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Among the bustling markets of eighteenth century Cairo, the city’s outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.
But alongside this new world the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.
Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there’s nothing magical about them. She only wishes to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes…
Be careful what you wish for.
521 pages, Kindle Edition
First published November 14, 2017
Revolutionary tensions are on the rise, palace intrigues as well, as trust is something one could only wish for. One key question is where Nahri really came from, who is she, really? It matters. And what happened to the ancient tribe that was chosen by Suleiman himself to rule, way back when.
S.A. Chakraborty - image from her site
It actually started not as a novel, but as sort of a passion project/exercise in world-building that I never intended to show a soul! I’m a big history buff and with The City of Brass I wanted to recreate some of the stunning worlds I’d read about while also exploring traditional beliefs about djinn. A bit contrary to Western lore, djinn are said to be intelligent beings similar to humans, created from smokeless fire and living unseen in our midst—a fascinating, albeit slightly frightening concept, this idea of creatures living silently among us, dispassionately watching the rise and fall of our various civilizations. - from the Twinning for Books interview
there’s a djinn version of Baghdad’s great library, filled with the ancient books humans have lost alongside powerful texts of magic; they battle with weapons from Achaemenid Persia (enhanced by fire of course); the medical traditions of famed scholars like Ibn Sina have been adapted to treat magical maladies; dancers conjure flowers while singing Mughal love songs; a court system based on the Zanzibar Sultanate deals justice to merchants who bewitch their competitors… not to mention a cityscape featuring everything from ziggurats and pyramids to minarets and stupas. - from the Twinning for Books interviewThere are a lot of names to remember, words to learn, tribes to keep straight, and allegiances to keep track of. I found myself wishing there was a list somewhere that helped keep it all straight, and “Poof!” there it appeared at the back of the book, a glossary, rich with useful information. It could have been a bit larger though. I would have liked for it to include a list of the djinn tribes, with information about each, their geographical bases, proclivities, languages, you know, stuff. The information can be found in the book itself, but it would have been nice to have had a handy short reference.
🌹 THE WRITING... AKA “A STRAW IS MORE INTERESTING THAN THIS”
🌷 PLOT & CHARACTERS, WHICH WERE, SURPRISE, BORING
🌹 WORLDBUILDING (OR AS I LIKE TO CALL IT, CONFUSED NICK YOUNG)
🌷 THE ONLY PROS
• ownvoices Muslim rep!!! in fantasy!!!! which is so so important!!!! (I can’t comment on the rep so I recommend you read May’s ownvoices review!)
• beautiful brown characters!!
• it is set in the Middle East!!
• a hijabi is on the cover!!
• okay that’s it
// failed buddy read with the
favfake & oldie & pretty p*ni
“You won’t be able to continue like this, Alizayd,” he warned. “To keep walking a path between loyalty to your family and loyalty to what you know is right. … Because on the day of your judgment, Alizayd … when you’re asked why you didn’t stand up for what you knew was just …” He paused, his next words finding Ali’s heart like an arrow. “Loyalty to your family won’t excuse you.”It’s a conflict-driven plot, with both physical violence and subtler conspiring and conniving. While some of the more tangential factions and contentions are hazy in their nature and motivations, overall The City of Brass is a compelling read. Chakraborty won back my enthusiasm with a rousing game-changer of an ending. I didn’t even care that it was a cliffhanger! Now I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in THE DAEVABAD TRILOGY, The Kingdom of Copper, expected to be published in 2018.
“So you just live quietly with these powers?" he demanded. "Haven't you ever wondered why you have them? Suleiman's eye... you could be overthrowing governments, and instead you steal from peasants!”