City of Brass by SA Chakraborty


I picked up this book following some online buzz and an Amazon discount, and I'm glad I did!

The book is the first of a trilogy, and it's a rip-roaring adventure in a fantasy Middle East. It follows Nahri, an orphan in C13-ish Cairo, who quickly discovers her magical heritage when she accidentally summons a murderous ifrit in the body of a young girl, trashes a chunk of the Cairo necropolis, and gets rescued by by a djinn of dubious background. Meanwhile, we follow a noble in a city of djinn who gets caught up some nasty crackdowns on a civil rights movement.

There's action, adventure, chases, intrigue, romance, realpolitik, fights large and small, revelation of dark secrets, and quite a bit of characters growing. Events rattle along at a good pace, the characters are all nicely drawn, are all active and engaged, and pretty much act in believable ways, rather than doing things for needs of the plot. I think the author lets the power level of the magic get away from her a bit towards the end of the book, but even that doesn't detract from the central verisimilitude of the characters.

Book 2 in the trilogy is now out. I'll get it just as soon as I'm up to date with the club's monthly read.


  • 0
    Sounds interesting! If the power gets out of hand in vol 1, I wonder what happens by vol 3 😁
  • 1

    In the author's defence, the "overpowered enigmatic bad boy" is a mystery to the other characters too and a plot point. I trust the author to have a plan for why it's happening.

  • 1

    I saw this book some time ago and was intrigued - I do quite enjoy the Middle East as a setting. "Djinn of dubious background" - what could be more dubious than just being a normal Djinn?

  • 1

    Oh, it's very much a more dubious background than the rest of the djinn. To the extent that he's well-known and notorious among all the rest of the djinni.

  • 1

    Everything is relative, Apocryphal! :smiley:

  • 1

    I've just started book 2, The Kingdom of Copper. That creeping power level was a foreshadowing of a Major Plot Point in book 2, so that's fine. Let's see what she does with it!

  • 2

    ...and finished book 2. That was a lot of fun! The pacing is even better in this book than the first. The author does a lot of placing Chekov guns above metaphorical fireplaces, which really builds the anticipation. You know the gun's going to be pointed at someone by the book's end, but you don't know who will be doing the pointing, whom it will be pointed at, and whether the trigger will be pulled. And at the end, all those guns end up being used.

    The characters remain strong and believable, with people mostly doing things that come from their personality rather than plot convenience, the pace keeps up, and the sense of place is good.

    Highly recommended.

  • 2
    On my list of things I plan to read.... :)
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