The Empire of Gold, by S.A. Chakraborty

I always hold my breath (metaphorically) when I start reading the last book in a series that I’ve enjoyed. I get a little nervous because I want a volume that not only ties up all the loose ends, but also ties those ends up in a way that honors what’s come before. I want an ending that satisfies and knocks my bookish socks off. I held my breath when I started to read The Empire of Gold, by S.A. Chakraborty. I’ve loved the way that Chakraborty reimagined the mythology of the Middle East in a story of politics, love, and rebellion. There’s a lot riding on this last book in the Daevabad trilogy.

The Empire of Gold is not for readers new to the series. There is so much plot in the first two books, The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper, that I was a little lost at the beginning of this final entry. It took me a few chapters to remember what was going on. The book opens immediately after the end of The Kingdom of Copper. Nahri and Ali have been sent halfway around the world after a magical mishap. Meanwhile, Dara is trapped in Daevabad with the increasingly murderous Manizheh, who took over the city at the end of the previous novel. Nahri, Ali, and Dara take turns narrating the story. While Nahri and Ali try to a) figure out a way to get back to Daevabad and b) figure out how to retake the city, Dara struggles with his ancient promise to serve with his growing realization that Manizheh is not worthy of his service.

I was a little worried in the initial third of The Empire of Gold. The ending of The Kingdom of Copper was so explosive that it seemed like The Empire of Gold was a little wobbly on its legs—especially in the chapters narrated by Dara. Dara’s psychological struggles are painful to watch. He believes, at least at first, that the situation in Daevabad under Manizheh can be salvaged, that she can be made to listen to reason and learn to be a benevolent ruler. It takes a painful number of chapters for Dara to realize—too late—that she is more invested in revenge than anything else. Nahri and Ali’s chapters were kind of a relief from the emotional heaviness of Dara’s chapters. Even though the pair are in a dangerous and seemingly impossible situation, I had a fun time reading about their growing love for each other.

The second third of The Empire of Gold erased all of my worries that this book wouldn’t live up to the promise of the first two books in the series. By the time I got to the final third, all hints of worry were gone. The last third of the novel was so gripping that I couldn’t put it down. I missed a phone call from my sister because I was so in the book that I didn’t even hear it ring. I don’t want to give anything away about the end of the book; I know so many fans of the series won’t want it to be ruined. I’ll only say that there were twists and turns and magical creatures and feats of sorcery that took my breath away in a completely different way.

I know that this review is full of mixed metaphors and is light on plot details. I’ve always had a hard time writing reviews about books that I had so much fun reading. I end up gushing instead of analyzing. The Empire of Gold deserves a better review than I’m able to write, even after 24 hours after I finished it. All I can say is, if you love original, imaginative fantasy novels, you should pick up this series immediately.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Edelweiss, for review consideration.

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