Book Review: THE CITY OF BRASS by S. A. Chakraborty

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Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Yes - first book of trilogy


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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 . . . 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This book was amazing. I am so glad I picked it up, and can’t wait for the sequel, THE KINGDOM OF COPPER.

The world was so intricate, with such a complicated set up between the different tribes. I loved it because of how deftly Chakroborty handled the politics that arose from this premise. The scheming was so much fun, and Nahri is a dab hand at conning too, even if it takes her a while to be confident enough to do it.

Even though it’s a world running parallel to ours, it felt a wholly separate one – hence it being tagged as both. Daevabad, and the other djinn cities, sit in our world (albeit early 1800s) but shielded from human sight. The magic was diverse – from elemental magic to bizarre, fire-salamander illnesses. I would love to live there – if I weren’t human.

The world, and story, was richly painted with lush writing. Chakraborty has a way with words, particularly colour descriptions. It simply added to the mystical feel of the world.

Nahri’s perspective was great fun to read, her scheming mind and defiance lighting up the page. I loved her penchant for stealing things and seeing people as marks even though her heart’s telling her otherwise…

However, it was Ali – the other POV character – who was my favourite. A fiery-sword-wielding accountant-at-heart soldier? His heart was in the right place, with firm morals, but torn between his family (particularly his brother) and what was right. Not to mention his terror of his father. I loved the dynamic between Ali and his brother – fierce, loving and looking out for one another -, which makes their final scene heart-breaking. It also didn’t hurt that we saw most of the politics through his eyes.

Dara was a little frustrating – a warrior-brute who thought he knew best. I’m not sure what Nahri saw in him (she’s much better suited to Ali), and I’m glad for the fate handed to him. I really hope the epilogue’s promise doesn’t come true – or that she realises he’s not for her.

The plot was great, hooking me in from the first page. I could never quite predict what was going to happen next, and I was on the edge of my seat. There were so many factors pulled in to hurtle it along to the ending. And that ending was… brutal. Sabaa Tahir level brutal. The stakes it sets up for the next book are terrifying and I really hope Ali and Nahri survive THE KINGDOM OF COPPER.

Read my reviews of other books by S. A. Chakrabory:

The Daevabad Trilogy (this series):


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