The Kingdom of Copper
by S.A Chakraborty
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.
Check out my review of The City of Brass!
The City of Brass ended with a bang, but this novel ended with a kaboom. I can’t believe I have to wait until June for the final instalment in this trilogy!
I enjoyed The Kingdom of Copper even more than I enjoyed The City of Brass. Chakraborty’s world-building is fantastic, and she writes political intrigue so well that it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if she were to reveal she grew up in a fantastical royal court herself.
This book picks up around five years after the events of The City of Brass, and Nahri, who’s been trying to survive amidst her enemies at Daevabad’s royal court as the wife of the future king, finds herself having to work with Ali again, now her brother-in-law, when he returns from banishment. The two of them are trying to stop Daevabad from tearing itself apart when there are so many different races and religions constantly at war with another, often at the expense of the most vulnerable people in the city.
Ultimately, this book asks the question: is Daevabad even worth saving? Can any city recover when its entire history is layer after layer of one faction of djinn oppressing the others?
What I love about this series is that Chakraborty doesn’t let anyone, or anyone’s beliefs, be wholly good or wholly bad. Everyone, even the protagonists, get called out on their bullshit, and it makes for an incredibly believable historical fantasy where the stakes feel real.
I still absolutely adore Ali. He’s still my favourite character in this series, and possibly one of my favourite characters in fantasy. He’s not at all perfect – like a lot of the other djinn, he has prejudices that he needs to overcome – but his struggle between doing what his family wants vs. doing what he believes to be right and just is the kind of story arc I love to follow. His relationship with his siblings is wonderful, it was great to see more of Zaynab in this book and their mother who is a boss, and I love his friendship with new characters Lubayd and Aqisa.
Aqisa, in particular, is someone I’d like to see a lot more of. I love her. We also meet shafit doctor Subha Sen, and I hope we see a lot more of her in the next book, too.
I’m pleased to say Nahri and Dara grew on me a lot more in this book. I still don’t know that I’ve quite ‘got’ Nahri; I’m always waiting for her to be the con artist I was promised in the blurb of The City of Brass, and while we certainly see her being a lot sneakier in this book I still find it difficult to match up Nahri the con artist with Nahri the doctor. Unlike The City of Brass, though, I could believe Nahri’s desire to be a doctor a lot more in this book, and she had a lot of moments that made me cheer for her.
Dara, on the other hand, I think is a great character. I still don’t like him, though, and I find it odd that so many people ship him with Nahri. He was disgusted with his attraction to her when he believed she was a shafit, and I have no interest in shipping a romantic couple where one half believes the other to be genetically lesser. Ew.
In this book I certainly understood Dara more, I even felt sorry for him at times, but I didn’t like him. I don’t know if we’re supposed to, I think the beauty of this series is that Chakraborty leaves that up to us, but whenever Dara’s on the page I feel like I’m watching him make the same mistakes over and over and over again and never learning from them, and it’s frustrating. Especially when he starts pulling out his ‘woe is me’ card.
That said, I’m not a fan of the potential budding romance between Ali and Nahri either. Considering Nahri has been used and abused by the djinn ever since she summoned Dara in the first book, I’d love to see her end this series single. I don’t want her to be lonely, but I love her and Ali’s friendship and I really hope their relationship doesn’t take a romantic turn in the next book. Let women and men just be friends, please.
Whatever happens in the next book, I can’t wait to read it. The ending of The Kingdom of Copper was nothing short of explosive, and I was so enamoured by the last few chapters that I very nearly missed my stop on the bus home from work. It’s lush, complex fantasy, and I loved it.