The City of Brass

The City of Brass

A Novel

Book - 2017
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It is the spellbinding debut 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.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper Voyageur, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2017]
ISBN: 9780062678102
Branch Call Number: CHAKR
Characteristics: 532 pages

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bwrogers
Sep 18, 2018

I'll admit that I picked this up off the shelves purely on a whim. I had less than zero expectations, as so much fantasy is unfortunately just the same genre elements repeated with different goofy names. City of Brass couldn't have surprised me any more. Chakraborty's prose is rich and her characters have developed, unique perspectives and narrative arcs. Her myth-making is also excellent; it's incredibly rare to find a complex religious system in a fantasy novel that actually feels like a religion: discordant, contested, deeply felt. Thank goodness there's a sequel on the way as this incredibly setting cries out for more stories and Chakraborty seems sure to provide them.

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danielestes
Aug 27, 2018

The City of Brass, which is volume 1 of The Daevabad Trilogy, is like Aladdin meets Casablanca meets Indiana Jones. I'm probably leaving out another comparable work but you get the idea.

The overall narrative consists of two stories that come together into one. First, there's Nahri, the Cairo-based young women who's barely getting by. She's also... odd. Odd as in there's something different about her. Second, there's the story of Ali, or Alizayd, the second son of the King of the mysterious city of Daevabad. And in the middle of it all is this enigmatic djinn (think: a kind of genie) named Dara, whose past is as shrouded in mystery as the others, if not more.

Like many popular fantasy-esque books, in City of Brass there are rules of magic to learn and a political/geographical landscape to navigate in order for the climax to have its intended impact. S. A Chakraborty, in her debut work, makes this journey seem straightforward and effortless.

PimaLib_ChristineR Aug 25, 2018

Once Nahri's story became as interesting as Ali's the story really got going. Dara is a Daeva (Djinn) that appears to Nahri after she does one of her "fake" ceremonies in Cairo. When the girl she is supposed to be helping tries to kill her, Dara tells Nahri that she will be chased to the ends of the earth by these creatures and she will only be safe in Daevabad, a special city visible only to the Djinn. Okay, so that all seems straightforward. And I love how Chakraborty wrote this, because obviously we've got magic going on and giant bird people popping in and possessed corpses, so Dara seems to fit right into this scenario. It is only as Nahri becomes part of the political life of Daevabad that it becomes clear that Dara has not told her the truth, and he may not even know the truth about himself. I found this part of the story to be so interesting because none of it is exposition; everything is people around him discovering things about Dara's powers, or noticing that he has abilities which he should not.

Chakraborty does a nice job of dealing with racism, religious extremism, etc... Both Dara and Ali have their own long-ingrained biases, and we are shown how they truly affect the people with whom they interact. It was especially important in the relationship between Dara and Nahri, where they seem to be building a relationship, but Dara's unthinking bias against the Shafit (part human, part djinn) hurts her time and again. And Ali's religious beliefs keep him from seeing the most obvious things about his family.

In all, not only are the characters wonderful and sometimes mysterious, but so many parallels can be drawn to politics from the local to the international, without the story beating the reader over the head with morals.

The City of Brass didn't suck me in...at first. Chakraborty added a lot of backstory for Nahri that I think could have been added later as flashback, or left out entirely and readers could have figured out about her previous life in Cairo. I would have loved these early chapters to focus more closely on Ali and the politics of Daevabad, because it is so convoluted that even with explanation it is sometimes difficult to keep straight and understand who is allied to whom and why. There were also moments that actions and motivations didn't make sense to me, but it wasn't enough to make me not want to find out what happens. Chakraborty is a strong new voice in YA Fantasy (are we all calling that "Speculative Fiction" now?) that will likely get stronger with each new novel.

OPL_AmyW Aug 24, 2018

The City of Brass is an enjoyable, romantic-fantasy debut by S.A. Chakraborty. The author has created an intriguing new world based primarily on a number of Middle Eastern cultures. Interestingly enough, although I am a fan of romance, I found myself looking forward to the chapters from the prince's point of view which focused more on political intrigue and the culture of the Djinn. The chapters focusing on the female-protaganist Nahri felt a bit plodding and repetitive. There was not enough action or true character development to really pull me into her story until near the end of the book. It also took me awhile to get used to the different names which were used to describe each Daevabad official and culture. However, once I read to the second half of the book, I was hooked and look forward to reading more in the series.

i
Ifrit
Aug 13, 2018

S.A. Chakraburty - You had me at the djinn. A race called "The Hidden?" Yesssssss.

d
dashing2
Aug 13, 2018

An engaging adult cartoon in writing. It entails slavery, genocide, love, and war. I will read the sequel if I remember to. It will not be out until January of 2019, I believe.

So I tried reading this, but I could not figure out what was going on. I found it so confusing, and maybe thats just because of the religion stuff included, I to many different names for the Djinn. I have no idea, I just could not keep up with the terminology. Because of the confusion it just could not hold my attention.

JessicaGma May 30, 2018

Beautiful world-building and a very compelling story. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it and I was sucked in by the tale of Dara, Nahri and the other Devas (or djinn, I found the nuance confusing...). I hope this is a series because I need to know what else happens to the characters.

MegH_OshLib May 25, 2018

When it comes to fantasy novels one of the first things I pay attention to is the atmosphere and the world building, if that's not meshing with me or if I am not getting a sense of magic and wonder then I know I'm not truly going to enjoy my time reading. If a book isn't drawing me into the world it tends to be a bit more forgettable, but 'The City of Brass' had no problem whatsoever in terms grabbing and pulling me into its pages. I think this book now has one of my top favourite settings, Daevabad is an incredible city!

The characters are so very intriguing, it all feels rich with history and the fact that there are these two very different sides to the same story coming into play is so true to life and relatable that it's easy to develop your own opinion and stance along with these characters.

I can't wait for more!

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.

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bex_darkartist
May 31, 2018

bex_darkartist thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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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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