Book Review: Empire of Gold

Nahri’s constant partner through Empire of Gold, Ali, had his own fair share of introspection. Like Nahri, he’s no stranger to straddling between two worlds, especially since the marid’s watery touch altered the fire in his veins. Ever idealistic, Ali grapples with the Suleiman’s ring embedded in his heart and what it means for the future of Daevabad. Ali is the moral compass of this trilogy, and although he stumbles, he puts his all into walking a righteous path. This trait used to annoy the heck out of me in book one, where he was my least favourite character, but he’s my Alu now and he must be protected from his severely deficient survival instinct. His growth throughout the series, like his character, has been steady and unassuming yet significant. Alizayd al Qahtani is no longer the intractable djinn prince we saw in City of Brass, but a leader with a vision for his people and Daevabad.

To round off the point of views, we have Dara, who’s character arc will forever haunt me. The series took the archetype of a brooding fantasy hero with a dark past and imbued it with so much more scope. Dara is by turns terrifying and vulnerable – but always deeply human. We have seen him struggle to reconcile his own past choices with the man he wants to be, the man he wants Nahri to see. In this book, Dara’s heartbreaking journey continues, and his weakness is invariably his penchant to put his faith into the wrong people. His is a tragic tale for a man who can’t help but hope, and trust, and love more than he should. Even as he commit atrocities, I can’t help but root for his happiness, and his ending left me catatonic for days. Fellow Dara lovers, I see you and here’s a virtual hug to you all.

For me, the strength of the series have always been the characters and how much I am wholly invested in them. It’s not just the main three characters, I would read entire books on Muntadhir, Jamshid, Zaynab, and Aqisa. The series has me wishing that fantasy adopted the brilliant tactic employed by romancelandia to give a spin-off novel to every secondary character ever. The villain of this piece, Manizeh, is at once infuriating and oddly sympathetic. There’s also a host of new characters in this book that I grew to adore despite their limited page time. Needless to say, I would jump on Chakraborty’s new titles in a heartbeat.

It’s not just the characters though, the world of Daevabad is greatly expanded in this book – where readers are treated to the sights of new lands and legendary creatures. The scope of this world feel so vast, I am a little bit bitter we could only see three books worth of it. The pacing was also a balanced mix of page-turning action and quiet character introspection. My heart pounded equally fast whether we were treated to a moment of intimacy between some favourite characters, or the numerous life or death situations the characters manage to come across.

Although I ultimately love this series and appreciate the character growth, I did feel that the finale did not have the stakes and sacrifices that I expected from a series of this scope – especially given the adrenaline rush I had felt reading the endings for the first two novels. Upon reflection, the middle book of this trilogy remains my favourite for its memorable third arc.

I can barely believe this is the last time I will be blogging about the Daevabad trilogy, it truly feels like the end of an era. I will never stop screaming about these characters and their world though, and I eagerly anticipate whatever else S. A. Chakraborty bless us with.

Have you read this trilogy? What did you think of the ending?

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Empire of Gold

  1. I really liked the ending for how much we got to see of things resettling, after the climactic battle. But I felt it was a little open-ended, in a way that was both good and bad…. maybe only bad because there’s no sequels yet confirmed :’) There was enough ambiguity in obviously Dara’s storyline but also Nahri’s regarding the new enemies she makes in the climax to have potential for sequels, possibly in another time period? I appreciated that recovery from the events of the book were presented as a work in progress because that felt realistic, but I would’ve liked something that felt more conclusive.

    (In much shallower, less academic terms, I basically… wish there had been more than one kiss scene.)

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    1. I think the most emotional part of the book for me was the last scene with Dara. I still get teary eyed thinking about it. I guess it will always be hard to meet the expectation of the fandom for a series this expansive – I just wish the ending was overall a bit more memorable.

      And romance spin off of the Daevabad trilogy please!

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  2. Yes I have read it and I gave it all the stars! Honestly I don’t know how Shannon did it but there was never one moment I found boring or unnecessary in this book! I was a Dara fan all along and was ready to despise Ali but here, she convinced me that Nahri loving him was right. I too can’t wait to read what she’ll write next!

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  3. I stayed up until 2am to finish it too! And I agree Nahri’s journey was one of the most interesting parts of the novel for sure. I really wish we could get a spin off book about Dara’s adventures freeing the relics it would be so cool. Great review!

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