The Kingdom of Copper, by S.A. Chakraborty

S.A. Chakraborty continues her magical series of djinns, creatures from Middle Eastern folklore, and the healer caught in the middle of it with The Kingdom of Copper. This installment picks up five years after the apocalyptic events of The City of Brass. Those five years have been spent healing but, more often, frantically trying to maintain peace in a city that’s just a few degrees from erupting in violence.

Three characters take turns narrating The Kingdom of Copper. Nahri, who was the protagonist of The City of Brass, is caught between her desire to use her magic to heal everyone who needs it and the ruler of Daevabad, who wants to use her to hang on to his tyrannical regime. Meanwhile, the exiled prince Ali is trying to build life in a remote oasis. Unfortunately for him, several forces are scheming to bring him back to the city. And in the background, the resurrected Afshin warrior, Darayavahoush, has found himself in the middle of someone else’s scheme to conquer the city. With each chapter, each of these characters is pulled closer to a blood bath they all want to prevent. It’s too bad for everyone that their manipulators have just the right leverage to keep our narrators in line.

In nearly every chapter of The Kingdom of Copper, we and our narrators are reminded of massacres of the past. The humans hate the daevas and the djinn. The djinn hate the humans and the daevas. The daevas hate the humans and the djinn. The brewing war easily takes advantage of this to try and settle old scores. Only Nahri and Ali want to see all three groups living in peace, but they are stymied at every turn. Common sense would argue that it’s time to move on, to let all that bad blood go and try to move forward to a better future. No one will listen to Nahri and Ali’s arguments; no one wants to let anything go. 

The Kingdom of Copper is a tense read, almost unbearably so. None of our narrators seems capable of stopping all the schemes around them or getting anyone with power to listen. I fear The Kingdom of Copper suffers a bit of middle book syndrome; I could easily see characters being shifted into the place for a later showdown. I also felt a bit frustrated, even though I enjoyed piecing together the hints characters drop about Daevabad and its history. It was only in the last chapters, when all hell has broken loose, that I started to fully enjoy the book. I enjoyed the chaotic ending so much—and I love the characters so much—that I desperately want to know how the story ends.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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