Daeva jokes aside, this book is good.
I haven’t read much in the way of Islamic or Middle Eastern folklore, whether it be the actual lore itself, or stories that use it as a springboard into whatever tale they wish to tell. It would seem that I have been remiss not to do so, because if The City of Brass is any indication, there is a lush and amazing history there, just waiting to be explored.
And that’s exactly what this book does, it drops you in 18th century Cairo, spends about five minutes there, and then shows you a whole new world (that was not meant to be an Aladdin pun/reference, but I’m gonna let it lie) which is intricate, magical and really just incredible.
Reading The City of Brass was equal parts surprising and delightful. Each character’s motivations were slowly revealed (and in many cases changed) as we learned more about Daevabad’s past and everyone’s relationship to that history. I think this is probably a very difficult trick for writers, but is always one of my favorites to see executed well (as it was here)
The last thing I’ll talk about is what prompted me to actually read this really fun book (so glad I did). I’m still reading through my prospective Hugo list, and one of the books on that list (The Empire of Gold) is the last book in the trilogy which City of Brass starts. To put this book into that context, The City of Brass was nominated for many awards when it came out back in 2017, including the:
World Fantasy Award: Best Novel
Locus Award: Best First Novel
British Fantasy Award: Best Newcomer
However, it somehow did not make the final list for the Hugo in 2018 (which I believe is the one it would be eligible for if it came out in 2017) Fun trivia though, the author supposedly missed the best new author finalist category by a single vote! Crazy.
Anyway, my immediate reaction was: How did it not make the list? But then when I looked at the 2018 Hugo list, I realized that it was up against very stiff competition. As good as this book was, I don’t know that it was better than The Stone Sky which ended up winning that year (Jemisin’s third Hugo win in three consecutive years. Boom hat trick).
Anyway, City of Brass is an all around excellent story, and I can’t wait to read the next one, The Kingdom of Copper.
Please feel free to let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments. See y’all next time!