The City of Brass

The City of Brass

Book - 2017
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"Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty--an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts. Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-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 and a reliable way to survive. But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she's forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary 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 birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass--a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. A young prince dreams of rebellion. 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 to be careful what you wish for"--
Publisher: New York, New York :, Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, 2017
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062678102
Characteristics: 532 pages : map ; 24 cm


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JCLChrisK Apr 10, 2018

An engaging story with an intriguing setting: 18th-century central Asia, a hidden city of magical djinn from across Asia and Africa, a collection of cultures and languages with a long history of conflicts and shifting alliances. Nahri, who has spent all of her young life as a human in Cairo, finds herself unexpectedly drawn into the city as a key player. Struggling to understand her place in the midst of intrigue and struggles for power, reliant on an ancient hero and befriended by a royal prince, she must figure out who she is in this strange world. It's a complex world full of complicated characters and relationships, conveyed with deft writing and style. I'm ready for the next installment.

forbesrachel Jan 01, 2018

The City of Brass is a delicious debut that deviates from many of the common Fantasy stereotypes. First off, it is set in an alternate historical Middle East, and revolves around a young woman of Egyptian descent, and a young warrior djinn of faith. Chakraborty makes Nahri's and Ali's world feel like it sits somewhere between reality, and the mythical version we hear about in stories. Fantastical elements, even in the few instances where they are used in abundance, always feel grounded by the well-established characters, the historical-feeling setting, and the many issues and perspectives that are of concern in this melting pot. At the book's heart are matters of equality, justice, and rule. Both Nahri and Ali in particular are deeply driven by the idea of right and wrong, while others, such as Nahri's romantic interest, the daeva Dara, and Ali's father, the ruler of Daevabad, are set in their resolve. This is one of the things that makes this novel so interesting; it discusses the moral implications of actions versus the practical. Still, even with so much to sate are minds, it is the characters that we keenly follow. Their story will not go the way that you expect, and that is one of the other ways that makes this book different from many Fantasy. Each twist is thrilling because it affects the characters in profound ways. We'll only find out the results of the last set of twists in the next book, but at least we aren't left wondering. Chakraborty leaves us with a very satisfying conclusion to a wonderfully written, fully fleshed out story. This is one that will appeal to both teens and adults because the type of writing fits snugly in both spheres.

Dec 07, 2017

I want more of this, and I want it now.

Plot: In 18th century Cairo, Nahri was an orphan con-woman with a knack for healing. One day, she unknowingly unleashed a long-forgotten djinn and forged on a journey to rediscover her past and serve her people.

And I loved every minute of Nahri's journey with Dara and how complex the djinn rivalries were. The City of Brass was told from the perspective of both Nahri and Ali, the prince to the current djinn royalty, so we got to see both sides of the story and understand why each side might see the other as the "enemy". There was a lot of cat-and-mouse play and new discoveries by the chapter, but I was intimidated in the beginning. There was a lot of djinn terminology that I didn't understand and I'm still a bit confused with the complex relationships between with djinn tribe, and I'm sure I'll have to give this one a reread before the sequel is released. And can we talk about that ending? The City of Brass had one of the most intense-showdowns I've read in a while and the cliffhanger was just cruel.

Characters: Nahri was just as you would expect: she was stubborn and wasn't afraid to speak her mind. I especially loved how she handled herself when presented with vipers wanting to see her fail. Dara, the mysterious djinn warrior, had a questionable past, and I think was the love interest? I'm unsure; while the romance was hinted at, it was nowhere near a focal point of the City of Brass. Ali, the second prince of the current royal family, was also a contender. Regardless of who romanced who, they were each interesting characters that I wanted to get to know more.

Worldbuilding: The amount of detail that went into The City of Brass was astounding, and I'm thankful for the glossary that Chakraborty included at the end; I highly recommend that readers utilize it since there was a lot of information to digest. I mentioned that it was overwhelming for me, but I wholly appreciate the amount of detail that the author poured into the City of Brass.

Short N Sweet: The City of Brass is imaginative and addictive; you'll want to pre-order the sequel as soon as you finish!

Dec 05, 2017

The general premise is typical of YA/NA fantasy books (young woman in difficult circumstances discovers her special talents and mysterious origins and is the only one who can save the day/overthrow the bad guys) but Chakraborty makes it feel new with the story of the djinn. The characters were well developed and I enjoyed going from 18th century Cairo to the magical Daevabad - both settings richly described and believable.

SPL_Brittany Nov 27, 2017

A full review can be found in the Summary section. Review first published in the Stratford Gazette November 2017.


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SPL_Brittany Nov 27, 2017

To survive in 18th century Cairo, Nahri a young con artist, survives by performing minor cons, healings and a little theft. She knows nothing of her heritage or family, only that she can heal remarkably fast and understand any language. Nahri's life is upended when she accidentally summons Dara, a handsome djinn warrior in one of her healing cons who in turn, saves her from murderous Ifrit and demon spirits who have become aware of Nahri and her healing abilities. They flee towards Daevabad, Dara's homeland the legendary City of Brass, where Nahri must claim her magical birthright in order to prevent a war that threatens to destroy the entire djinn kingdom.

Meanwhile in Daevabad, Ali, the second son of the ruler of Daevabad has his own struggles. A deft warrior and devout follower of the faith, he sympathizes with the Shafits - a mixed race who are part djinn, part human who are restricted to living in the city, and suffer ill treatment at the hands of his father. When a mission to help the Shafit goes awry, Ali is placed in a situation that will test his loyalties between the crown and the Shafit cause.

Debut author Chakraborty writes an engrossing, fast-paced novel filled with richly detailed images and vivid prose. Written in a dual narrative, Chakraborty weaves a fascinating tale of speculative fiction that offers to the curious reader a glimpse into Middle Eastern mythology and djinn lore. The first novel in a trilogy, perfect for those who enjoy historical fiction with a blend of fantasy, as well as for readers who have previously enjoyed Helene Weckers’ novel "Golem and the Jinni".

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