Into the Forest discussion

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)
This topic is about The City of Brass
44 views
Magical Beings > The City of Brass spoilers allowed

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Jalilah | 4530 comments Mod
This is the spoilers allowed thread of the adult book winner of the May 15-July 14 Group Read The City of Brass!


message 2: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret | 3759 comments Mod
I'm here mainly to see what happens in the end, haha. I abandoned it halfway through. It didn't seem magical to me? Like, the djinn are just too human.


message 3: by Jalilah (last edited Jun 15, 2018 03:21PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jalilah | 4530 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I'm here mainly to see what happens in the end, haha. I abandoned it halfway through. It didn't seem magical to me? Like, the djinn are just too human."

My copy finally arrived, but while I was waiting I started a rather thick novel The Valley of Amazement,which I'll finish first.
I will read it regardless because of the Cairo setting. I spent a lot if time there, so have a personal connection. Also Melanie's comparisons with Alif the Unseen and the Golim and the Jinn have me hopeful.


message 4: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I find that kind of confusing, 'cause to me those two books weren't a thing alike.


message 5: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret | 3759 comments Mod
Yeah, the feeling of all three books are very different to me. There are surface similarities of course: djinn, historical fantasy like Golem, a djinn city like Alif. But Golem is more literary, Alif more action/adventure, and Brass almost YA fantasy romance.


message 6: by Kelsey (last edited Jun 22, 2018 03:08PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kelsey | 84 comments I have some very mixed feelings here... I wish I had totally loved this, since I nominated it after all! Historical fantasy is one of my absolute favorite genres/subgenres, and you can tell that S.A. Chakraborty really does know her history, but I was disappointed that that aspect of the story was really secondary to the fantasy worldbuilding of Daevabad and the magical world, all of which felt really generic. I'd been vaguely hoping for the same sort of fusion of in-depth history with folklore that I've enjoyed so much in Katherine Arden's Winternight Trilogy books (The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower), but that isn't what this book does.

Chakraborty's djinn/daeva are a pretty easy stand-in for the long-lived/immortal characters with magical powers who populate vast swaths of western epic/high fantasy. The young woman from a rough background with a great magical destiny and the prince who's realizing how corrupt/unfair his kingdom is are both archetypes I'm happy to read on principle, but it meant that both the POV characters and the "love interest" were all predictable types.

And this was the third book I'd read just in the past couple months with a character whose magical healing powers let them dust themselves off and keep going after sustaining injury after injury that should kill them. It's one of those tropes that's fine by me once or twice, but the more frequently I see it the more it feels like a narrative cheat.

At times the story felt like it had echoes Strange the Dreamer's journey to a magical city, but without Taylor's lush prose and imagination, or of the political intrigue and magical upper class of Warbreaker (the only Sanderson I've read), but without Sanderson's skill with magic systems. I could probably go on. The point here is that I LIKE these books, but they have to be really exceptional to stand out in the crowd.

I think that the friends and reviewers I've seen give this four or five stars are mostly hardcore epic fantasy fans. I can see how if that's your go-to reading, the culturally specific elements of this would be a breath of fresh worldbuilding air. It's especially important for people from diverse cultural backgrounds to see themselves in these sorts of stories that are so pervasive, so genuine kudos on that front. But I was hoping for a more original story.

There are authors who can pull off a "traditional" fantasy that draws me in deeply enough that I'm totally here for it. Many more, I'm happy to enjoy while I'm reading them, but they don't make a lasting impact, and I end up wondering whether I'm wasting my time. So many books, etc., after all. This was one of the latter. I enjoyed it while it lasted, but I don't think I'll even remember the relevant plot details by the time the second book is released.


message 7: by Margaret (last edited Jun 22, 2018 07:40PM) (new) - added it

Margaret | 3759 comments Mod
I agree with a lot of your points, Kelsey. I do consider myself an epic fantasy fan, and yet, this did not speak to me. I've read past epic fantasy with a lot of politics and enjoyed it -- like The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. But Addison's characterization went deeper. I guess thinking over past political epic fantasy I've enjoyed, they're all a lot more layered, and the characters more subtle.

And despite the setting and djinn, I agree, it still felt Western to me. Have you read The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories? It's SOO good. The stories are much more culturally immersive.

I actually recommended The City of Brass in a post I wrote recently for Book Riot. I needed one more book and enough people had rec'ed this one I added it. But then I couldn't finish it! Here's the list: https://bookriot.com/2018/03/20/histo...

Ah well.

Kelsey, you may want to give Bohemian Gospel a try. The protagonist Mouse has healing magic, but there's what I think an interesting twist to that. And it's more reminiscent of The Bear and the Nightingale, though more historical and less folklore.

And even though I didn't nominate it, I did vote for it! You're absolutely allowed to be disappointed in books you nominate. :) It's happened to me on several occasions.


Kelsey | 84 comments I LOVED The Goblin Emperor, so I'm totally with you on that one, Margaret. I haven't read either The Djinn Falls in Love or Bohemian Gospel, so those are both going on the TBR! I know The Djinn Falls in Love has bunch of authors in it I already like. Thanks for the recs!

I read that Book Riot post of yours a while back, but even though I KNOW you write for them, I'm not sure I realized it was one of yours... I don't always notice the by-lines when I click on the links!

For historical fantasy, have you read Under the Pendulum Sun? I read it back in the fall when it was released, and it's been rattling around in my brain a bit ever since...


message 9: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret | 3759 comments Mod
I knew you read Book Riot sometimes, which is why I mentioned it!

Ooh, I have not read Under the Pendulum Sun, but I've added it to my TBR. Looks really good -- maybe I'll nominate it here sometime.


message 10: by Jalilah (last edited Jun 28, 2018 01:52PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jalilah | 4530 comments Mod
Kelsey wrote: "I have some very mixed feelings here... I wish I had totally loved this, since I nominated it after all! Historical fantasy is one of my absolute favorite genres/subgenres, and you can tell that S...."

I agree with all your points Kelsey! Especially what you say about Chakraborty's djinn being stand-ins for "the long-lived/immortal characters with magical powers who populate vast swaths of western epic/high fantasy".
I'm not at all an epic fantasy fan to began with and was expecting historical fantasy. Honestly I can't even say if the author knows her stuff or not because there is so little taking place in Egypt. I don't know how much she has taken from actual Djinn lore and what she made up, but aside from describing the different types of djinn, they otherwise they did not as Margaret put it seem very magical.
I am happy I read it only because I would have been forever curious about it had I not. If her second book takes place mainly in the Brass city I'll probably skip it. If I find out there will be more parts in Cairo I might read on. What it's not is a romance that's for sure. Also I did not find it that predicable either. My reasons for not liking it that much ( I did not hate it either and actually enjoyed some parts ) is the second world fantasy part.


message 11: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret | 3759 comments Mod
I do enjoy second world fantasy and still found the Brass city boring. But oh well! Maybe the 2nd one takes place more in Cairo.


Jalilah | 4530 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I do enjoy second world fantasy and still found the Brass city boring. But oh well! Maybe the 2nd one takes place more in Cairo."
If you want to read something with more magical Djinn try what I'm reading now A Hundred and One Nights. It is very old, older than The Arabian Nights and the feeling is more like fairy tales.


message 13: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret | 3759 comments Mod
Lila wrote: "If you want to read something with more magical Djinn try what I'm reading now A Hundred and One Nights. It is very old, older than The Arabian Nights and the feeling is more like fairy tales. "

I have it on my TBR list!


back to top