Some books come to you at the wrong moments. They don’t speak to you. They don’t convey their message. You just don’t vibe well together. And then you spend some time living your life, find yourself picking up the same book, and realizing that you were completely wrong. That’s basically what happens here with me.
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…
This isn’t going to be a long review just because I’ve read the book before and already written a review for it in the past. But this book truly swept me away so much more in the second read than in the first.
I was rereading my thoughts on the book from back in 2018 and I honestly didn’t like it. I gave it four stars, but I distinctly remember wanting to give it three stars. I’m literally reading my own review and disagreeing with nearly everything I said.
I mentioned that the world was confusing. It’s not. In fact, it’s one of the more clearly outlined worlds. I would say it borders on an info dump since most of the world is told over a fire and stories in one night, but I did really love the way that SA Chakraoborty portrayed it. It reminds me of a scene in a movie with its characters coming to life in the smoke of the fire. There was definitely a level of romance to the way she writes her books, which I’m so happy about.
I did mention that Nahri was my favorite character, but I also loved Dara and Ali. Each of these characters were so well-realized and different from each other. They had their faults, but they also had passion for their beliefs which made it just so more fun! I also loved how casual the conversations they all had. I think one of my favorite parts of this book is that it was such an easy read. I found myself flying through the pages and being lost in the Daevabad world. It was so well described, the conversations were interesting and matched the situations they were in, and you truly felt like you were a part of this story.
I was completely off base about the power struggle. Yes, there’s power struggle in this book, but it is way more complicated than I imagined. One part, it’s about the freedoms of the shafit (half-human djinn) and how they’re treated as second-class citizens. Even though the world has rid of the family that enslaved these folks, they didn’t fully pull them from their poverty. It’s obvious that they still don’t have the same rights as pureblooded daevas. The world was also at one point strife with war. Families fighting other families not necessarily over power, but over beliefs and accepting one belief over another. I think the younger version of myself didn’t really understand the implications of this world and how complex the political dynamics were.
The one thing I did truly love was the ending and that was the same feeling I had back when I first read it. The last fifty pages was so surprising and so twisty that it will definitely make you want to pick up book 2 right away. I totally feel that and I can’t wait to read it soon!