The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

EmpireMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Will it all work out?

You’ll just have to read it and find out!

Okay, first things first.  Empire of Gold is the third and final instalment in the Daevabad Trilogy.  Let me be absolutely clear, this is not a series where you want to jump in mid series and for sure you cannot read The Empire of Gold without having read the first two instalments.  This series has plenty of lush worldbuilding, lots of history and plenty of well drawn characters.  The inspiration and motivation is palpable and you will miss out on a veritable wealth of goodness if you try to jump on board at this point – well, at best you’ll miss out – at worst you’ll be in a positive world of hurt with absolutely no idea what’s going on.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

So, this isn’t an easy review to write being the final in the series.  I seriously don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’m just going to chuck a few random thoughts and feelings around and let them land where they may.

At the end of book 2 I was quite literally gobsmacked.  You could have knocked me over with a feather with that ending.  I had no idea how this was going to go, in fact I just couldn’t see how the author was going to get out of the hole this one found itself in.  But, I think I can safely say this ending managed to blow me away.

Still in Daevaba Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and Dara are trying to recover from the outcome of No.2.  They’re trying to rally, magic has vanished although certain parties still have power.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (aka Cairo) Ali and Nairi are also trying to regroup.  Both of them are struggling but they mind to find help in an old ally and in fact there is almost a rosy future for them should they choose to take that path.  The choices.  Stay in Cairo, learn how to make a living as an apothecary, enjoy life, become a couple, live happily ever after, or return to Daevabad and live under the tyrant who is now in control and who has made such despicable choices.  Now, let me think?  Peace, happiness and love or death and destruction.  Well, obviously this would be a much shorter book if they took the easy route wouldn’t it?

Characters.  Well, everyone is back in force and then some and I’m pleased to say that the character growth is great.  These are such great characters because they’re not simply good or bad.  Who is after all?  They’ve made mistakes – some of them are very big, huge, bloopers.  But, some of them are trying to work through these and make reparations of sorts.  Some are bitter.  Some are guilty.  You get the picture I’m sure.

World building.  I loved this world.  I love the juxtaposition between the everyday world sitting alongside the magical and mythical Daevabad.  The thing is, both have their pluses, both have their minuses and it gives a new meaning ‘to the grass always being greener’ – because maybe it isn’t.  You cross over from one to the other and still life goes on.  People live, people die, people fight and people love. But, I do love the way this author manages to conjure a sense of place whether you’re in the mundane or the magical.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have anything, I think this maybe could have been a bit drawn out in places, but I can’t say that made me hesitant to continue reading and I love the way that one of these storylines could lead to something quite different if the author chose to go in that direction.

Overall, this was a very satisfying ending.  If pushed I would say that the middle book was probably my favourite (what middle book syndrome?) but this is an ending that I simply couldn’t foresee.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

Friday Face Off : ‘That which yields, is not always weak”

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Exotic – ‘That which yields, is not always weak”– anything that represents something from distant lands.

A lot of the new themes are open to interpretation which might make choosing the covers and seeing other’s choices very interesting.  I can’t stress enough that this is all about your own interpretation and hopefully this new open feel to the meme will bring a larger selection of books and covers.  It’s not supposed to be hard work, there are no rules, just enjoy yourself.

I’m not sure what I had in mind for this week’s theme but sitting here and thinking about it ‘exotic’ means something from a far or distant land therefore, strictly speaking, where I come from, the North of the UK is exotic to somebody from the other side of the world (funny but you never think of your own place as being exotic)? And, therefore, given that I predominantly read fantasy books – all the locations are exotic!  But, that being said, and because I’m a northern lass, I tend to think of somewhere exotic as being somewhere warm – probably because I’d like a bit of that lovely sunshine.  So, this week I’ve gone for The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty and I’m highlighting two complete sets:

vs

At first I was convinced that the topset was my favourite.  I love the way the covers are framed by that, is it a door or a window?  I’m not sure, but I love the idea and the notion of it opening into a world that’s completely unique and one that I’m eager to explore.

But, seeing the second set all together like this, the colours are so vibrant – I would definitely be drawn to this set of covers.  The fantastic details and the consistency.

Basically, I’m torn, but having given it a lot of thought I’m going with the first set.  And this is based purely on the fact that the colours feel to me to be in the right order.  I know, that probably sounds really odd but it makes sense to me.  I feel like the middle cover of the second set should be green and I’m basing that on very little – other than copper usually becomes green with age – it’s a strange line of reasoning but there it is and I can’t get my head around it.

Which is your favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know 😀

Next week –  Brown

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers) (I’ve added some new themes – some of these are slightly different, in order to avoid too much repetition I’m trying to make the themes more of a suggestion that everyone can interpret how they like.  

2019

20th March – Brown – a cover or covers that are brown

27th March – Freebie – choose one of your favourite covers

3rd April Fools – a trick of the eye – a cover that is more than meets the eye.

10th April – Moody – a cover that is atmospheric,

17th April – out of focus – double vision or all a blur

24th April – Armour – ‘“Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

1st May – Canine – “And then there were cats, thought Dog.:

8th May – graphic novel cover – “Love belongs to Desire, and Desire is always cruel”

15th May – pink – as pink as cotton candy – any cover that is pink

22nd May – Sorrow – a cover that makes you feel sad

29th May – Silhouette – an island, a person, anything you like

5th June – Flight – any type of flight – to flee, to fly

12th June – The bodice ripper – exactly as it seems

19th June – Time – time waits for no one

26th June – Windows – windows to the soul?

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

city ofI completed City of Brass a couple of weeks ago and with a couple of minor issues I would say that it worked out as quite an amazing read.  I certainly wouldn’t have guessed this to be a debut novel.  The world building is sumptuous, it oozes with details providing a rich and colourful vision for the mind to feast on at the same time as bringing to mind tales of the Arabian Nights with all the magic that those entail.

We start the story by making the acquaintance of Nahri.  In her twenties Nahri lives a double life on the streets of 18th century Cairo.  By day she is a healer and the small glimmer of magic that she hides gives her a genuine ability in this field.  She can see a person’s illness although she can’t always make them well.  By night she practices slight of hand relieving the wealthy Ottoman nobles of their precious baubles.  She also takes part in cleansing ceremonies, ridding people of their demons, or ifrits, as they are known.  At one such ceremony Nahri unwittingly calls forth a djinn warrior, or daeva warrior – as is the preferred term.  Dara is the most notorious and fearsome warrior in Daevabad history.  Recognising that Nahri may herself have mixed blood the safest course is to take her to the magical city of Daevabad, her only protection against the ifrits that will now hunt Nahri to her death.

The story then follows the two as they travel rough terrain, constantly pursued by evil as they try to reach the protection of the legendary City of Brass.   Of course, on arrival, don’t expect all their troubles to disappear.  The City of Brass is far from idyllic.  Ruled by something of a tyrant, King Ghassan, fear and oppression are the main order of the day.  The six pure blood tribes keep those with mixed blood firmly under the heel.  Shafits – as mixed bloods are rather derogatorily called –  are treated terribly and it seems that rebellion is brewing.  On top of this Ghassan himself treads a precarious line keeping the ambitious nobles in check.  Bring into the mix a warrior with a very troubled past and a potential Daeva with blood in her veins from a line of healers who have long been thought to have been killed off and you can imagine the machinations that are afoot.

To the characters.  Strangely enough Nahri and Dara are not the only key characters.  Prince Alizayd (Ali) is one of the main roles here and has his own POV chapters.  Ali is the younger brother of Muntadhir.  The two have different roles and expectations.  Muntadhir will become ruler of Daevabad.  Ali has been raised and trained with the expectation of becoming his brother’s protector.  As such he will not marry, his devotion being reserved to the safety of the king.  Ali plays an intriguing role and his chapters are interesting to read.  He’s conflicted, the ill treatment of the mixed blood population doesn’t sit well with his religious beliefs and he wants to help – although his attempts to do so are a little ill misguided and serve to highlight his own naivety.

In terms of criticisms.  I confess that my main expectation was that there would be instalove and I dare say that the description of a young girl, with secret magic, being led across the desert to a legendary city, had a few eyes rolling with that very thought, but, I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case.  Nahri and Dara do indeed develop a relationship but it’s much more realistically paced and measured and takes time to develop.  However, the pacing of the story itself does suffer from a lull during the middle of the book. It fairly bolts out of the stalls with an intriguing introduction with smooth and impressive writing but then it seemed to lose focus a little.  Fortunately this blip is only during the middle section and wasn’t enough to deter me – in a way, I couldn’t help thinking that this lack of momentum was a reflection of the time Nahri spent in the palace.  The realisation never quite lived up to her expectations and she seemed to be at something of a loss herself and this seemed to come out in the story.   My other little niggle was in relation to Dara.  I liked his character but, did he come across as an experienced warrior who has lived many years?  Not really.  In his interactions with Nahri he read a lot closer to her own age – it didn’t make me dislike him any but he didn’t have that weary indifference that you would expect from somebody who has been round the block a few hundred times.

All in all, little criticisms aside, this was an entertaining, well written and fairly engrossing tale.  It has a wealth of magical elements thrown in and is a beautifully written story.  The ending is very dramatic and leaves something of a jaw dropping set up for the next book which I will definitely be picking up.

I received a copy through Edelweiss courtesy of the publishers for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.