We devoured S.A. Chakraborty’s The Kingdom of Copper with much gusto! The second installment of her Daevabad Trilogy definitely did not disappoint. Chakraborty picks up right were she left off in The City of Brass, plunging the reader straight into the thick of things, except the fate of the main characters from the first book go on a much different course than originally anticipated.
Nahri, who is still mourning the loss of her beloved Afshin, Darayavahoush (Dara), is now wife to Ali’s older brother and future king, Muntadhir al Qahtani. She finds herself in the powerful clutches of King Ghassan, their father and a ruthless ruler holding a secret over Nahri’s head and controlling her by hurting or killing anyone who helps her defy him. Finally held at bay over King Ghassan’s ruthlessness towards her allies, Nahri dives into her role as the Banu Nahida of Daevabad under the watchful eye of Nisreen, her mother’s previous assistant. Her first task, after the effects of Book One’s tumultuous ending, is to heal those who continue to suffer with ailments after their world erupted into fury, fire, and vengeance. She ceaselessly works in the palace infirmary as their Banu Nahida, or sacred healer, and has done so for the past five years. While her marriage to King Ghassan’s drunkard of a son has been nothing short of lackluster, Nahri must keep up the charade for her own safety, as well as the safety of those she cares for. Muntadhir, on the other hand, has very little time or respect for his wife, and spends most of his nights drinking and consorting with palace concubines. But Nahri isn’t searching for romance in her marriage. She rather prefers that her husband is too busy to pay her any attention, leaving Nahri free to pursue her own interests of growing into a stronger, more powerful Nahida and her dreams of being able to heal everyone, regardless of their tribe or blood purity. She must be extremely cautious, however. Nahri knows she is trapped in this gilded kingdom, and under constant surveillance by Ghassan, who rules with an iron fist from atop the throne once belonging to her ancestors. His threats to kill or harm Nahri’s Daeva tribe, keep her from stepping too far out of line.
Dara, presumed to be dead, finds himself under the thumb of a powerful being that decided to resurrect him after Ali forced his blade upon him during the final betrayal. His resurrection leads to another form of imprisonment, one that he can’t decide is for the better of his cause or the collapse of his spirit.
Meanwhile, Ghassan’s second son, Prince Alizayd, has been exiled for defying his father. He finds himself in a desert with no one and nothing. Followed by assassins and adrift in the unforgiving deserts of Am Gezira, Ali is forced to rely on the new and terrifying abilities the dangerous water spirits, or Marid, have gifted him. He is desperate to stay alive and confused about the way his body is reacting to his surroundings. He struggles to find his way back to Daevabad to right the wrongs and his struggle lands him in a cave, near death, before two strangers find him in a puddle of water. They take him to Bir Nabat, a small and destitute village where Ali finds he can help resurrect the spirit of those that live there. He finds solace and purpose in his new home, where he feels he can finally put down roots and have a chance at happiness. But after five years of a building a new life for himself, he is forced to return to Daevabad and face his family once again.
All three of our main characters are fighting their own battles and trying to survive the fate that has been bestowed upon them, but they all find their way back to Daevabad, back to a struggle of power that has existed since the battle that ended the first book of this series.
Ali arrives first, trying to bridge the gap that has formed between him and Nahri. Their friendship was destroyed after he killed Dara (the only man who ever touched Nahri’s heart), but eventually they begin working together once they realized their views regarding politics and Daevabad’s minority citizens, the shafit, are the same. Ali and Nahri’s plans to better Daevabad and strive toward equality, threaten Ghassan’s political schemes and put them both on his radar. But Nahri’s stubborn nature means she doesn’t back down easily and eventually, she fights to build a hospital where she and a shafit doctor can work together to heal all of their citizens.
Then, as the djinn in Daevabad gather to plan Navastem, a celebration honoring the approach of a new century, they are completely unaware of those conspiring outside their gleaming, towering walls. An evil force behind their fortress promises to bring Daevabad to ruin, and seeks the help of a warrior long thought to be dead – a warrior that is still trapped in a vicious, never-ending cycle of violence and destruction.
As the plot unravels, Chakraborty seamlessly bridges all the differing points of view and the intricacies of the many cultures and kingdoms she has marvelously created. With every twist and turn, the reader is taken on an exciting roller-coaster of events, unable to stop turning pages or put the 640-page book down! All in all, this was an excellent read and we anxiously await the final installment, The Empire of Gold, releasing in 2020.