review: the wrath and the dawn

the wrath and the dawnTitle: The Wrath and the Dawn
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published in 2015
Genre: retelling
Rating: ★★★ – it was okay

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. 

my thoughts on june 19

The Wrath and the Dawn had been on my to-read list since its release in 2015. It was one of the most hyped book in the bookish community at the time, and as always, the hype scared me. I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to end up disappointed. High expectations can really kill a reading experience, which seems rather unfair to the novel. After about 4 years and seeing some mixed reviews pop up, I decided it was finally time to read it. Unfortunately, I still found it to be a disappointing read.

The premise makes it seem like an epic read. Shahrzad volunteers to be the King’s wife, even though he kills them come morning. One of his past brides that was killed was Shahrzad’s best friend, and she is determined to get revenge. Doesn’t that sound incredible?

Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me. Shahrzad hates the king (obviously), who has killed countless of women after marrying them – including her best friend. This level of hatred, these things he has done, you cannot overcome. What I wanted from this book was a revenge story. Yet only a few days after she comes to the palace (I can’t exactly remember how long it took), Shahrzad begins to waver. She starts to notice how handsome the king is, and just doesn’t understand how he could have done such monstrous things. Because we all know attractive people are inherently nice… With every little tiny act of kindness, she proclaims he can’t be a monster after all.

Listen, girl. Killers aren’t going on a rampage every single second. A person can be perfectly charming and kind, and still murder others. They are not mutually exclusive! I hated how fast she gave up on hating him, how their “love” story developed in .2 seconds, and how she seemed to forgive him for everything. I just couldn’t deal.

Let’s be honest, this was a case of insta-love. She hated him, sure. However, after being kind of nice to her for 2 days, she was ready to throw it all away to be with him. I found myself rolling my eyes for the majority of the book, because it just seemed so unrealistic and ridiculous to me.

Of course, I knew there would be a romance in this story, an enemies-to-lovers one. I didn’t expect it to develop so fast though. That took me out of the story, and made me genuinely disinterested in reading it.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what happened in this novel aside from the romance between the two main characters. The only other person I can recall is Tariq, a character I actually enjoyed. He should have ended up with the girl, in my opinion. I guess that could still happen, because I haven’t read the sequel, but I highly doubt it.

Lastly, let’s talk about the reveal on why Khalid kills his brides every morning. Obviously, I won’t spoil what the big secret is, in case you haven’t read it. When I came across the reveal, I honestly couldn’t believe it. It made me so angry, to be honest. If you’ve read this book come talk to me on Twitter in the DMs, because I need to discuss this with you all. To me, this was such an obvious ploy to make Khalid seem more likeable, and I hated it.

All in all, this book just wasn’t for me. The romance killed what could have been an epic read for me. I simply lost interest in the story, and won’t pick up the sequel.

 

review: the shadowglass, the conclusion to one of my favorite fantasy trilogies

the shadow glassTitle: The Shadowglass
Series: The Bone Witch #3
Author: Rin Chupeco
Published in 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire

I won’t provide a synopsis because this is the third book in the trilogy and would contain spoilers for the previous instalments. If you want to read the premise of The Shadowglass, you can click on the title above or the cover, which will take you to the Goodreads page.

My review on the first book, The Bone Witch.

 

 

my thoughts on june 19

The Shadow Glass was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and one of the only books I pre-ordered. I’ve been in love with this trilogy ever since receiving an e-ARC of the first book in 2016. I was both excited and scared to read this conclusion, because it would wrap up one of my favorite stories. Would it be a good ending? I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed by this book at all.

Obviously, I can’t say much (or anything at all really) about the plot or storyline of the book because it would spoil the events of the previous two novels. I’ll keep it very general and abstract for you.

I absolutely love the twists and turns in this story. Throughout this entire trilogy, I found myself doubting every character and interaction. I didn’t know who to trust, much like Tea doesn’t know who she can rely on. I was taken by surprise multiple times throughout this book, which doesn’t happen all that often anymore. It was a wild ride, and I even shed a few tears at some point.

That is the nature of tyranny, young Tea. Maintaining power is their sole intention. Why worry about retaliation and revolution when they have always intended to wield the sword?

What makes this trilogy stand out to me are the characters. They’re all so well-developed, given their own time, and have their strengths and flaws.

Tea is a badass woman, but she isn’t infallible either.

“We all admired her, Knox.” Lord Besserly raised his glass. “Let’s raise our glasses to the Dark asha. As strong and mighty as we are, able warriors one and all – may nothing we do piss her off.”

She’s way too impulsive and emotional at times, which leads to rash decision making. The great part is that she’s very aware of her personality flaws and they don’t overtake the story – if that makes sense. Love, family, and friendship are incredibly important to her, which shows in the way she treats her friends. She’d do absolutely anything for them. While she has a strong sense of duty, she won’t let it overshadow her humanity, or her as a person.

“I am selfish. I am not the compassionate woman she is. Sometimes I feel she is far too kind for her own good. I will serve the kingdoms, but not at the cost of my health.”

Another character I want to bundle up in a blanket and protect forever is Likh. In the entire trilogy, we’ve seen how fluid gender is through Likh’s story. While the rest of the world considers Likh a boy, she has always been drawn to the asha (female witches) over the Deathseekers (males capable of drawing runes and magic). Likh loves the intricate hua of the asha, the way they perform and carry themselves. In The Shadowglass, we see Likh realize which pronouns actually fit her and how she explains it to the others. Seeing this transition, this realization and acceptance, was wonderful.

Aside from gender, there’s also diversity in terms of sexuality. There’s an f/f relationship I absolutely adore, but I feel is more prominent in the second book rather than the third. There’s a male character who is primarily attracted to other men as well.

If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, please give it a try. I promise it’s worth your time. I’m so happy to say that this Asian-inspired fantasy series written by a Filipino author belongs on my favorites shelf. 

recommendations from my favorite genre (some more fantasy for you all)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, we’re talking about books from our favorite genre. For me, that’s fantasy. I’ll try to give some recommendations I think a lot of you haven’t read yet. Here are my picks for this week.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke
This fantasy novel is perfect for a cosy winter day. It’s a polar fantasy, in which the main character goes on a quest to the Goddess to save her village after the red lights in the sky appear. After all, red is a warning.

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco
I want more people to read this incredible Asian-inspired fantasy trilogy. It’s one of my favorite series, and I own them all in hardcover. If you know me, you realize that’s a big deal. I usually buy paperback only. It has witches, necromancy, betrayal, royalty, and battling kingdoms.

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova
I have seen quite a lot of people talking about Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series, but not necessarily about her Loom Saga. This is a new adult fantasy series in which the Five Guilds were conquered by the Dragon King. Ari is doing everything she can, as an engineer turned thief, to thwart the Dragon usurpers. It’s brilliant! By making this list, I’m also reminding myself to finally read the third book…

Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim #1) by Juliet Marillier
I’ve mentioned Juliet Marillier quite often, because she’s such an underrated author when it comes to fantasy. Dreamer’s Pool follows Blackthorn and Grim, who live on the fringe of a mysterious forest. Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance in exchange for freedom, and now she has to spend 7 years assisting those who need her help.

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) by Juliet Marillier
I’ve been in love with this series since I was a teenager, and I’m still urging people to read it to this day. The first book is the story of 7 siblings, 1 sister and 6 brothers, who have been cursed by their stepmother. The 6 brothers have turned into swans, and the only way Sorcha can save them is by weaving them shirts from weeds with painful thorns and not uttering a sound until she can put the clothes around their necks.

White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black
Out of all of Holly Black’s novels, I feel like I barely see anyone talk about White Cat. I absolutely loved this urban fantasy trilogy, so I’m boosting it here. The main character, Cassel, comes from a worker family (think maffia) and has conned his way into a fancy school. I’d suggest listening to the audiobooks of these, as they’re narrated by Jesse Eisenberg.

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik
Once again, a popular author in the bookish community, but an frequently overlooked series. Temeraire follows Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, during the Napoleonic Wars. Sounds epic, doesn’t it?

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
For those of you who are craving a graphic novel, I’d recommend Nimona. Nimona is a young shapeshifter who wants to become the sidekick of a villain. Together, they battle the good side! But is it really the “good” side?

Nice Dragons Finish Last (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron
Another urban fantasy for you all, and another dragon book! Heartstrikers focuses on Julius, the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan. He’s always looked down upon by the others because he’s a nice dragon. Dragons aren’t supposed to be nice. It has magic, dragons, ghosts, ancient feuds, evil, scheming and backstabbing, and everything you could ever want.

Sunbolt (Sunbolt Chronicles #1) by Intisar Khanani
A very underrated fantasy series to close off my list. Hitomi gets caught working for the Shadow League, an underground movement, by Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame and she’ll need every ounce of courage and magical powers she can summon to escape. Be prepared and buy the second book immediately, though, because the first one is very short and you’ll be left wanting more.

Have you read any of these books? Which fantasy novels would you recommend me?

review: his majesty’s dragon | Napoleonic war + dragons

his majesty's dragonTitle: His Majesty’s Dragon
Series: Temeraire #1
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: historical fantasy (adult)
Published in 2006 by Del Rey
Rating: ★★★★ – really liked it

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

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His Majesty’s Dragon is the story of Laurence, a captain in the marines, and Temeraire, his dragon. Laurence’s crew captures a French ship and discover that it has an unhatched dragon egg on board. They’re months away from reaching land, however, and the egg might hatch at any moment. It’s crucial that the dragon bonds with someone as soon as it hatches so they can strengthen the British Aerial Corps. Some unexpected things happen, and Laurence ends up bonding with the dragon, Temeraire.

This book is set during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. I like how Naomi Novik managed to fully immerse the reader in the time period itself, through different tactics.

First is the writing. As I was reading this book, it occurred to me that the writing style reminded me of Jane Eyre. It has that same sentence structure and feeling to it. After looking it up, I realized that Jane Eyre was published in 1847. I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy novel in which I could tell the era it’s set in from the writing itself.

There’s also the obvious difference placed between men and women. It shows in little things, like how surprised Laurence was when a woman wore pants, or in the “proper” way he felt like he needed to interact with them, or in the way he would not give a female trainee the same privileges as the male ones because he needed to “protect” her. Is it annoying that this happens? Yes. However, Naomi Novik managed to show both history and present here. She added those things to the novel for historical reference, but challenges them as well. Either it’s someone else pointing his discrimination out to Laurence, or it’s him realizing how unfair it is.

I will say that my knowledge on the Napoleonic Wars is very limited, and it showed. I was quite confused at times, because you’re thrown in the middle of the war and have to figure out what’s happening by yourself. The sheer amount of places mentioned as well as the tactics and strategy behind the battles went over my head at times.

The story itself is a good mix between battle, training, and character exploration. The pacing never felt off, and it made for a pretty quick read even though the writing is not as easy to digest as most contemporary writing is.

First, Laurence and Temeraire have to get to know one another after the hatching. While I love both the main characters, my heart goes to Temeraire. I love that dragon! He made me laugh out loud multiple times, and I wish to protect him from all evil. As their bond deepens, their affection towards another is so sweet.

I do have a question though. The dragons all talk out loud in this book. In most books I’ve read, it’s more of a telepathy thing. How odd must it look when a dragon talks out loud? How do their mouths form the necessary shapes?

Laurence was an interesting character for me because I usually read about thieves, assassins, mercenaries, etc. when it comes to fantasy novels. Here, we follow a guy who is devoted to his country and duty, and prides himself on being a gentleman. It is so fascinating to read about someone focused on doing his duty and being a good citizen, even if it makes you want to push him into some mischief at times.

The one downside to this book, I would say, is that it’s clearly a set-up for a long series. You have the main characters meet, get to know one another, and train together, so that they can become a well-oiled machine for the battles to come.


I’m glad I finally picked this book up. It sat on my shelf, unread, for years… A few days after finishing it, I went to a used bookstore I love and discovered the next 3 books in the series there! I can’t wait to discover more of Laurence and Temeraire’s adventures. I would highly recommend this series, if the premise sounds at all appealing to you. 

review: the way of kings | 1200+ pages of epic fantasy goodness

the way of kingsTitle: The Way of Kings
Series: Stormlight Archive #1
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published in 2010 by Tor
Genre: epic fantasy (adult)
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite

I long for the days before the Last Desolation. Before the Heralds abandoned us and the Knights Radiant turned against us. When there was still magic in Roshar and honor in the hearts of men. 

In the end, not war but victory proved the greater test. Did our foes see that the harder they fought, the fiercer our resistance? Fire and hammer forge a sword; time and neglect rust it away. So we won the world, yet lost it. 

Now there are four whom we watch: the surgeon, forced to forsake healing and fight in the most brutal war of our time; the assassin, who weeps as he kills; the liar, who wears her scholar’s mantle over a thief’s heart; and the prince, whose eyes open to the ancient past as his thirst for battle wanes. 

One of them may redeem us. One of them will destroy us.

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I put off reading The Way of Kings for years because it is such an intimidating book. It’s an adult epic fantasy novel of over 1200 pages. That’s a serious commitment  reading-wise, is it not? I finally bit the bullet late last year, and I’m so glad I did. After the first few chapters, I found myself falling in love with the characters, and wanting to know more about the world. I’d highly recommend this book, even if it might seem daunting to you.

CHARACTERS

The Way of Kings is a multiple POV fantasy novel with three main perspectives – interspersed with some small chapters from other people’s point of view.

The main characters of this book are Kaladin, Dalinar, and Shallan. I would say that this novel is more of an exploration of their characters and the world, rather than an action-packed fantasy novel. I assume the sequels will focus more on events happening rather than character introduction and build-up, as the first book has set the PoV characters up pretty well. I find it hard to choose a favorite character, to be honest, as they are all intriguing in their own way.

There are other characters who have their own POV as well, but don’t have as much page-time as the previous three, such as Szeth-son-son-Vallano (who is endlessly intriguing), Adolin Kholin (Dalinar’s son), and Navani Kholin (widow of King Gavilar).

Kaladin is the character you would follow to your own death, but is simultaneously the one you want to wrap in a blanket and protect from the universe. Dalinar is a man to look up to, one you can’t help but admire, even if you feel he’s somewhat naive at times. In fact, he reminds me a lot of A Song of Ice and Fire‘s Ned Stark. Shallan is a woman you grow to love and understand. She’s been placed in a position that leaves her unsure of what course to take, and I would not know what to do either. I can’t help but admire her eagerness to learn, and adore her witty retorts. I also wish I could draw even half as well as her.

“Ignorance is hardly unusual, Miss Davar. The longer I live, the more I come to realize it is the natural state of the human mind. There are many who will strive to defend its sanctity and then expect you to be impressed with their efforts.”

There are other characters that are incredibly important to the story, like Jasnah. In fact, she might be my favorite character of all. I don’t want to say too much about her, but know that Jasnah has taken Shallan on as an apprentice. She’s also an atheist in a world where it’s seen as insane, and is a woman who is not afraid to walk her own path, regardless of what other people think.

“Regardless,” Jasnah continued, “tonight’s actions came about because I chose this path, not because of anything I felt you needed to see. However, the opportunity also presented a chance for instruction, for questions. Am I a monster or am I a hero? Did I just slaughter four men, or did I stop four murderers from walking the streets? Does one deserve to have evil done to her by consequence of putting herself where evil can reach her? Did I have a right to defend myself? Or was I just looking for an excuse to end lives?”

I especially loved this conversation she has with someone trying to convert her to their religion.

[talking about being an atheist]

“I wouldn’t say I have nothing to believe in. My brother and my uncle, my own abilities. The things I was taught by my parents.”

“But, what is right and wrong, you’ve… Well, you’ve discarded that.”

“Just because I do not accept the teachings of the devotaries does not mean I’ve discarded a belief in right and wrong.”

WORLD BUILDING

One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is the world-building. We have become quite used to fantastic world-building from Sanderson’s novels, as he always manages to create a new, epic world without confusing the reader. However, the same cannot be said for The Way of Kings. It’s, in my opinion, intentionally confusing at times.

He starts off with the basics of the world: the fact that in Alethkar people with “lighteyes” are nobility, while the “darkeyes” are peasants, the fact that there’s been a war between the countries for years, that they are fighting on the Shattered Plains after Alethkar’s king has been killed by the Parshendi, the highstorms that determine the climate of the world, and so on.

We are also told of a previous time in history, where the Heralds protected humanity and the Knights Radiant were incredible knights/warriors with Shardplate – armor that is almost impossible to breach and lends power to the wearer – and Shardblades – same but a sword. Why the Heralds turned their back to humanity, the Knights Radiant seemengly betrayed the world, and what happened next is a huge mystery throughout this book. Why? Records from that time don’t seem to exist, and so no one truly knows the details of that turning point in history. It’s fascinating to discover more of the world, because it’s not only new to us but to the characters as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Way of Kings is such a fascinating start to what I’m sure will be an epic series, and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel. I know it’s daunting to start the Stormlight Archive because the books are so long, but I promise it’s worth it. The first hundred pages or so may seem somewhat confusing or less captivating, but soon you’ll be unable to put the book down. I’m already so attached to these characters, am intrigued by the magic, and excited to discover the history of this world. I recently ordered the sequel, Words of Radiance, and I swear it won’t sit on my bookshelf for a year, unread! I promise. Truly.

spoiler-free review: the wicked king | preferring the sequel to the first book?

the wicked kingTitle: The Wicked King
Series; Folk of the Air #2
Author: Holly Black
Published in 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
Genre: fantasy (YA)
Rating: ★★★★.₅ – loved it

I won’t provide a synopsis, as this is the second book in a series and I don’t want to spoil anyone. If you want to check the premise out, you can click on the title or the cover of the book, which will take you to the Goodreads page.

You can also read my thoughts on the first book, The Cruel Prince, on my blog. I’ll go over some of my thoughts on the first book in this review too, as it’s relevant to my explanations, but you can read a more detailed version here.

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If you’ve read my review of The Cruel Prince, the first book in the series, you’ll know I was left somewhat disappointed by the novel. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I was bored throughout most of the book. Nothing really happened until 75% into the story, and it made the pacing feel somewhat off. As I had borrowed that book from my local library, I wanted to do the same for the sequel. I put in an acquisition request, got approved, and picked The Wicked King up a few weeks later.

I’m so happy to say I enjoyed the sequel far more than I did the first book. I had no issues with the pacing of this story, and the predominant themes of The Wicked King are somewhat more up my alley.

This entire novel is basically made up of scheming. As the faerie world thrives on power, political intrigue and backstabbing is all in a day’s work. In The Wicked King, Jude is participating more and more in the scheming of faeries. She’s reached a certain level of power, and now needs to do everything she can in order to hold her position. I adore stories that focus on strategy, politics, and scheming, even though they can seem a lot less plot-driven to others. That’s why I think this sequel was more up my alley than the previous one, because we were always looking at all the players on the board, what has been happening, who could gain from it, and so on.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.

I was also far more intrigued by the characters in the sequel. I feel like we didn’t truly get to know anyone in the first book, including Jude. In The Wicked King however, I had more of a grasp on their characters.

I’m absolutely fascinated by Jude. I find myself rooting for her all the time, even if that means cheering her on as she kills someone. She’s not a good person, and she owns it. She’s ambitious, smart, and realistic which is everything I’ve ever wanted in a main character. Basically, she’s a Slytherin and I’m in love with her. What I liked most about her is that Holly Black made her smart and cunning, but not all-knowing. She was able to outmaneuver so many people and faeries, but was caught off guard at times too.

I was also horrified to discover I started to like Cardan. I mentioned in my review of the first one that I wasn’t sure how to feel about the tension between Cardan and Jude, as he treated her so horribly for years – and that having an abusive past does not excuse you from abusing others. But while reading The Wicked King, I actually started to like him. Do I think he’s a good guy? Definitely not. Am I still rooting for him? Yes. I actually sort of felt like a proud mom by the end of the book, which is so odd.

I did wonder what the point of Locke in this story is. Is there actually a reason to have him in the novels, other than create tension between the families and couples? I also want to say that I absolutely hate Vivi. There, I said it. I think she’s selfish and naive to the point of hurting others, without even realizing how her behavior is affecting others in a negative way.

Before I end this review, I’ll quickly say… THAT ENDING. WHAT??


Surprisingly, I truly enjoyed reading The Wicked King. I wasn’t enamored by the first book in the series, so I didn’t have the highest expectations for the sequel. Unexpectedly, I ended up loving it! It’s filled with strategic plans, politics, scheming, murder and power plays, which I absolutely adore. If you were slightly disappointed by The Cruel Prince, I’d still recommend giving this a try. You might end up pleasantly surprised!

Have you read The Wicked King? What did you think of it? Have you ever enjoyed a sequel more than the first book?

review: the city of brass | an incredible fantasy novel everyone should read

city of brassTitle: The City of Brass
Series: Daevabad trilogy #1
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Published in 2017 by HarperVoyager
Genre: fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass – a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

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The City of Brass was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, and still it took me until January 2019 to actually read it. I think that’s because I only owned a digital copy of the novel until January, and somehow the book seemed to intimidating on my Kindle. I find it easier to read fantasy tomes in paperback format for some reason. My brain is weird, I’m aware. Anyway, now that I’ve finally read The City of Brass, I’m kicking myself for not doing so earlier. It was brilliant.

If you don’t know what this story is about, it follows a woman called Nahri who lives in Cairo. To make a living, she cons other people through healings, palm readings, and zars – which are a kind of exorcism, if I’m not mistaken. One day during a zar, something feels off to her, and she ends up accidentally summoning a djinn. Someone -or something- has been trying to kill her, and she’ll need the djinn’s help to survive.

Sometimes fantasy novels can be a bit difficult to get into. At the start, the amount of new places and names can get quite overwhelming, and it often feels like you’re getting a crash course in this world before the actual story takes off. That was definitely not the case with The City of Brass. I was immediately entranced by the setting and atmosphere, and knew I’d love the main character from the first page. I absolutely flew through this book! It’s 544 pages long -at least, my copy is- so I thought it would take me a few days at the very least, especially since it’s more of a new adult/adult fantasy than a YA one (in my opinion). It actually took me only a little over a day to read this entire novel.

When the story starts, Nahri is living and working in 18th century Cairo as a con artist. She especially loves taking money from the Turks, who have ‘conquered’ Egypt. We don’t stay in Cairo for that long however, as circumstances for her on the road. The djinn she accidentally raised promises to take her to Daevabad, where she’ll be (relatively) safe. If you are familiar with my reading tastes, you’ll probably know that I love traveling stories. Give me all the quests, and roads, and obstacles along the way. I’m here for it! If that’s not your thing, don’t worry. A large part of the novel takes place in Daevabad as well.

There’s an interesting difference between the part of the story set in Cairo versus the part set in Daevabad. As Nahri is so familiar with Cairo, we simply have to assume she knows best. We follow her to places she visits often, and people she knows. Daevabad, on the other hand, is completely unfamiliar territory to her. Here, we get a chance to explore the world with Nahri since the reader knows just as much as she does. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, and allowed me to imagine this grand city of brass as if it were real.

As if the setting and atmosphere weren’t enough, I also fell in love with all the characters. Like I mentioned earlier, I immediately knew I’d like Nahri as a protagonist. She’s a risk taker, smart, and cunning. She’s definitely a Slytherin (fight me on this), and I love her.

[…], the only thing they seemed to agree on was that the Egyptians couldn’t govern it themselves. God forbid. It’s not as though thee Egyptians were the inheritors of a great civilization whose mighty monuments still littered the land. Oh, no. They were peasants, superstitious fools who ate too many beans. Will, this superstitious fool is about the swindle you for all you’re worth, so insult away. Nahri smiled as the men approached.

I never once felt irritated or annoyed with our protagonist. While she isn’t necessarily likeable, she is still an intriguing and fascinating person. That’s exactly what I want from my main characters. I don’t need them to be goody-two-shoes. I want them to have a personality, I want to know they have a brain and actually know how to use it. Anyway, Nahri might end up as one of my favorite main characters of the year.

Another interesting character that was added to the mix is Dara. I feel like I can’t actually talk about him as a person without going into spoiler territory though. Suffice it to say, I wanted to wrap him up in a blanket and hug him for about 60% of the book.

“I was also once a young warrior from a ruling tribe. It’s a privileged position. Such utter confidence in the rightness of your people, such unwavering belief in your faith.” His smile faded; he sounded wistful. Regretful. “Enjoy it.”

I also have to admit I liked Alizayd. He’s a character I happened to both love and hate at the same time. He has strong beliefs, and is incredibly smart, but he’s also easy to manipulate because of it, and has a tendency to think he’s the only one who is correct. He’s somewhat self-righteous, and I often wanted to kick him off his high horse. All that made him seem like a real person, which is quite the feat.

“Alizayd fears he has already offended you,” Zaynab said as she led Nahri to a wooden pavilion that seemed to appear out of nowhere, perched over a clear pool. “I apologize. He has the unfortunate tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind.”

I was captivated by their story from start to finish, and found this novel has pretty much everything I want in a fantasy novel. It has a magical city, warriors, royalty, politics, action, magic, and more. I’m trying to review this book while saying as little as possible about it, because I think everyone will benefit from going into this pretty blind.


All in all, this was a fantastic novel. I can’t recommend it enough! If you somehow haven’t picked this series up yet, I urge you to change that right now. If you’re intimidated by the amount of pages, don’t be. I promise you’ll end up finishing it faster than you expected to. The City of Brass made me remember why I love fantasy so much, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that. I need to buy the sequel soon, so I can continue the series!