ARC Review – Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty.

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

Review!

I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review and can confirm all opinions are my own. This review will contain spoilers for the first two books!

Empire of Gold picks up minutes after the ending of The Kingdom of Copper. Banu Manizheh and Dara have taken Daevabad, Muntadhir is alive and imprisoned and Nahri and Ali have somehow been transported to Cairo. Nahri, at first afraid of what would await her in her old haunting ground, finds comfort in the human world. Knowing what is awaiting her if she returns to Daevabad, a mother who tried to kill her and the man she thought she loved who betrayed her, she is reluctant to return. It is only when Ali chooses to leave by himself that Nahri realises that she can’t and doesn’t want to let him risk his life alone. On their journey back to their home they make enemies and find the unlikeliest of allies. They will need all the help they can get if they are to take back the city they both love, even if it means killing those they love in the process.

I can honestly say that this is one of the best endings to a trilogy I have ever read. The author took her time, there was no rushing, trying to make the characters come to realisations before they should. It was brilliantly paced and even though I wanted to fly thought it, I had to take my time, reading bit by bit, taking pleasure in every chapter, knowing this was likely the last time I would have the pleasure to enter this magical world.

Nahri became a favourite character of mine from her first introduction in City of Brass, and my love for her has only grown over the books. Despite being out of her depth in a world full of magical beings she could only dreamed of existing, she falls into the roll of Banu Nahri with an ease, while never loosing the essence of who she is. She fights for the rights of all, no matter their station and is willing to put up a fight, and trust me she fights dirty, if that is what it takes. She is an amazingly complex character, fighting against the things she wants because she believe she doesn’t deserve them.

Ali, my little cinnamon roll, does not quite know how his life turned out this way. He keeps his feelings for the Banu Nahri deep down, knowing that showing them will do him no good whilst she is married to his brother. He feels greatly changed now that he has started to embrace the Narid power that flows through him and feels like he is not worthy, not of the crown, of his life or of Nahri’s love. His character growth in Empire of Gold is truly impressive and I loved seeing him embrace himself as whole, good and bad.

Dara, poor poor Dara. I think the only good choice that man ever made was loving Nahri. But now, under Banu Manizheh’s control that bit of him has to stay silent. He may not agree with everything she does, but he is hers to command. It is only when Banu Manizheh starts unravelling that Dara realises he may have been on the wrong side of this fight all along. I love him so much and his parts in Empire of Gold were so heartbreaking. He is doing what he believes is the right thing, what he is supposed to do and seeing his inner turmoil and some of the decisions the Banu made had me heartbroken.

Talk about twists and turns, this book had plenty of them. Everything gets tied up in a neat bow at the end, but there are plenty of revelations throughout this book that I really struggled to find good places to stop reading. I would finish a chapter and just be like:

And I had to instantly dive into the next chapter. In fact it was pretty much just work and sleep that kept me from reading. When I say things get wrapped up, I don’t want you to think its an easy journey, there is more than enough heartbreak and Chakraborty managed to give us everything we didn’t realise we needed, without having to change anything about the characters. She kept them true to their former selves and the story true to the rest of the trilogy.

Chakrabortys writing style and world building is something that every author should hope to attain. To say that this is her first series is kind of mind blowing. We get to travel to previously unseen parts of her world, and her descriptive writing has you there, right along side the characters. I know I say this a lot but this book is immersive in all the best ways, I defy you to not bond with the characters so wholly that you feel their pain, their triumphs and their losses. Parts had me in tears, others in laughter and some parts gave me heartache. Even though they don’t always have the best decision making, and can sometimes run into danger headfirst (yes Nahri I’m talking to you) you embrace it all and honestly, I would follow these characters to the ends of the earth.

The Daevabad series has made me a life long fan and I will be eagerly awaiting anything else Chakraborty graces us with. This was a spectacular read, and you know that because its taken me over a week to manage to semi-coherently write down my thoughts and that never happens. I love everything about this series from the characters to the world she builds and I will certainly be re-visiting from time to time.

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