4 stars · book review

book review: the City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads review

Well. Hot damn. This was a good read despite the fact that I first picked it up without knowing anything about it.

I will admit the politics were hard to follow and if I were not told that the back of this book had a glossary, I’d have resulted in drawing a political dynamic chart for myself to keep track of this shit. But I like figuring this stuff out and piecing things together, so I appreciate that the intrigue wasn’t spoon-fed to me. Would I have liked some more clues? Yeah, but I never felt like the random comments/info-bites about the different tribes of Daevabad and their religions were straight-up useless/a waste of space.

Things I appreciated
– A complex evil daddy character. After reading Children of Blood and Bone I was so fucking disappointed with evil king characters. I’m glad Chakraborty gave Ghassan so many layers.

– I mean I still like Dara despite knowing the shit he did. Every chapter I was just waiting for him to trash talk someone. I WAS HERE FOR IT. I’m fucking biased. I admitted I had a crush on Dara because I love tragic backstories. Yeah.

– I LOVED how Chakraborty developed the sibling relationships between Ali and Dhiru and Zaynab

– The complexity of the political scape and the dynamics of all the tribes.

– Character traits that actually mattered in the grand scheme of things! Yeah, Ali had good intentions, but he still got screwed over! Yeah Nahri is distrustful of everyone and that is second nature to her and Dara calls her out on it when it came to matters that needed her to speak from the heart. I can’t believe I’m complaining about how in other books, basic things like writing character traits is done poorly, but Chakraborty avoided it by having the character traits matter and have consequences.

– The oppressed people aren’t all flawless, innocent lambs. And I feel like it’s realistic to get information of them from sources that aren’t 100% reliable wrt the Daeva tribe and shafit. I really liked how we get different perspectives of different groups FROM different groups. Yes, it painted a sometimes conflicting picture of each group, BUT this makes sense because they all have some agenda/bias/prejudice to put forward.

– There was a scene where Dara was straight up chilling with Muntadhir and having a drink and then Ali comes to find his brother like that gif of Donald Glover going into a flaming room with a pizza.

Things I didn’t appreciate
– Ok, probably unpopular opinion. Ali drove my nuts. I read one review that said he had tofu for brains. Girllll I agree. He’s so naive! He’s not a bad character by any means. I thought he was well-written. Subjectively speaking, I don’t tend to like characters that drank some kool-aid. Then again, everyone’s drunk a lil’ bit of kool-aid.

– The book skips showing us some of the actions of characters in between chapters. Not a big deal, there were just somethings I would have LOVED to see rather than be told were things that happened.

– So like… where did the romance between Dara and Nahri come from? Open the map and show me. I liked some of the developments after those feelings snapped into place, but some of the events that occured felt like drama to split them apart so we can feel satisfied for when they eventually comeback together. (I hope… Dara ain’t ded to me)

– It took forever for Nahri and Dara to stop wandering in the desert.

– I did kind of skim through the descriptions. In my mind I imagined some version of Generalife + Alhambra to fill in the gaps.

– I thought Nahri was the weakest link out of the main 3 (her, Ali, Dara). Of course, I get it given the reveal at the end. It would be problematic if she actually had a backstory that wasn’t orphan-turned-swindler if you take that into consideration. There needed to be a layer mystery to her origin. In comparison to the info we get about Ali and Dara’s backstories, Nahri was lackluster. It felt like she was just along for the ride even though she’s the last living Nahid. I think this’ll be remedied in the following books (please), so it’s a little to early to say.

– I have to wait a long ass time for the next book. But no rush if the wait means the story’s gonna be extra juicy in the end.


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