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 I thoroughly enjoyed this. It just SO well written. It’s incredibly evocative and I felt like I was there with the character every step of the way.
Nahri is definitely intriguing – I loved her development and I’m looking forward to getting to see her do more in book two. I also like that while she’s a thief and con artist, it’s actually her savvyness that helps the most. I like her friendship with Ali too. Her relationship with Dara felt less… good, I guess? Partially because he’s a possessive little so and so, with his head still stuck in the war, but also it was a little all over the place. Honestly though, that’s my only complaint.
Ali is also a great narrator – I loved getting to see his take on things. Especially in that he seems to have several warring priorities – his family, his religion, and his status as a warrior. Plus being djinn and against the fire worshippers. It really highlights that politics is never simple in an elegant manner.
The world building is insanely good – you get a decent grasp on “our” world through Nahri, and still get this amazing and full fantasy world. I love the whole history and wars and politics we get without it feeling like it’s shoved down our necks.
I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel – I want to see more of the politics play out, especially now Nahri is where she is. I want to see her take on her heritage a little more too – I liked her advancement with healing, and want to see that progress. I’m also not sure what the ending means for several characters, and I’m definitely keen to find out!
Amazing story, 4.5 stars.
Buy City of Brass from Amazon UK (affiliate link)