantasy, this is not it. Eventhough there *are* great fight scenes, EPIC ones even, they’re not the main focus which I surprisingly liked. The City of Brass focuses on the politics and workings of the society, a lot of scheming and calculating and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the sides are and which one I was supposed to be on and THAT STRESSED ME OUT but I actually adored that aspect because it was the whole “two sides to the same story” concept, things weren’t just black and white, they were way more complicated.

Nahri is such a good solid character, she isn’t traditionally good or likeable, she’s a thief, she’s selfish and pragmatic, she does anything to get by because she has no family and has been living on the Streets for as long as she could remember. She has healer powers that she never understood the extent of and only used for her treachery, but then as the story unravels she realizes they’re bigger than her and by the end starts caring about something other than her own benefit. I loved how much she struggled with her powers, okay no, loving is a strong word but that struggle was the most realistic I’ve ever read, most of the novel, she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing and when she succeeds at it it’s pure luck.

Alizayd‘s POV I didn’t like but I suspect that was done on purpose because he is just such a judgmental, stern kid, and his voice is much of the same rambly preachy anger thing over and over again but I LOVED HIM. After a little while, things start getting better, he starts questioning things he’s always believed and he becomes completely and utterly lost and I. LOVED. THAT. One thing I appreciated about him is how he stands up for what he believes in no matter what, even in face of his father, who is the king, and not a nice one.

Dara doesn’t have his own POV but is as important as the other two in my opinion. He is my personal favorite. We virtually only know about him what people say, which are centuries old tales that do hold some truth but that I suspect hold a part of lies as well. He does let some bits and pieces out to Nahri but he’s mostly mysterious and garded, he’s also loyal to her and devoted to his nation and people. Dara and Ali are on opposite sides of an old conflict.

I was always on edge, kept on my toes by the blurry limits between both sides I didn’t know what to expect next, who I should trust and who was safe and who wasn’t and I WAS RIGHT, that ending turned very dark VERY fast and I am NOT OKAY with it. I need the second book A S A P.
Profile Image for Marzuqa.
63 reviews57 followers
January 25, 2021
I've always had a soft spot for middle east inspired stories. That this one came with fantasy and a historical setting was enough to entice me. This was an engaging tale taking place in a magical city of brass where we meet some endearing characters. Ali's POV was particularly an enjoyment to read. Although the plot was entrancing, I had some issues with the execution of some of the concepts. The parts that needed more elaboration were a bit rushed so you kind of lose track of the story and where all of it is actually headed. The writing wasn't amazingly catchy and was a bit heavy with descriptions.

But I loved that the story came with its surprises and unexpected turns, but I felt like I couldn't appreciate them fully because of not being able to indulge in the plot completely.

The sequels might surely delve into more detail, but at this point I can't be sure if I'm gonna read them. But I absolutely loved the characters and enjoyed escaping into a middle eastern world.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.5k followers
August 11, 2020
Sfdoiajhrsohfdraokufskjvf I DON'T KNOW HOW I FEEL. If I'm being honest, I found the first 3/4ths of this book to be.. just fine? Not bad, but nothing special. The ending was GREAT, but is that enough to rate this book higher? I don't know how I feel!!!!! I'm going with a 3.5 rounded up to 4 for now, but I reserve my right to change that as I mull it over further lol
155 reviews261 followers
March 16, 2018
*Gathers 1 kg of chocalate. Picks up two mugs of coffee. Snuggle in a blanket*


Behold the most dissapointing, the most boring, and the most..dissapointing (one time is not enough) book of my reading carrier. I had never thought that an own voice muslim fantasy novel with djinn politics and a theif as a protaganist could be this much underwhelming, but apparently, it is. This book felt like a 500 pages long prologue. And not the exciting one. There was nothing special here except rich world building and 500 pages of infuriating djinn politics were enough to make my head spun so I lost all the interest in world building around 60% and that's when I decided to skim the rest of the book and stop giving myself more torchure.

so here's how plot progressed
• oh god wow nahri is a genius and clever thief in Cairo who make fool of people.
• descriptions of how genius nahri is.
• nahri summoning an ancient djinn.
• description of djinn.
• description of djinn's hands.
• description of djinn's tattoos.
• escape from efrits and ghouls.
• nahri's and Dara's journey.
• description of desert, river, mountains, and Dara.
• visit of a peri (a wind being)
• description of peri
• description of tea made by peri
• Dara being broody.
• Dara and Nahri's out of now where romance.
• Dara being obnoxious and not telling Nahri anything.
• Dara and nahri smooching
• Some glimpse of Daevabad politics through Alizayd.
• Nahri reaching river near Daevabad
• Ghouls, efrit and Marid attacks.
• Enterance in Daevabad
• Description of each and everything in Daevabad.
• Shafiits (half humans half djinn) rebellion
• poor alizayd trying to quell the rebellion
• description pf palace.
• girl on girl hate
• Nahri being an idiot
• Alizayd trying to befriend Nahri
• Description of Nahri's cleverness
• failed escape
• certain things possesing a certain character who was remotely better then others
• certain remotely better character's dad being an idiot
•cruelest cliffhanger.

Aaaanddd that's about it. There is few action pacjed scenes here and there and rest is rubbish filled with unnecessary description, stupid romance, descriptions of stupid characters and just more stupidity. The only redeeming qualities were prince alizyd and the world building but even they could not make up for negatives. I didn't like nahri at all. She was so annoying and infuriating for most of the book. She's suppose to be this strong and clever woman, but really she keep on letting other people dictate her and then making stupid mistakes. I understand she's new to everything, but having lived all on her own in the streets of egypt, I expect her to use half of her brain while dealing with djinns but she kept on making one stupid decision after another. Dara is even more of an idiot then Nahri. He doesn't tell her anything even though he kept on telling her it was for her own good. I hate this I can't tell you, it's for your own good and that's exactly what Dara did throughout the book. And he can't even handle seeing her with someone else. what. a. pyschopath.

And the romance, where did the romance come from. Why the hell were Dara and Nahri attracted to eachother? There romance was only described by ..low fluttering in my stomach... and nothing more. No friendship no tension nothing, jusst kissing and kissing.

Prince Alizayd was the only redeeming character of this book. He follows islamic religion strictly and wants to have better lives for shafits. Tbh that's the first time I've read about a person following islam strictly and I loved this. He's this calm and hmble thing about him that make me lile instantly. And he's very realisticly potrayed; he have misconceptions about people but when he get to know about them, he started liking them. That was really relatable. Ali's characterization was really complex and I think he's going to get a brilliant arc in next book.

The real reason this is not one star is world building. I love court politics, and court politics of djinn are even better. There are various creatures in this world and each of them are deeply ingraved in this world of glamour and trickery. I loved the politics of Daevabad. It's so thoroughly developed. We have various sanctions of djinns trying to stay peaceful and failing miserbly. We have two characters who are new to court and are desperately trying to stay away from trouble and failing miserably. But the thing is, such complex world building cannot be enough without any unique plot and no good characterization. I needed more then this and sadly I wasn't satisfied. However I am still interested how this story goes so I'll be reading the next book for sure.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,564 reviews2,937 followers
February 17, 2021
*2021 update after rereading - Yep, this is still really good and makes you desperate to read the next straight away!*

This is one of the books I picked up as part of the BooktubeSFF Awards for 2018 as this is on the debut shortlist. I have to say I am very, very glad that I was able to get to this one because although it was on my radar already, this shortlisting made me get around to reading it a whole lot quicker and I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

This story starts off by following Nahir, a young girl who is able to heal herself instantly. She's a human who lives in Cairo, and she believes she was abandoned there and has no family. She's raised herself, and in order to survive she has to be blunt and wary and ready to con people.
Nahir doesn't actually believe in magic, despite the fact that many people she knows are avid believers, and the fact that she can heal. All her life she's known there is something different and strange about her, she's been ridiculed and hated for her skills, and she's only just got to the point where she's making enough to live off of and has a friend in the local apothecary.

Quickly we see Nahir's life transformed. She decides to engage in some of the more troublesome rituals that people pay handsomely for, and she ends up calling to a power far beyond her imagining. Nahir's world is shaken when she comes face to face with some ancient enemies of her family, and learns about a Djinn/Daeva who she has called to. Magic is quickly more than an imagining, and entering the world of the Daeva is dangerous and fascinating...

Alongside Nahir's story we also have Ali's story. Ali is a prince of the Daeva who is the second born and has trained all his life at the Citadel of Daevabad to serve his brother when he becomes King. Ali's right in the thick of Daeva culture, but he doesn't like what he sees and he feels that there is a distinct class division between 'pure' blood Daeva and Shaffit who are not pure blooded. The Shaffit are often looked down upon, beaten or mis-used, and he wants to help.

When the plot gets going we do see these two characters collide and of course their fates become entwined, but not before an awful lot of twists and turns. We learn a lot more about the magic of this world and we get to see how valuable Nahir is, and the magic potential she has to unlock.

What I most liked about this is that it's a different type of culture we're taking influence from, Eastern rather than Western, and focusing on a desert-based culture brought some great moments. I really loved the fact that although it's a longer read it feels very fast paced and easy to get into, and it's a really enjoyable one too.

The characters are both likeable and even when they annoy you by doing silly things, they have a reason and purpose for doing so. I definitely think that there's a lot to like about them and I do hope in future books to see more of their true talents shining through.

Overall, this was a book I was pleasantly surprised by and the only slight downside for me was the love-triangle situation which is a pet peeve for me. Luckily it doesn't overwhelm the story and it's a great read overall. 4.5*s
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,194 followers
Want to read
June 8, 2019
I've seen this book all over bookstagram, it;s crazy. Sounds interesting
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books469 followers
February 6, 2022
“Greatness takes time, Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”

So What’s It About?

Nahri scrapes by in 18th century Cairo, hiding her strange abilities and scavenging a living as a healer and con artist. But when a fake ceremony goes terribly wrong, she accidentally summons an ancient djinn and must come to accept that real magic exists – and that she is an important part of a strange, foreign world of spirits and myths. Together with the mysterious djinn Dara she will travel to the famed magical city of Daevabad and become embroiled in a dangerous scheme of ancient resentments boiling over. It will take all of her skill to survive Daevabad.

What I Thought

Well, the bad news is that I walked away from this book fairly nonplussed. The good news is that I can clearly and perfectly delineate between the parts of this book that worked for me and those that didn’t. Its principle strengths are, without a doubt its imagery and world-building. I can feel Chakraborty’s passion for creating a beautiful, complex, well-realized fantasy world, and Daevabad positively shines. I’ve seen some reviews stating that the book was too descriptive but I personally loved all of the descriptions and felt like she was entirely successful in creating a world suffused with beauty and detail.

In addition to lush descriptions and imagery, The City of Brass also features strong world-building. There are numerous key races and factions that all have their own complex histories, beliefs and rivalries that are successfully integrated into the story. The book is definitely highly concerned with the conflicts and prejudices that stem from tribalism and ancient rivalries, and for the most part I felt like Chakraborty had a good grasp on this topic. I’ve seen a lot of reviews complaining that the world-building was unnecessarily convoluted and was therefore really difficult to understand, but I personally did okay this time. I used the glossary in the back of the book and the guide on Chaktraborty’s website a few times and I was just fine for the most part. Charlotte? Understanding complex fantasy world-building? It’s likelier than you think!

If the world-building and imagery are this book’s successes, its failures begin with the plot. Simply put, it’s actually quite sparse. About half of the book is travel and info-dumping about the world, and the second half is mostly comprised of Nahri pouting about her opulent new life and Ali making terrible decisions. These last two points relate directly to my second large concern with The City of Brass – the characters are by and large extremely irritating. I totally get what she was going for with each character: Nahri is the savvy, plucky con artist with a heart of gold, Ali is the kind-hearted and naive young man trying to do the right thing but over his head in complex politics and Dara is the….well, he’s the broody hot guy with a dark past.

The unfortunate thing is that the characters are deeply, deeply frustrating more than anything else. Both Nahri and Ali make stupid, impulsive decision after stupid, impulsive decision until you lose almost all sympathy for them. Nahri whines about her privileged new life and flagrantly shirks her responsibilities as a healer while shafit die in the streets, and Ali gets manipulated by essentially every single person who talks to him. Dara just exists to hate-banter and have drama with Nahri and explain the world. I will say that when I first wrote this review, I had a whole angry section about all the insane shit he does at the end of the book, but now that I look back, my critique feels a little silly. I hated what he did, yes, but that doesn't mean that the book is worthy of critique because of it. Let's just say he has a lot of shit to work on in the next book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
417 reviews919 followers
June 14, 2023
At about the halfway point of this book, I would have rated it 3 stars. Then I read the second half and wanted to give it all the stars in the sky. Sooooo…. Let’s call it 4.5 stars all in all.

City of Brass is told by two narrators:

1. Nahri is a #girlboss grifter in 1800s Cairo who #girlbosses too close to the sun and accidentally summons a wrathful djinn. She finds out that she comes from a powerful bloodline and follows the djinn, Dara (a very interesting character), to Daevabad, the capital of the Daeva djinn.

2. Ali is my adorable sweetie perfect honey bear. He’s a djinn prince who was raised as a warrior and became a devout Muslim (despite his family’s pretty clear rejection of Islamic values). He’s awkward and nerdy but also strong and disciplined in a way not many characters in the book truly respect. I love him, he is my son, and if anything bad happens to him I will be driven to murder.

The first 50% reads like an introduction to the world, setting up the different djinn factions and the characters’ pasts. I’m not huge on endless worldbuilding if it’s not naturally mixed in with fast-paced plot, so I was bored more than once.

Then at around the halfway mark, Ali and Nahri meet and begin a tentative friendship. (They are so cute I could just eat them up!!) We get to see the same people and events from their very different viewpoints, which was so so cool. And the action really picks up from there.

The plot constantly kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had my finger on what type of story I was reading, I’d get thrown for a loop again. This was seriously SO fun, I devoured like 250 pages of it within like 2 hours.

As for the ending, ⚠️ CLIFFHANGER WARNING ⚠️
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