THE KINGDOM OF COPPER
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager, 2019
Series: The Daevabad Series
Format: Paperback, 625 pages
Back Cover Blurb
Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid the unpredictable water spirits have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.
What I Thought
I can sum my reading experience of this amazing novel up in one word: “OUTSTANDING!”
Truly this is the best fantasy novel I’ve read since, oh, wait… The City of Brass! But seriously, how do I encapsulate the two-day roller coaster ride of emotions I’ve just had? How do I find the right words to describe something that is, in all essence, for me at least, an “experience” and a very emotional one at that!
Chakraborty has not only out done herself in this follow up to The City of Brass, she’s captured lightning in a bottle, a second time!
Those who have already read the first installment of Nahri’s journey know that Chakraborty’s world building is so thoroughly immersive, you feel like you could book a PanAm ticket to go there, for a holiday. Not that I’m advising too many people to go sightseeing in Daevabad, especially after the events that have taken place in The Kingdom of Copper.
No one wants to share a tour guide of this fabled city with the walking un-dead, ghouls, and their Ifrit masters! Hell, no. But this is how well done the world building is, you feel how alive the city is. You can smell it. You can taste it, and you can hear the sounds of this bustling metropolis. Even feel the vibrant magic that pervades the very fabric of life sizzles with electricity.
And while the city of Daevabad is alive with sights and sounds, it’s the characters who really bring the story to life. Chakraborty’s three MCs are so finely drawn it’s easy to believe they are as real as the city itself. Nahri, Dara and Ali have evolved, as events have conspired to change them. We can see how much so as The Kingdom of Copper unfolds.
Each protagonist is going through their own set of trials and tribulations as seen in alternating chapters, all literally fighting to stay alive. We see Ali (Alizayd al Qahtani) exiled and now living in a tiny drought-ridden hamlet, Bir Nabat—where he’s about to find out more about his new ‘magical’ abilities thanks to his possession by the Marid. Ali struggles with his warring loyalties.
And Dara … the much maligned Darayavahoush. Oh how I feel for him and what he’s gone through already. This Daeva’s journey has been to hell and back, and now he’s once again being asked to go back down into it’s depths, by Manizheh, Nahri’s mother—all the while believing what he’s doing is right, and for the best. But at what cost to those around him, and at what cost to his soul? He’s definitely a character with the weight of ‘history’ on his shoulders.
While Nahri? Pragmatist that she is, is waging a brutal cold war in a battle of wits, staving off palace politics, and staying ahead of everyone’s twisted schemes and scheming all the while, a virtual prisoner in the Infirmary. The only bright moments in her struggles coming from Nisreen and Jamshid. While everyone hides their secrets in the shadows. She fights to uncover slivers of truth, where she can, when she can. But will she find answers before it’s too late, and can she finally get Muntadhir on her side?
The politics and the intrigue are reflective of what’s happening in today’s society, in the real world. The two mirrored in so many ways, and on so many levels, you cannot fail to see the comparisons, and nod your head, sadly.
Racism is alive and well in the dark opulence of Daevabad, and it’s eating away at the foundations of the magical city.
There are moments of brief joy, moments of heartbreak and sadness. Moments of intrigue and brutality that leave you agog, and wide-eyed. Moments where you think surely Ghassan couldn’t be any more of a tyrant than he already is. And moments where you are yelling at the characters, imploring them not to go down that path, hoping against hope.
It’s the complexity of the character’s decisions that makes this story so compelling!
There are so many layers to the overall plot, and to everyone’s individual story, that’s it’s impossible to separate the strands. So densely packed and tightly woven is the premise, you are sucked in for the entire heartbreaking ride, from beginning to end. Where, believe me, I was left staring at the page mouthing one word at the very end: NO!
But that’s for you to find out for yourself.
Chakraborty uses her characters to their limit and then some, almost to breaking point, to tell a story so full of depth and nuance you cannot fail to be emotionally invested, and wrapped up in what’s happening to each and every character. Even the secondary characters all have lives of their own, and no story could be told without a complete and full-fleshed out ensemble, as The Kingdom of Copper has.
I read the entire 609 pages in two days of fevered reading. And I have to say, that at the end, flipping pages frantically trying to keep up with the heartbreaking events, I had a knot in my chest, and a lump in my throat.
To sum up, THE KINGDOM OF COPPER is a deeply immersive and layered read, full of emotion and yes, plenty of heartbreak, with a plot that twists and turns right up till the very last sentence, when you suddenly realise the truth. And just what that means for the cast of characters, and what’s yet to come.
Outstanding on every level, this is a must read even if you are not a big fan of fantasy. The world-building, storytelling and sheer depth of detail in this series will become a standard by which all others will be compared.