The City of Brass

The City of Brass

Book - 2017 | First edition
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"A brilliantly imagined historical fantasy in which a young con artist in eighteenth century Cairo discovers she's the last descendant of a powerful family of djinn healers. With the help of an outcast immortal warrior and a rebellious prince, she must claim her magical birthright in order to prevent a war that threatens to destroy the entire djinn kingdom. Perfect for fans of The grace of kings, The golem and the Jinni, and The queen of the Tearling"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062690951
Branch Call Number: FIC Chakr
Characteristics: 532 pages : map ; 23 cm


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CCPL_Laura Jan 11, 2020

Hands down one of my favorite fantasies ever! SA Chakraborty is an author to watch. The City of Brass is a unique, layered, richly detailed fantasy. The characters provide ample moments of humor in the midst of heart-pounding adventure. The political complications throughout the novel – from the variety of djinn races, to the fascinating mythological creatures, to cultural and historical clashes – only heighten the emotional intensity between Nahri and her djinn warrior Dara. Avid readers of historical fantasy from Juliet Marillier, Katherine Arden, and Naomi Novik will enjoy this Middle Eastern debut, inspired by one of the stories from 1001 Nights.

Aug 23, 2019

A great book, a very refreshing change from the usual Western European fantasy settings.

Mar 05, 2019

This was my favorite book of 2017 and really 2018 too. And I read constantly. The protagonist/antagonist dynamic is in constant flux. The world building is on par with Sanderson. Each character feels real and acts with understandable motives. I never felt like things were being dumbed down. So many “popular” books I read this year featured the author beating you over the head with the message and repeating character traits as though you might have forgotten from the last 50 times it was mentioned that some character is “shady”, a “drunk” or whatever single adjective sums up these cardboard cutouts. Not this book, these people have problems, hopes and dreams. They struggle with their own desires and external pressures. As stated this is massive world building with different locations, tribes, timelines, it might seem complicated at first, but it’s worth it in the end and you might be like me and deliberately slow your reading to a crawl for the last few pages because you don’t want it to end.

infinite_tbr Jan 11, 2019

From the first paragraph, I knew I was going to like this book. City of Brass weaves together fantasy and history in 18th Century Cairo. Nahri is a charlatan and thief, surviving as a fortune-teller and con-artist on the streets of Cairo. She dreams of using her near-magic (spoiler: it is magic) healing abilities as a trained physician. While leading a zar (think exorcism), she accidentally summons a djinn, Dara, and finds herself forcibly whisked away from Cairo, pursued by bloodthirsty ifrit. The end goal? Reach Daevabad, the city of the djinn. Meanwhile in Daevabad, we’re getting to see what’s happening among the various djinn tribes through the eyes of Prince Alizayd al Qahtani (Ali).

I loved every second of this book. Nahri is wonderful and flawed and full of life. Dara is mysterious and dark and fierce. Ali is conflicted and determined and a bit of a zealot. These three characters help bring together the rich Mythos Chakraborty created in Daevabad with the different djinn tribes, the other magical races (peris, marids, ifrit), and the history based in tales of Suleiman the Magnificent. The plot itself turns from a race to the city to a political drama where everyone has secrets and some ulterior motive. Nahri, stuck at the center, is a savvy survivor but knows little of the world of magic she has entered. There is not a dull moment in this book!

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.

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 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.

Aug 13, 2018

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

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.

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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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