The Kingdom of Copper (Daevabad Trilogy #2)
By S.A. Chakraborty
HarperCollins (640 pages, $26.99 hardcover, January 2019)
No joke, I just wrote what would have been the opening two paragraphs for this post, and followed it immediately by typing the words, Wow, that sounds like a boring, stereotypical book review and I’m a hack. That’s a sign my brain is running low on capacity for anything other than novella and podcast revisions. Or, more likely, it’s run out of patience for reading anything that doesn’t immediately catch and hold my attention.
Luckily, the book I’m trying to extoll in this review is an easy sell. You might remember my review of S.A. Chakraborty’s debut novel The City of Brass, which I’ll admit I wasn’t totally enamored with because of the way the plot seemed to drag. Chakraborty’s follow-up novel The Kingdom of Copper, though, is exactly what you want from an author’s second book: even more of the elements you love, and an improvement in everything else.
Copper keeps everything awesome about Brass but makes it tenser, faster and more emotional. My issue with the first Daevabad novel was the pacing; there seemed to be a major lull about halfway where everything slowed down, and the emotional aspect of the book wasn’t enough to keep me immersed. Copper moves at a faster pace and with more tension, since each of Chakraborty’s POV characters has to be careful with everything they do. The blend of complicated personal stakes and political/societal risks for Daevabad and its djinn makes it a gripping story even when characters are just standing around talking.
Nahri in particular really shines, as she’s torn between wanting to protect her people, making a name for herself as a healer, avoiding the machinations of the Qahtanis, and her concern for people like Nisreen and Jamshid. And when you add in Ali’s fervor for defending the shafit, Manizeh’s hatred for the Qahtanis, Dara’s love and determination to save Nahri, and more, you end up with the best kind of overlapping tension between multiple driven characters.
And the best part is that no one is perfectly in the right. Chakhraborty did an amazing job twisting me between loving and hating different characters. Everyone does infuriating things, and by the end of the book I was somehow cheering for the characters I hated in the beginning, and vilifying the characters I had previously loved. That takes a phenomenal level of skill. When I finished The City of Brass, I was in no particular rush for a sequel – but now the Daevabad trilogy’s conclusion can’t come quickly enough.
Like podcasts? Brandon has just launched a limited first season of “Broadcasts from the Wasteland,” where he and fellow author Evan May sit down for casual chats with other Canadian writers. The first two episodes are live now, featuring Derek Kunsken, Kelly Robson, Marie Bilodeau and Jay Odjick. Check it out here: