City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

“Greatness takes time, Banu Nahida. Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings.”

I will start off by saying I am a true lover of fantasy, and while I like the medieval England-ish trope as much as the next person, it I does get tiresome. When I discover a well-written fantasy based in a culture not my own I get very excited. City of Brass (the first title in The Daevabad Trilogy) did not disappoint.

The story starts out with Nahri (our female protagonist) a con woman extraordinaire in Cairo. She has an unusual talent of sensing illness, which she uses to her advantage as a ‘healer.’ Her greatest dream is to go to school to be a real physician.

While holding a Zar, a sort of exorcism, Nahri gets more than she bargained for. Suddenly she is thrust into the world of the djinn. She is attacked by an ifrit, a fallen djinn, and rescued by Dara, a daeva, or fire elemental.

As Nahri and Dara get to know one another, Nahri finds out that she is at least part Nahid, a thought to be extinct class of daevas known for healing. Dara convinces Nahri to travel with him to the city of Daevabad.

About the first half of the book is about Nahri’s and Dara’s travel to Daevabad. This is not a boring road trip, however. They travel on a flying carpet and encounter and battle many mythological beasties.

After arriving in Daevabad, they discover the city is rife with problems: a tyrannical ruler and long simmering political and racial issues.

I found the pacing to be great, the world building to be fantastic, and the author is a master of showing and not telling. The characters are well-developed and sympathetic. I felt for all of them, even when they were in conflict with one another.

I finished City of Brass in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I started the second book in the trilogy, Kingdom of Copper, almost as soon as I woke up Saturday. I am having a hard time putting down Kingdom of Copper, just as I did with City of Brass, and I can’t wait to see what the final book in the trilogy, Empire of Gold, brings.

Overall, I rate The City of Brass 4.5/5 stars.

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