The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty
Title: The Empire of Gold
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Publisher: Harper Voyager, HarperCollins UK
Published Date: June 11th 2020
Length: 782 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, YA, etc.
Rating: 4.50 /5
The final chapter in the bestselling, critically acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy, in which a con-woman and an idealistic djinn prince join forces to save a magical kingdom from a devastating civil war.
Daevabad has fallen.
After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.
But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.
Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.
As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.
Ok, after the ride that was The Kingdom of Copper and where it ended in the second book, I picked this one up immediately and basically rode the wave till the book ended. It was a pretty satisfying end for the trilogy, I love the way it ended if I am being honest even if this is not a five star read, again. Oh, well.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyager, I have had the pleasure of reading this ahead of its release (kinda). Frankly, I would have cried had I not had the third book in hand when I finished the second one. It’s that kind of cliffhanger. Anyway! Onto the last book in the series!
If I am being honest, no matter how good the first two books in the series were, I was a bit afraid of this one and as I read on, I was becoming more worried as chapter after chapter unveiled things I did not think of imagining. I was really worried about 60% in as to what was actually going to happen. I was just worried that after such a good run so far, it would end on not so good note.
It starts where the second book left off, Daevabad is out of Ghassan’s control, Manizeh has the control now and with Dara by her side. The result of this is Nahri and Ali escaping the city and in effect robbing Daevabad and its counterparts losing all magic entirely. Turns out, Suleiman’s Seal is not supposed to leave Daevabad’s borders. They are trying to find a solution that does not end in more bloodshed and more political disasters. Meanwhile, Dara has to live with the fact that despite him wishing for otherwise, he is, once again, responsible for another massacre. As the story moves, we see Dara realising that while he might have thought that it was his duty to follow the Nahids, it’s not perhaps the best life choice he had made in a while. Manizeh is ruthless and unnecessarily cruel and it’s affecting Dara’s beliefs and faith.
As for Nahri and Ali, their relationship took a different turn than I was ready for. Ali’s crush was not a secret but it had grown into something more and what’s more, Nahri had finally started to see him as something else other than her friend-turned-enemy-turned-ally and I would rather it stayed platonic, but I can kinda see how it was going to happen anyway? It’s not my favourite part of the book and it kinda overshadows their actual friendship that was slowly growing. I wish it was explored more. On the other hand, I absolutely loved Dara’s arc on this one, I finally got a story where the girl doesn’t end up with a thousand year old guy simply because he was hot. Mind you, there’s far more to Dara than this but you know what? I don’t think Nahri and Dara could have lasted in the long run, they had differing opinions on how things should be/should have been. That’s what happens when there’s a literal thousand years of age difference.
Speaking of relationships, I wish Muntadhir and Jamshid got a better more clear ending than the one we got, while I understand that they were clearly secondary characters and got a better ending than I could have hoped for, my greedy heart still wants more. As far as Al-Qahtani siblings are concerned, oh, goodness, what a brilliant trio they make! I loved their growth as a whole and just…so many feels!
Now, let’s talk about character growth because there’s some that I had issues with. Dara was not one of them! He had such growth in this one, his chapters were so filled with tension and conflicting thoughts and feelings and I loved them. I might not have liked the fact that it took him a long time to realise that just because the Nahids demanded it, it did not mean it was the right thing to do. However when taken into consideration the sheer number of years he had spent thinking just that, I can see how some hard truths took time to be comfortable with. In Ali’s case, not talking about romance, it was him realising that his family and his heritage is more than his own perceptions of it. I especially loved the way we got to see Marid magic and how very vast the world really was compared to just the politics of Daevas. Nahri’s is perhaps the only growth that isn’t super drastic or momentous. We already knew her feelings about the Daevas and the djinns and the shafits and that was nothing new. However her birth origins were! They came out of nowhere after it being established throughout the trilogy.
Okay, we are nearing the end of the review. It’s long, I know. So, I love that this book also followed the slow beginning, letting us settle in the mood and then it just lifts and lifts and then the action goes BAM! Then you are really in it for the ride, and what a ride this one was! From about seventy percent till the end, so much happened! I can’t begin to tell you how much actually happened. It’s just one long explosion. Yeah, let’s call it that. I loved the way this story ended, I loved that there was room for growth, for future for the characters of the series but also for the world of the Daevas. I absolutely loved Dara’s concluding story arc, it couldn’t have been more perfect, it is something I really, really appreciate. Thank you for this, S. A. Chakraborty! Nahri’s story also ended on a note that I am not terribly sad about, it’s the best ending she could have had and that stands for Ali too!
It is not smooth sailing and it is, at times, a bit slow and meandering (don’t worry tho! I like my books like that! Especially fantasy ones) but overall, I really loved this trilogy with all my heart. Flaws and all. Flaws are just that touch of imperfection this series needed, I think. It’s just great and I am already thinking of ways to read it again. How much time should pass before a re-read, do you think?