My most anticipated book of 2021 was the final part of the Daevabad trilogy, The Empire of Gold. Having been in a bit of a rut before this arrived, I was relieved and delighted by how quickly I was pulled into this wonderful story full of romance, suspense, betrayals, revelations and Arabian mythology.
Set almost immediately after the end of The Kingdom of Copper (reviewed here), the narrative switches between the three protagonists Nahri, Ali and Dara. When Nahri and Ali fled Daevabad, they find themselves transported to Cairo, while Dara has helped Nahri’s long presumed dead mother, Manizheh, to slaughter her enemies (including Ali’s family) and reclaim her throne. The stakes couldn’t be higher as Manizheh turns out to be every bit as ruthless and tyrranical as the King she replaced, forcing Dara into slavery again, and Nahri and Ali to ally with their enemies.
I’ve loved watching these characters evolve and The Empire of Gold is full of bargains, sacrificies and betrayals as the protagonists fight to save the city they all love. Nahri has always been a firm favourite, growing from a con-artist and thief who only dreamed of practicing as a physician to a gifted healer and surgeon, and a brave, compassionate leader, and it was so satisfying to finally learn her identity and parentage. Ali has changed from the idealistic and self-righteous Prince to a self-sacrificing warrior and wise leader. Finally the redemption of Dara, the most loyal warrior of Manizheh and her people who committed unforgivable attrocities in their name, was genuinely moving.
The Empire of Gold was such a bittersweet read in that I’ve fallen in love with these characters and their world, and I was desperate to know how it all ends, but didn’t want to be over either, The Daevabad trilogy has become one of my favourite fantasy series and one I’ll definitely reread. The Empire of Gold is about destruction and healing, love, friendship and family, loyalty and slavery, revenge, sacrifice and redemption, and it’s an incredibly satisfying conclusion to a brilliant trilogy. Have a lovely week. X
The City of Brass (reviewed here) was the best book I read last year, and I loved slipping back into this world inspired by Arabian mythology in The Kingdom of Copper.
Set five years after the first book, Nahri has been forced to marry King Ghassan’s eldest son, Muntadhir, while Prince Ali has been exiled, and Dara has been freed from Ifrit enthrallment by Nahri’s mother, Manizheh.
Generations and tribes clash in a conflict that pits husbands against wives, parents against children, and siblings against each other. Ali is caught between his scheming relatives, as much as Nahri is caught between the rival factions of daeva and djinn. Nahri and Ali try to ease tensions between their rival tribes and improve conditions for the persecuted half-human shafit, while their parents’ generation seek vengeance, power and control over the city of Daevabad.
Despite the fantasy setting, this story explores universal themes of love, loyalty, family, idealism and fanaticism, prejudice and revenge, and I’m so looking forward to finding out how the story resolves in the final part of this trilogy. Have a lovely week. X
The story begins in Cairo where a young woman called Nahri is working as a thief and con-artist, though she dreams of becoming a physician. During a ceremony to exorcise a demon possessing a young girl, she accidentally summons a warrior Djinn (or rather a Daeva) called Dara, and is pulled into a world of flying carpets, mythical beasts and simmering tensions between the different races of Ifrit, Djinn, Daeva and half-human Shafit. One of the things I loved most about The City of Brass was that it drew from Arabian folklore and mythology which was such a refreshing contrast to the countless medieval European inspired fantasy stories that dominate the genre.
The narrative switches between two perspectives, Nahri, and Ali, a Djinn Prince in the city of Daevabad. The three main characters, Nahri, Dara and Ali are all flawed and victims of circumstance in their own way: Independent and used to fending for herself, Nahri finds herself caught between feuding factions all plotting her future with little consideration for what she wants; Dara was enslaved by the Ifrit to serve human masters and is weighed down by the guilt and shame of all the lives he’s taken and the things he did while enthralled; while Ali – as the second son of King Ghassan – has been trained as a warrior, when he longs to become a scholar and end the injustice and hypocrisy he witnesses.
The City of Brass is probably the best book I’ve read this year, though it’s not perfect as there are some pacing issues and a few slightly predictable twists, but I was still captivated by this tense, political and character-driven drama as Nahri and Ali discover just how ruthless King Ghassan is and how far he has gone to hold on to his throne and maintain order in the city of Daevabad. This is the first book in The Daevabad Trilogy and I’m looking forward to finding what happens next. Have a lovely week. X