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
When it comes to a sequel of a book I really love, it can be a bit of a concern whether the sequel will live up to the first instalment but I can firmly say, The Kingdom of Copper is an incredible follow up to The City of Brass as well as great in it’s own right. The vast majority of the novel is set five years after the events of the first, leaving our characters in completely different positions and irrevocably changed; Nahri married to Muntadhir in an astute political marriage, Ali exiled in the lands of Am Gezira and Dara seemingly dead.
The novel is split between the perspectives of Nahri, Ali and Dara which I think was such a good choice. Previously we didn’t get the chance to read through Daras perspective so through his chapters we get to understand him on a deeper level and grasp his inner conflict. I love Dara, he’s definitely one of my favourite characters so it was extra hard to read as he struggles between his desire for peace and the duties honour or loyalty demands of him as an Afshin. He has been made into a weapon for so long, that he doesn’t know how else to be and it was honestly heart wrenching reading the simple life he yearns for, yet seems just out of his reach. The small moment before he was resurrected in which he saw his sister Tamima was one of the saddest moments ever honestly.
As well as Daras perspective being a highlight for me, I also really loved the way Chakraborty took Nahri and Ali’s character arcs in this book. Nahri is still the strong willed and determined young woman we met in CoB but five years has changed a lot. For one, she is now married to Muntadhir and her every move is scrutinised by Ghassan, the cruel and unjust ruler of Daevabad. While her relationship with Muntadhir isn’t terrible by any means, Nahri is still desperately lonely in a city of strangers, with the exception of her mentor Nisreen and Jamshid, a fellow Daeva. Nahri has definitely grown as a character and become the embodiment of the Banu Nahida her tribe expects, while still retaining her individuality and morals. I enjoyed reading as she finds joy in healing her patients and advancing in her craft as well as delving deeper into Daevabads complex political world.
Ali’s perspective and chapters were some of my favourites in this novel, reading as he navigates his exile from his home and finding a new sense of purpose in Bir Nabat, as well as harnessing his powers was so interesting. I loved the exploration of how his experience with the marid affected him and how this has manifested with him having an affinity with water and being able to control it in various ways. These powers come in use when he revitalises the town of Bir Nabat, which is suffering from severe water shortage. The rebuilding of the town gives him a sense of purpose and fulfilment and along the way he finds two dear friends, Lubayd and Aqisa, and a life he is more or less content with. I also really appreciated that while his exile has changed his circumstances and mindset a little, he didn’t take a 180 and become unrecognisable. Ali is still the passionate, devout and compassionate character I really connected with in CoB and I think these qualities are strengthened and enhanced in this book.
In terms of the romance element, I also liked that despite Dara and Nahri being apart and absent in each others lives they still think about each other often and recall the fleeting moments they were able to share. The recollection of these moments are so sad and wistful, and it adds the touch of tragic romance and angst which I love but breaks my heart in equal measure. I mentioned in my review of The City of Brass how much I wished that Ali and Nahri would just stay friends and I still have hope that it won’t go down a romantic route BUT there was a lot more tension and attraction between them in KoC so it’s something I could see happening. I’m not entirely opposed to it but I’m more of a Dara / Nahri shipper, though I can’t see a happy ending for them anywhere on the horizon *cries*
Despite their being an undercurrent of romantic tension between Ali and Nahri, it’s their friendship and the understanding between them which I really admired. They’re on the same page, most of the time anyway, when it comes to equality between the tribes. In this book, this manifests in Nahri and Ali wanting to build a better future for all of Daevabad by constructing a hospital open to all tribes, including the Shafit. There’s something quietly powerful here about two idealistic young people working together to make a positive difference despite having to face so much adversity. I liked that they carried on despite it all and risked so much for what they believed in.
As well as the three main characters, in this novel we get to see a lot more of some of the secondary characters and they take much more of an active role in the events of the story. In particular, Muntadhir, Jamshid and Zaynab get more ‘page time’ and I really liked all three of them – for the most part anyway! There were times when Muntadhir got on my nerves and he was unnecessarily mean to Ali which hit me right in the heart, considering how close the siblings were in the first novel. Jamshid needs to be protected at all costs, I loved how we got to know him more in KoC and how much he respects and cares for Nahri too. Zaynab is so capable and deserves more credit, she is not just the spoilt princess she appears to be, she has both a sharp mind and such an enduring love for her brothers. I also loved the hesitant friendship between Nahri and Zaynab and I’d love to see more of this. I think they complimented each other quite well. I hope we get to see all three characters develop further in the final instalment of the trilogy.
While Chakraborty very successfully writes characters we love to love, she is equally skilled at writing characters I loved to hate. Ghassan is undoubtedly a villain, but what makes him scary is that he is an insidious villain. He has moments where he is a loving father and it seems like he wants nothing more than for his children (Ali, Muntadhir and Zaynab) to get along and live amicably. However, underneath he is a deeply cruel man who is manipulative and will do anything to stay in control of Daevabad and its citizens. On the flipside we have Manizheh who is a legendary Nahid, long believed to be dead and Nahris mother. While at first you think she has every right to be angry and is justified in her bid to reclaim Daevabad, eventually you realise she is just as twisted as Ghassan, they’re two sides of the same coin. Chakraborty highlights how the thirst for power and control can corrupt even the best of people and enables them to make decisions which are immoral for what they perceive to be the greater good.
I relished how politics plays such a massive part in the story. In some books this can be a bit boring or long winded for me but in the Daevabad trilogy the political intrigue and complexity is enthralling. Daevabad is home to a vast variety of tribes, but the central divide is between the Djinn and the Shafit. The shafit are the marginalised community in Daevabad who are discriminated against because they have a ‘mixed’ heritage with varying degrees of magical ability. In The Kingdom of Copper, the political tension is ramped up till you can literally feel it crackling off every page, and it feels like danger and revolution is around every corner. Furthermore, I think what makes the politics so impactful is the fact that it’s so resonant and sinister, the way the Shafits are kept down and subdued is not dissimilar from elements of real history.
I have to mention how superb and suspenseful the last 50 or so pages were, it was just relentless action and I loved it. You didn’t know where it would go or what would happen but I was along for the ride and it was such an intense reading experience. I cried, was gasping and shocked in rapid succession and the slow build up of the rest of the book makes for a satisfying climax. While some threads are left unresolved, I have no doubt they’ll be picked up in the next book so I can’t wait to see the fates of some of the characters as well as what that massive bombshell that happened will mean for Daevabad and our heroes.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Kingdom of Copper and would definitely recommend it to lovers of fantasy, political intrigue and loveable and complex characters. I can’t believe we have to wait till next year sometime for the final book in the trilogy, entitled Empire of Gold but if the first two books are anything to go by, it will definitely be worth the wait.
Until next time,