The Empire of Gold
- Author: S.A. Chakraborty
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: June 30, 2020
- Publisher: Harper Voyager
- Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #3
CONTENT WARNING: torture, genocide, blood, gore, gun violence, death, violence, slavery, mention of rape
Daevabad has fallen.
After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic. Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.
But the bloodletting and the loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.
Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind in Daevabad and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and he is determined to rescue his city and remaining family. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected, threatening not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.
As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved … and take a stand for those they once hurt.
This series has been absolutely amazing, and after finishing it, I’m both completely fulfilled and sad to see it come to a close. All in all, it was a great ending to the trilogy, although I’m hoping to see more come from the author.
The world-building continues to be absolutely incredible. This book ranges farther than the previous ones, allowing us to see even more of the wonders in this world. From the human streets of Cairo to Daevabad to other areas of the djinn world and even into the lands of the elementals, they’re all portrayed so beautifully and richly that I could feel as though I was right there with the characters with no effort on my part.
“The water arched around him like a tunnel, marshy roots and submerged trees stretching to hold up a glittering canopy of refracted celestial light, glimmering droplets, and dappled green lily pads. Fish and turtles swam past, the silvery whites of their bellies flickering like candles.”
Another area where this book really shines is the characters. They’re each so thoroughly created, realistic, and flawed, while the majority still retain that sense of lovability. It didn’t escape my notice that the major power players in this book were all female, while the male characters played supporting roles. Manizheh, Nahri, and Hatset were the strong women pulling the strings, and even though their motivations were very different, I loved that they found ways to reclaim power that had been denied to them.
I’ve loved Nahri from page 1 of book 1. She’s tough, smart, and not afraid to be who she is. However, her past has left her with no shortage of trauma, and she’s scared to get close to anyone. I can’t say I blame her. Fortunately, growing up in the human world has left her uniquely positioned to do well in a world where magic has disappeared. As usual, though, she’s forced to make some difficult decisions to save the world that she loves.
“Nahri had sworn never to be a pawn again, and yet here she was … forced to serve another master in order to save the people she loved.”
Ali has really grown on me over the course of the series. He’s begun to loosen up … slightly. His world has been turned upside down, and everything he ever believed changes in this book. He finds himself trapped in Cairo without magic, and there’s a slow-burn romance that builds throughout the book between him and Nahri. Even as he learns how to adjust his entire worldview, some things never change. Namely, his steadfast morals and his incredible lack of timing:
“‘Creator, it’s like you’re in a competition with yourself over picking the worst time to say something.’”
I seriously struggled with Dara throughout this book. I honestly felt for him in earlier books, but had a complete lack of empathy for him in the first half of the book. By the time he realized he was in a mess, he was too deep to get himself out of it. At that point, I found a little more compassion towards him. His POV chapters also gave us some more insight into what was going on with Manizheh. She was hard not to hate, although her history made it clear what made her the way she turned out to be.
“Dara was so sick of despairing over his fate, of guilt eating him alive. Now he was just furious. Furious at being used, at letting himself be used again and again.”
The pacing wasn’t consistent during this book. The first two parts were super slow. I kept plodding through them, trusting that things would speed up. And when they did, WOW! The action kicked off, and things started moving very quickly, so that the last 2 parts of the book flew by. I’m absolutely a Chakraborty fan for life, and will be eagerly awaiting her next project, regardless of what it is.
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: 24
Categories: Book Review