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The City of Brass

Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy, Book 1
Length: 19 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (221 ratings)

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Summary

Discover this spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty.

Among the bustling markets of 18th century Cairo, the city's outcasts eke out a living swindling rich Ottoman nobles and foreign invaders alike.

But alongside this new world, the old stories linger. Tales of djinn and spirits. Of cities hidden among the swirling sands of the desert, full of enchantment, desire and riches. Where magic pours down every street, hanging in the air like dust.

Many wish their lives could be filled with such wonder, but not Nahri. She knows the trades she uses to get by are just tricks and sleights of hand: there's nothing magical about them. She wishes only to one day leave Cairo, but as the saying goes....

Be careful what you wish for.

©2018 S. A. Chakraborty (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

" The City of Brass is the best adult fantasy I've read since The Name of the Wind. It's stunning and complex and consuming and fantastic. You must read it." (Sabaa Tahir, New York Times best-selling author of An Ember in the Ashes)
"An extravagant feast of a book - spicy and bloody, dizzyingly magical, and still, somehow, utterly believable." (Laini Taylor, Sunday Times and New York Times best-selling author)
"A richly imagined, stunningly immersive book that takes you into a world. You will race to the end of this bold and brilliant debut." (Ausma Zehanat Khan, award-winning author of the The Bloodprint)
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City of Brass

Nahri is a con-woman on the streets of Cairo. She calls on ancient powers to "heal" her marks, playing on their weaknesses. Only, those powers are more real than she could have dreamt, and she is about to be dragged into the deceitful world of the Djinn.

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook, the narrator does an amazing job, and I couldn't wait for an excuse to listen to more.

The story follows Nahri, a woman in her early-twenties, who is living in Cairo in the 18th Century. She knows nothing of her family, and is just another orphan, that grew up on the streets of Cairo, making money where she can. She long to save up enough to get real medical training, and wants so much more from life.
There are a couple of odd things about her - that she can detect illness in people, and can sometimes wish it away. She can also understand every language, which gets her into trouble when she uses a mysterious language that lingers in her memory, and accidentally summons a Deava warrior.

The story really kicks off when Dara appears, and Nahri has to come to terms with magic and the djinn all being real. Oh, and that she is being chased by Ifrit (crazy fire spirits). Her only hope of survival, is to travel to the djinn city of Deavabad.

The plot keeps you guessing throughout, as it weaves together the stories of Nahri and Deavabad's Prince Ali, a young man with strong ideals on how the city should be. His morals are put to the test, when his loyalty to his family is tested, and he has to grow wise and try and see the bigger picture, and play the longer game.
Characters are pulled in and out of this story, sometimes in a brutal way, that is fantastically done.

I loved the whole style of this story. It is colourful, and enchanting, and wonderfully authentic!
I can't wait for the next book!

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Awesome!

A great start to a fantasy series. Setting the story in a fantastical North Africa feels fresh and the Nahri is a compelling character. Looking forward to book 2.

Narration was good.

The only downside is book 2 in the series has been released in other formats but no sign of a release on Audible, so you might be out of luck if you end enjoying this book.

3 people found this helpful

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Really good, can't wait for the sequel

A bit difficult to follow at the beginning (this might just be my fault as I struggled to keep track of names) , but we'll worth persevering with as the story and characters are great.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Annoying American accent

This is a story set in the east, either India or the Middle East, but the narrator had a strong American accent which totally didn't fit, also a whiny begging tone of voice which really affected my enjoyment of the book. I also didn't enjoy the story that much, somewhat difficult to follow all the different castes/types of people in an audiobook.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Great story but....

The audio narration is dreadful and really does not suit the book. The heavily accented American accent is awful! I continued to the end as it was for my book group otherwise wouldn’t have listened.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An absolutely amazing & unique piece of Literaure!

I had a great time reading/listening to such a nuanced depiction of both sides of a conflict, where there are no obvious good guys and bad guys. There is guilt, cruelties and righteousness on both sides. The political discussions/groups presented in this book are ones we can still recognise in today's climate. This is mainly seen through the characters, who are not just one-note stereotypes, but are fully fleshed out with ideals and flaws. The two leads, Nahri and Ali, are well written and intriguing characters. I could personally relate to Ali and his beliefs, being torn between doing what's right and what's expected by our families.

And the WORLD BUILDING!!!! Steeped in history and culture I found my self truly transported into Cairo, and the Palace in Daevabad. My only qualm was that we did not get to see more of the city of Daevabad and did not get to meet more people from the other tribes. Hoping the sequel rectifies this.

For those looking for a fast-paced, action-packed YA with a passionate love story, then this book ISN'T for you. But if you want to read something that would make you question your own beliefs on what's right, or see the unfolding consequences for the conquered vs the oppressed, or an intriguing view on court politics or even to just escape into a well- written world of magic and djinn, then this book is DEFINITELY for you.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Loved it

The world was incrediblely detailed and new, the narrator built it up brick by brick. I enjoyed actually knowing the pronunciation of all the place names, the tribes and names, instead of guessing while actually reading the book. The plot was well paced and action packed. I enjoyed both POV and loved the development of the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Just fine

I did not really care for this story. First I thought it was quite a good idea but it got boring fast. The love interests I could live without.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good just not great

I liked the politics but it took me half the book to really understand all the different jinn terms, types and alliances. Whilst a good story and well written my main problem was that I didn’t massively connect with any of the main characters given their biased views and prejudices, therefore was less excited about who was going to win out.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it.

Admittedly I first heard the phrase "City of Brass " in Uncharted 3. However upon reading(Listening) to this I now have a better understanding of Eastern myths and legends. I will definitely be investing in the rest of this trilogy.

On a final note, this book does not read like a rough edged debut novel but a captivating story that kept me hooked to the very end.

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  • Carolyn
  • 27-09-18

Fabulous characters and world-building and plot

It’s been a long time since I read a fantasy that felt new. This one does. The world feels real and consistent and magical, the characters are whole people with all that entails, and even the food is enticing. More, please!

1 person found this helpful

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  • lewis godsell
  • 06-03-20

Trope city

At best an average book. A weak and wushu washy main character, a love interest who treats her badly but who she worships anyway and a dull plot. The strong American accent of the narrator took me out of the middle eastern setting right from the start.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Silla
  • 01-11-19

Give it a chance past the first hour

The tale starts with a boringly predictable love interest growing. Several occasions of the reader being obviously hinted to know things before the unwitting characters finally find out, simple plot twists, etc. Both make the story seem like one more standard love triangle with magic, rags to riches tale without much interesting to offer.

Then we get to the second part of the tale with palace, family and heritage politics and much more interesting characters being introduced. This is where the story becomes worth its stars, unpredictability makes you interested to know what happens next. The aforementioned three elements of interest have long histories to twist and affect the tale, making it an enjoyable listen.

The performance is clear and emotional although strangely unfitting inflections are somewhat irritating.

All in all a recommended listen for easy entertainment.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • AKB
  • 02-06-19

Good story but the romance was overdone

The story and overall world were impressive and believable, so kudos to the author for that. From my perspective, the love triangle/quadrangle/quintangle was overdone, and for large part overwhelmed the rest of the story, to the point where major plot points were often ignored for hours on end (or more).

A good book, but more plot and less romantic angst please. Not sure I will be able to stomach a sequel if the balance stays as is.