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766 pages, Hardcover
First published June 11, 2020
Do you know how many times I’ve had to do this? Forget healing, my specialty should be having my life destroyed and then being forced to rebuild from nothing.I finished reading The Kingdom of Copper, the second volume in The Daevabad Trilogy, in December, 2018. Yet, when I picked up the final book in S.A. Chakraborty’s fantastical work, The Empire of Gold, in late April, 2020, it was if I had finished reading #2 the week before. She is such a good writer that you are instantly drawn into the adventures of her characters, and not only their external journeys and challenges, but their struggles, to figure out what the right thing is to do, devise a means of doing it. The most decent way forward is not always all that obvious. This helps you root for them, not that you will need much help, to find their way through the moral mazes that appear, overcome considerable obstacles, and try their damndest to make right what has been made wrong.
Yet everything was just a touch off. There were empty spaces where conjured buildings should have stood, ugly pockmarks on the skyline. The brass walls were tarnished, the edifices—on closer inspection—riddled with missing bricks and blackened mortar. Defying any weather pattern Nahri knew, somehow the eastern half of the island was draped in snow while the sun scorched the western half so fiercely small fires smoldered in the scrubby hills. A hazy black cloud revealed itself to be a swarm of flies, and the ruined Citadel still lay bare to the sky like a scar, its tower half-drowned in the lake. Just like the mountains, Daevabad was sick…
Oh, this kingdom was eight hundred years. There’s no kingdoms that lasted for eight hundred years. There’s this one stable ruling family? I think we should pull that apart a bit. - from the Fantasy Inn interviewAnd the notion that a rightful heir is ordained by a higher power and will rule wisely if only he or she can assume their rightful place. Medieval? For sure. Sane? Not at all.
Fiza, however--God bless her--had stopped finding anything about his transformation intimidating and treated him with her normal base level of rudeness. “Yes, your wateriness,” she said with a sarcastic bow.The love element is not reduced to girl meets boy, or triangulated to girl meets hot djinn AND boy. Chakraborty wanted to get away from the bodice-ripping, all-consuming passion that marks many fantasy novels. Considering how long these characters live, happily ever after might carry some extra baggage. Also, love is diverse and messy. Nahri learned from childhood never to trust anyone. Makes it even tougher to skip through the usual minefields of romantic attraction. Ali had his strict religious upbringing and must contend with the awkwardness of the object of his desire being his brother’s wife. Messy. And then there are political considerations, (would you be with someone from the family that murdered large numbers of your people? Again?). Then there are career pieces. Nahri wants to be a doctor, for example. How will that fit into her schedule if she is busy raising an army and helping lead it? How would that work if she gets killed trying to free her home? (But how perfect it is in 2020 (and now in 2021) to have a lead character in a fantasy series whose primary ambition in life is to be a doctor?)
No more journeying with attractive magical warriors on ridiculously dangerous quests after this. Nahri clearly had a problem.Review posted – June 26, 2020
“Not wanting to be destroyed by despair doesn’t make you a coward, Ali. It makes you a survivor.”
It is always a bittersweet feeling when you reach the last sentence of one of your favourite series. The denial that you will not read more about characters you love, characters whose adventures you have been following for a while now. But, at the same time, I am so happy with how S.A. Chakraborty wrapped up this historical fantasy trilogy.
The Empire of Gold starts off right where The Kingdom of Copper left off. After the action-packed ending full of twists of the second book, everyone is picking sides and making hard decisions. I am still in awe of the character development, especially regarding Ali. I have always praised the complexity of these characters through the entire trilogy and this final instalment shows that evolution in a remarkable way.
The Persian, Babylonian and Egyptian mythological elements take a step forward, being some of the new creatures introduced in this book essential for the resolution of the plot. Chakraborty has connected the breadcrumbs she has been dropping since The City of Brass in a masterful way, bringing everything full circle. Moreover, although the ins and outs between the different tribes take a back seat in The Empire of Gold, the political strategies are as engrossing and intricate as in the first two books.
“It made it worse, this passing of a barbed baton between women who no matter how clever, how powerful, would always be known by the men to whom they were attached.”
I just love how the author tied everything in this conclusion, even going back to places and people that I did not think we would visit again. It was a beautiful way of saying goodbye to the story and, at the same time, a way of showing us the different paths the main characters might have been taken in other circumstances. The concept of how important is to make our own choices is quite emphasized in this book, as well as the conversations regarding colonialism and regarding how women’s voices have been silenced throughout history.
Also, this trilogy has, hands down, one the most beautiful slow burn romances ever. I actually love all the different relationships and dynamics between every single character, but this romance and the complexity of the bond of the Qahtani siblings were my absolutely favourites. Seriously, the portrayal of the different relationships in this trilogy, regardless of its nature, is amazing.
Overall, I truly believe The Empire of Gold is a perfect and fitting ending for one of my favourite trilogies. It is the first time I give 5 stars to every single book in a series apart from ASOIAF, so I think that says a lot about how much I love these books. I am going to miss reading about Nahri, Ali, Muntadhir, Jamshid, Hatset, Fiza and Zaynab. Also, that last sentence is literally perfection.
“I do not believe ambitious men who say the only route to peace and prosperity lies in giving them more power—particularly when they do it with lands and people who are not theirs.”
P.S.: I'm not English, so if you see any mistakes let me know so I can correct them, please.
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