The City of Brass
By: S.A. Chakraborty
Nahri is a con-artist trying to get by and dreaming of one day being accepted to train as a Doctor. She’s got a head for language and no idea where she came from- so imagine her surprise when she accidentally calls up a legendary warrior djinn. At least he might have some idea of who she is. Unfortunately so does the Ifrit but they seem to want her dead.
I always put a lot of (unfair) stock by the first read of the year. Luckily this one more than holds up.
Nahri and Dara make their way to the City of Brass where Prince Ali (our other point-of-view) is trying to balance loyalty to his family with that to the poor people of the city. A race of half breeds treated very, very unfairly. There’s a lot of politics. A lot of history. It’s a city that’s basically defining the term powder keg and Nahri and Dara’s arrival only increases the tension.
This book is beautifully written. It’s very immersive. It made me think in many ways of Strange the Dreamer and Laini Taylor’s writing where the characters are building slowly, the history of the setting, with the political and familial stuff I could also see some shades of Game of Thrones. Basically this book is just going for it and I think it generally succeeds.
Although on the other hand there were times when I felt like it was dragging and could have been shorter it’s one of those that I’m not entirely sure where I’d cut either. Maybe some of Ali’s back and forth. I think his sister was not that interesting, yet. This is a series after all. I really liked Nahri’s character. She’s smart and generally does the best she can under hard circumstances although there are times she feels a bit stifled in the city. I think that’s the point.
Ali was an interesting character as well. You can really feel the pull between family and right- and surprisingly the author does a good job of not painting his family as totally horrible people so as I believed the pull on his loyalties. I’m rooting for Ali and Nahri and looking forward to following their story.
The City of Brass is a long and slow-burn kind of book but when the action does breakout it does so with real stakes not just for the characters but for the city and because of the work put into the buildup, you feel every bit of it.
Recommend: Yes. It maybe could have been trimmed in places but overall it’s a strong start to a new series!