Book Review

The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper

  • Author: S.A. Chakraborty
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: January 22, 2019
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #2

CONTENT WARNING: murder, violence, mention of slavery, gore, excessive alcohol use, infidelity, gun violence, death of children

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked away from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal courts of Daevabad — and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. 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 and adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he must rely on the frightening abilities the marid — the unpredictable water sprites — have gifted him. But in doing so, he risks unearthing 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 a great celebration, 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 caught between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

I seriously adored reading The City of Brass (see my review here), so I obviously knew I had to get my hands on this book as soon as possible. However, once I did, I sat with this book on my shelf until I couldn’t renew it any more times through my library for some reason. Does anyone else do this, or is it just me? I think part of the reason was because I wanted to prolong my enjoyment of the series, and another part was because I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the incredible memories I had of the first book. However, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

Within the first few pages of the book, I felt like I had stepped right into a doorway that transported me back to this magical world of flying carpets and djinn, complete with political intrigue and characters that I couldn’t help but love. The descriptive writing made me feel as though I was also in Daevabad, rather than just reading about it.

“But this ship was nothing like any of those. It looked large enough to fit hundreds, its dark teak dazzling in the sunlight as it floated lightly on the lake. Teal banners adorned with the icons of studded golden pyramids and starry silver salt tablets flew from the masts. Its many amber-colored sails — and Nahri counted at least a dozen — dwarfed the glimmering decks. Segmented and ribs, the sails looked more like wings than anything that belonged on a boat, and they shivered and undulated in the wind like living things.”

The story is told from the POV of the three main characters, Nahri, Ali, and Dara, and after the prologue, it picks up 5 years after the events in book 1. For the majority of the book, the characters aren’t engaged with each other, and deal with their own struggles, but the entire book was building up to a major climax. And when it happened, I still wasn’t prepared.

Each of the characters have their own flaws, and they’re so morally gray (although Ali isn’t morally gray so much as rigidly upstanding), but also so endearing that I wanted to see them each wind up happy, even though each of them is trapped in circumstances beyond their control. I honestly didn’t see a way for any of them to get out of their individual situations, but I still hoped. 

Nahri’s still a character that is amazing. She’s smart, strong, and tough, even in a place that doesn’t feel like home, isn’t safe, and where she is surrounded by people she can’t trust. And being alone for so long is causing her to question herself, even as she’s forced to become a pawn in the political maneuverings in the royal family of Daevabad. Her character arc is definitely one of the most striking in this series.

“Nahri had once quietly feared that it was her, that growing up alone on Cairo’s streets with abilities that terrified everyone had broken her, shaped her into a person who didn’t know how to forge a genuine bond.”

Ali changes a little less throughout the series, but he grew a lot in this book. His whole life changed as a result of the events in the first book, and there’s something about him that just drew me in. He’s a major player in the book, and I respect his courage to stand up for his values, no matter how difficult that is.

Dara is the other piece of the puzzle. I truly empathized with his struggle. All he wants is peace and to be free, but he’s forced into a life of service. He wanted to do something different, but wasn’t able to. It made it even more clear that rather than being seen as a person, he’s viewed as a weapon instead, and he’s really starting to resent that role. Hopefully, he’s realizing that only Nahri ever saw him differently.

The story weaves a variety of plot threads together to create a stunning tapestry, combining character arcs, politics, romance, emotions, intrigue, surprising plot twists, and elements drawn from a range of cultures. I was hooked immediately and couldn’t stop reading. I’m planning to get my hands on the next book soon, and I have already promised myself that I won’t wait long before starting it.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 28

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