The City of Brass (Hardcover, 2017, Harper Voyager) 4 stars

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th …

The City of Brass

4 stars

City of Brass is the first book in SA Chakraborty's Daevabad medieval Muslim fantasy trilogy. The premise is that an Egyptian thief with mysterious healing powers accidentally summons a warrior djinn; it turns out she is the last of a race of Nahid djinn and is whisked away to a hidden city of Daevabad where she is immediately embroiled in politics.

What I enjoyed the most out of this book was the multilayered and dynamic political and personal tensions. The current Geziri rulers destroyed the previous Nahid/Daeva rulers, now living as ~second class citizens in Daevabad. The historical (and present) conflict between them revolves around Shafit half-djinn who are both required to live in Daevabad and also forced to live in squalor. For me, this is fantasy politics at its best where everybody's grievances and actions are understandable and often there's no good answers.

The two alternating perspectives of this book are from Nahri (the aforementioned Egyptian thief) with her warrior djinn Dara (who is loathed by Geziri and celebrated by Daeva), and the second Geziri prince Ali (stuck up, rule bound, named after Dara's mortal enemy, supports Shafit to the consternation of his father the king and his older brother heir). All of this leads to complicated and messy interactions between the whole cast, where the backdrop of history tinges every relationship.

The start of the book was a bit rocky for me, and had a lot of what felt like info-dumping by Dara on their way to Daevabad. On top of that, it took me a little bit to digest all the different djinn races and fit that into the slow historical reveals. That said, once everything got going, the relationships and politics were great fun to read and the ending really landed a good climax with intriguing developments for the next book.

(I read this because it was off of the #SFFBookClub's backlog, and also because of screamsbeneath's review of the whole series.)