Fantasy, Low Fantasy
The Daevabad Trilogy, Book # 1
November 14th 2017
March 18, 2020 March 25, 2020
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.
But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass?a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.
In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.
After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for.
About the book
Nahri, lives in Egypt in the 18th century and survives with thefts and scams against the wealthiest and French soldiers. In addition to this, she practices exorcisms and it is one of these that goes wrong and that makes the story begin. She also helps people to heal, because she is able to “feel” a disease, and learn languages easily. Above all, she speaks a language that she has never studied and which is not spoken in Egypt, so she believes to be the language of her ancestors. In fact, she is an orphan and doesn’t know her origins. One evening, after one of her exorcisms, the girl is attacked by an Ifrit who has taken possession of the girl to whom she has practised the exorcism. She is saved by Dara, who then reveals that she is the one who invoked him and that she is a “half human, half djinn” of an ancient family of healers now extinct. Dara explains why these Ifrits are trying to kill her and to protect her he must take her to the City of Brass.
The story then moves to Daevabad, a mysterious city hidden from human eyes, where Nahri will find herself involved in the politics of the city.
What I think
The world created by the author is very beautiful and interesting, the Arabic feels are the ones that brought me closer to the book, but unfortunately I didn’t like the plot until the end and we will discuss it later in the “spoiler” part.
The world of the djinn is very particular, we learn a lot about this world in the first part of the book. There isn’t only one type of djinn, but there are more tribes, six, and Dara is part of the daevas. Then there are the shafits, half human and half djinn, who live in inhuman conditions in contrast to the djinns who now live in luxury. I must say that the story behind this world is very interesting, how the djinn were born, what they are afraid of, the city of Daevabad which is built of brass, everything is very interesting as well as Dara’s character and also Nahri’s powers. As well as all the legends narrated both of Nahri’s people, and of the other tribes of the city, of Suleiman (Solomon) and its role in this world.
Obviously there are still many questions such as who Dara is or even who Nahri is, questions that will be answered in the following books, but alas I will not continue with the series. The ending disappointed me too much (but obviously I can’t say why here).
The beginning is too slow, it takes Nahri half a book to get to Daevadbad! At some point I thought they would arrive in the city at the end of the book and that the story would continue in the second volume. And then there is no plot, it is only a mix of information and legends, about what people thought a thousand years ago happened according to history books, without asking who lived a thousand years ago (Dara) what really happened.
But here the contradiction, which is my middle name. Because the beginning is a bit slow, but nevertheless I liked the stories and legends that are told in the first chapters. But after that there is no plot.
The tale has two narrators, Alizayd, Ali, the cadet son of the king and Nahri. I like how the author mixes the two narratives and the two points of view.
Conclusion no spoilers
I liked the 85% the book, the journey that Dara and Nahri take, the legends narrated, I also liked all the conspiracies. Only the end has disappointed me. But I recommend it because the world created is very interesting.
As always, read if you have read the book. I discuss the end WITH SPOILER.
What I didn’t like is that at the beginning this strong character who survived the streets of Cairo is introduced, but then Nahri is dazed by those who defeated her race and who stole her throne. I thought she had more “balls”, but no! she’s the usual female figure reduced to obey and that’s it. And I know there is another book (two) and that Nahri now treats the king as if he were another character who must be taken advantage of, but I don’t like this. And don’t get me started on her marriage to the king’s first child. And apparently from the plot of the second book, time passes between this book and the next and I hate with all of myself when this happens. No, a book in which I want to choke the protagonist 4 times out of 5 is not for me.
Is Dara good or bad? I know there isn’t always a clear distinction, but I hate it when authors introduce a character as good or who has become good and then all of a sudden he goes crazy and looks like the devil on earth. But not only this. It seems that Nahri is in love with him, but what does she do? Marry another. What a great love eh! I know she’s almost forced, but that’s what makes me say, no, thank you very much, I pass, because I don’t want to read about a woman who was free until two days before, she is forced to marry for political subterfuge against her race and that then maybe she also falls in love with her husband (I don’t know, I’m just speculating here). Also because it seems that Dara is returning, he had to put up with Nahri who was making flirty eyes to Ali, the brother of her future husband, now he must also put up with the firstborn who won? No thanks, my palpitations (in a bad way) were already rising during the quarrel at the brothel. Also no. And among other things, it seems that Muntadhir, the eldest son, is one who sleeps with all his father’s servants, is bi and has a thing for his best male friend. So I don’t like when an author introduces the characters and then changes them, makes us love these characters and therefore we would like every good for them, but then he turns them upside down and therefore we would like to kill them. It seems a joke to me.
Conclusion with spoilers
So in conclusion, the world narrated by the author is very fascinating, but the plot given to the protagonist at the end of the book makes me move away from the series because I don’t want to read about these things.
And maybe I’m so disappointed because I had high expectations for this book that leaving aside the initial slowness, everything was fine until the end when Dara went crazy.