Women in SFF Readalong: Week 4

It’s the end! This has been a really fun read along, with some great conversations over on the Discord that Nils and Beth over at The Fantasy Hive created for it. My overall thoughts on The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty are a bit of a muddle – it was quite a slow-going first half, and the intrigue was enough to keep me going but not quite the right amount to have me stay up late reading. But once all the characters came together geographically, things became a lot more interesting for me, and this culmination was satisfying (if somewhat confusing) to read! You can see what my thoughts were for Week One, for Week Two, and for Week Three. Needless to say, my thoughts on this last section will include spoilers for the entire book, so please don’t read on if you don’t want to know!

What an ending! I don’t know about you, but we’re reeling. What are your feelings on reaching the end?

It’s all a bit jumbled – there were a few things that I’d predicted and was quite happy to be proven right, but so many surprises were thrown at us in those last chapters that I’m not even sure I understand the implications of all of them! I’m feeling a little underwhelmed, possibly because I would have preferred to have everything build up a bit sooner, but I’m also very happy that there was such an explosive ending to what I felt was a slow-to-start plot.

There were quite a few surprises in this culmination – what came as the biggest revelation to you?

Well…. if I hadn’t seen the Discord messages about Jamshid’s reveal of being a Nahid that probably would have been the biggest surprise but alas for spoilers! Luckily, I’m not too fussed about spoilers and it won’t take away my enjoyment of a story! Other than that, I think the marid’s involvement was the main revelation I didn’t see coming, but that I’m also the most intrigued about, because I was wondering what exactly they were and whether any other creatures other than the daeva/djinn would come into play. Things that didn’t come as a surprise were the fact that Nahri isn’t actually a pureblood, and that the king had been using that story for his own ends, and the fact that her mother is still alive. You don’t mention a parent killed under mysterious circumstances for nothing!

Do you have any theories on Dara at this point?

Ah man, poor Dara! I think he might still be a slave, but somehow became linked to Nahri, possibly by her mother or the ifrit, or both working together. There’s definitely the mystery surrounding his return, and it seemed to have happened around the time Nahri’s mother “disappeared”. The whole thing is very weird though, and I just feel sorry for him, especially hearing the king talk about his infamous massacre as a young daeva. It seems that the Nahids have just used him, even if he does genuinely believe in them.

Last week, Suzy suggested in our Discord chat that Nisreen is untrustworthy. Do you think she may have been deliberately sabotaging Nahri in the infirmary?

It’s hard to tell. Her outburst at Nahri, warning her of the king’s intentions, seemed genuine, but we can see from the epilogue that she’s not all that she seems, and is definitely keeping things hidden from Nahri. So, deliberately sabotaging? No, I don’t think so. At least not to harm Nahri, maybe to keep her safe somehow, to keep people from realising her power. But I didn’t trust her either, so good instinct Suzy!

Nahri has the worst taste in men. But it was kind of heart-breaking to see her torn between her love for Dara and her friendship for Ali. How do we feel about the love triangle that’s developing here? And who are we shipping, Dara & Nahri or Ali & Nahri?

*eyeroll* I can’t be doing another love triangle, I’ve said it in all my previous posts! But I do absolutely love Nahri and Ali’s friendship, and I hope they manage to find each other again in the next book, and based on the way they match each other I’d be more inclined to go for a Nahri & Ali relationship. I do like the brooding, rebellious Dara in theory, but he’s just so much trouble, isn’t he? He’s the reason things escalated so far at the end of the book! Well, partly… and that’s what’s caused Nahri so much pain when she was just finding her footing in Daevabad.

Ok, but what is going on with Ali? Theories?

Good question! This is definitely the most confusing plot twist of The City of Brass! He’s got some affinity to water, but I think that was already there before he fell into the Lake. We see the flashback he has of making the water dance as a child, and the way water heals his wounds after the attack on his life. So the real question now is – is he still possessed and could snap at any moment, or was that a one time thing? Because he gave his name, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

What do we think Nahri is going to do now that she’s deeply embedded in the Qahtanis family? Will she marry Muntadhir?

I don’t think she will marry Muntadhir in the end – firstly they hate one another, and secondly she’s just received silent confirmation from the daeva that she has their support, so I reckon she’s going to start trying to dismantle the Qahtanis from within. It’s unclear how successful this will be, because while Nahri is clever, the royal family is powerful, but maybe Nisreen and her plotting group will bring her into their plans soon. The marriage can only take place once she’s turned 25, and I can’t remember how far away that is but she’s definitely got some time to plot. I would like Muntadhir and Nahri to be friends, because I still like the emir a little. I think he’s misguided and raised to be suspicious, and has just received a lot of painful blows, between what happened with his brother and Jamshid, but it might be he’s just going to be an enemy now.

What are your overall impressions of the book?

Very original in it’s telling, with mythology and politics not often seen in fantasy – though maybe more so now that when this book was first published. I enjoyed it overall, but it wasn’t my favourite, and while I really want to know what happens next, I’m not rushing to pick up the second book right away, though I’ll probably read it at some point! I did like the characters, and the twists and turns, and the vivid and visceral descriptions. There are so many elements being juggled throughout and Chakraborty does a really good job of maintaining them and bringing different ones to the fore at the right moment, so I certainly applaud her for that!

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it, and have you enjoyed my take on it? Would love to chat with more people about it!

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