An Opinion Regarding City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty was my first fantasy book with Muslim rep. I had been anticipating this book for so long that something similar to fear seized me upon picking it up. Believe it or not, something could be far better without an excessive standard to measure up to. That being said, I suppose this book would do if I had not been a little too expectant in the beginning.

City of Brass follows the story of a con artist living alone in Cairo named Nahri. Nahri has never believed in magic, but, thanks to her unique ability to sense diseases and heal them, always pretends to do so in order to survive. One day, when she's supposed to fake a zar ceremony to lift a demon out of a little girl called Baseema, she unintentionally summons a mysterious Djinn named Dara. Dara tells her that there's a city full of Daevas like her ancestors called Daevabad, the famous city of brass. He promises to take Nahri there as it's the only place free of ifrits. But later, Nahri finds out that there are pieces of his past Dara doesn't wish to share; a dangerous court full of politics including King Ghassan and his two sons: Muntadhir the emir and Alizayd the second son who's rumored to have a soft heart towards the Shafit, a half-human half-djinn creature; and old resentments between the tribes.

This book had a very intricate world-building, I admit. It was very well-built and complex, a very easy one to get lost in. While Daevabad's description made me want to visit the place myself (despite the fact that no human could go there) and witness the magic, the creatures in City of Brass were also pretty new to me so exploring them had been an exciting experience. But honestly, I still couldn't point out the difference between Djinn and Daeva. Maybe I didn't pay enough attention (though I sincerely hope that's not the case), but if I recall correctly, some passages hinted that both of them were the same, while the others showed how some Daevas would be openly offended if mistaken as Djins and it went both ways. A mental note to learn more about it has already been made though, no worries.

Because of the complexity of both the world and the creatures, it's not strange that I had needed quite a while to adjust myself to this book. With a pretty slow pace and many unfamiliar terms, the first few chapters were rather challenging to go through. But I thought it was all worth it. Nahri especially made the story fun with her witty and headstrong character. I liked her the most in this book, followed by her time bonding with Ali through studying and books in the second place. It would have been more lovely to me if the two could meet faster instead of halfway through the story.

But you see, the last 20% wasn't as charming as the earlier parts in my opinion. I felt like most of the interesting tales were told instead of showed. I mean, I do realize that it's hard to show someone's past in a book. I still thought there were a little bit too many tellings here, however. Meanwhile, I admittedly found it hard to care about the characters in the last few chapters also. A few of them pretty much went downhill during the story peak, while some parts just didn't quite add up to me, though I'm going to give it a benefit of the doubt by still continuing this trilogy.

Well, it's certainly quite an unpopular opinion considering this book is deeply beloved by many. Overall, City of Brass was quite enjoyable even though I can't deny that it felt like it lacked something quite important. I honestly felt bad for not liking this book after my initial confidence in it. But like I’ve said earlier, I'm still going to read the next installment, so finger-crossed it will be even better than its prequel.

Actual rating: 3