The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty
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.
What a finale!! I’m almost never happy with the end of a series, which maybe partly explains why I rarely make it to the end. But The Empire of Gold was so fantastic! It really checked all of my boxes. (Caution, mild spoilers ahead. Nothing you probably haven’t guessed, but shield yourself if you want.)
I think my absolute favorite thing was seeing Ali and Nahri finally acknowledge their feelings for each other. Ali in particular I found adorable. Every time looking at Narhi gave him all the feels I felt my heart melting. Definitely one of the strengths of this series has been that the romances were not particularly straightforward and have been MESSY. But seeing Ali and Nahri fall in love was a joy.
The plot didn’t have that break-neck speed, but kept me turning pages greedily nonetheless. It’s amazing how the longer the book went the more convoluted and impossible things got. Like, things were so effed up at the end of Kingdom of Copper that I assumed this book would be mostly about unraveling it. NOPE. Plenty of twists, turns, and drama. It was simultaneously frustrating and exciting.
Manizheh was a DELICIOUSLY messed up villain. Like, I hated her, but at the same time I felt completely sorry for her. Chakraborty did an excellent job creating a backstory for her that made her position feel real, instead of the corny-overly-evil-villain of stock variety. She had so much more substance than, say, Ursula Jafar or Cruella de-Ville, but she was still definitely evil. The things she did were unforgivable, but you as the reader could understand how she got there.
On that note, I feel like Chakraborty really showed what she’s capable of in terms of characterization in this book. Dara, Jamshid, Muntadhir, they were all so complex! While the men in this series have been a tad one-dimensional (with the obvious exceptions of Dara and Ali), in this book they all got to show how many facets they have. I was especially pleased with Jamshid’s character development.
It was so … Everything worked out almost too perfectly. Like, seriously, nobody is running Ali out of town now that he looks like a freaking Marid??? The Peris just ACCEPTED Nahri’s choice and gave her the ring? And I’m supposed to just believe that everyone just agreed on democracy? I didn’t really buy it. But I ate it up anyway.
I loved how everything got wrapped up with a pretty bow. Normally that annoys the crap out of me, but I was happy to see everyone getting happy endings and all the loose ends tied up. I could have used a wedding or at least some *kissing*, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Also, I love that Nahri got a shedu. I want one!!! And Mishmish? How cute is that name?!
If you loved City of Brass you’ve just GOT to read to the end of this series! It’s so fabulous. If you didn’t love City of Brass I can only assume you are a heartless cyborg serial killer. Can’t wait to fangirl with you all in the comments!!!