Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Release Day Review of The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty

Title: The Empire of Gold
Classification: New Adult (between YA and Adult)
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy (Book 3)
Format: Hardcover; 784 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (June 30, 2020)
ISBN-10: 0062678167
ISBN-13: 978-0062678164
Author's Website: http://www.sachakraborty.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes need to be checked against the final version as they are subject to change.

At first glance, Nahir appears to be an average girl. Take a second glance, and you will probably notice her eyes--they're unnaturally black. If you take the time to take a closer look, however, and really see her, you'll notice there is nothing average or ordinary about her.

Nahir lived on the streets of Cairo from the age of five speaking a language no one else knew or had ever heard. She didn't remember much about her parents or where they hailed from. Living on the streets, she survived anyway she could. She could smell a con from a mile away because she'd used most of them. Six years ago, however, everything changed. While attempting to hold a zar, a traditional ceremony meant to deal with djinn possession, she decided to sing one of the songs in her native tongue (thinking it would sound unusual and eerie) when a disembodied voice responded to  her in that same language--the one no one else had ever known. 

Since that fateful day, her life has been caught up in a series of twists and turns, ups and downs, and life altering decisions. She'd been whisked away to a magical hidden world and discovered djinn, magic, and wonderfully terrifying magical creatures she could never have conceived of were real. She also learned she was somehow a part of it all.

Now, just as Daevabad, the magical city Nahir had been spirited away to, finds itself in the middle of civil unrest, she finds herself back in Cairo faced with another life altering decision--should she stay or should she go back? Yet, the decision is not entirely hers alone. Somehow she and Ali, the djinn prince, were transported to Cairo together, and Ali is not doing all that well.

"Do you know how many times I've had to do this? Forget healing; my specialty should be having my life destroyed and then being forced to rebuild from nothing." (...)

"I'm so tired," she said, her voice cracking. 

"Everything I build gets broken. My life in Cairo. My dreams for Daevabad. I give everything--everything--I have. Only for someone to come along and smash it. It's all for nothing. Nothing."
This is the third and final book in the Daevabad Trilogy, and I am very sad to see this tale end. If you haven't read any of the previous books do not start with this one.  It begins where the last book left off, and the events in each book build upon those in the last. If you don't read the previous books, you'll find yourself utterly lost and won't enjoy the tale as much as you should. That said, I always worry that when the last book in a series comes out that it won't keep up with the momentum and bookish goodness of the previous books before it. I am happy to say this one passed the test and delivered a wonderful and magically delicious ending. I absolutely loved it. While I tried to devour this one in one sitting, it boasts nearly 800 pages, sadly I had to take some time to sleep before continuing through to the end of the saga. If you can manage to hold out to the end, however, your sacrifice will be well worth it.

It's been six years since Nahri was whisked away to Daevabad, and a lot has happened. Her skills as a healer have become stronger, she's gained friends and family, but could it be her forever home? Orphaned at an early age and living off the streets in Cairo she'd never truly felt she fit in anywhere, but Daevabad has been the closest she's ever come. Not all she's experienced in Daevabad has been pleasant. She's been lied to, betrayed, used as a pawn, but she's also grown in so many ways. She's stronger and wiser than when she first arrived, and now, she finally has the chance to decide her own fate. She'll have to do it, however, without her magical healing abilities. For whatever reason, magic is gone, and she and Ali will have to survive using nothing but their wits and resourcefulness. If they decide to return to Daevabad, they'll have to travel halfway around the world just as regular humans would. There will be no shortcuts. 

There is no doubt that the kingdom of Daevabad is in trouble with Manizheh vying to be the kingdom's next ruler. Nahri and Ali have been granted a reprieve from the chaos, but eventually Ali, if not both of them, will need to return. What I liked about the situation in Daevabad is that it mimics life. Someone can seem like they'd be the perfect leader, but until they come into power you truly don't know how they'll handle things. They may have a hidden agenda that will be revealed only after they take control. Promises may be broken. Still, people will follow them because they won't believe the person they believed in is capable of doing whatever it is they do. Some will never be able to wrap their head around it. The story also captures the complex emotions that motivate people to do things they'd never think themselves capable of doing whether that be for the better good or bad. I must say I enjoyed the contrast between Nahri and Manizheh. They found themselves in somewhat similar situations, but handled themselves in very different ways. In many ways I felt they were two halves of the same coin, but, oh, how their perceptions on things varied.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. The story started out slow and steady, but consistently gained momentum like a wave until it crested then everything came crashing down. The world building was phenomenal. I felt like I'd stepped into another world that I didn't want to leave. The characters were relatable, complex, and multidimensional. Twists and turns were thrown at you from all directions keeping things interesting and ensnaring the reader under the tale's beguiling spell. If you're looking for a story to escape reality for just a little while, this may just be the trilogy for you. I absolutely loved it, and HIGHLY recommend it. While there is a little romance in this novel, it is not the focus of the story, therefore, I'm forgoing my romance rating on this one. Did I mention I loved this one? lol Definitely in my top 10, maybe even 5 trilogies/series. If you're wondering--Yes, I ended up buying this one. I couldn't help myself. The Daevabad Trilogy is definitely a keeper that would make for an excellent book club discussion.

Order of the Daevabad trilogy:

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