The Kingdom of Copper: A Novel (The Daevabad Trilogy)

Image of The Kingdom of Copper: A Novel (The Daevabad Trilogy)
Author(s): 
Release Date: 
January 21, 2019
Publisher/Imprint: 
Harper Voyager
Pages: 
640
Reviewed by: 

"The Kingdom of Copper will appeal to fans of epic fantasy across the board . . ."

Welcome back to Daevabad—a land of magic and myth—where marid enchants princes, djinn can be killed (maybe), and a woman can heal you with a wave her hand. It is a land of evil kings and scheming princesses and a history so deep and enchanting it steals your breath. It is in this intoxicating place that we once again meet Nahri, a thief from Cairo now forcibly married to a crown prince, whose greatest wish is to become the healer she is destined to be.

Nahri’s destiny, of course, is not entirely her own. King Ghassan keeps her on a very tight leash, having her every movement watched and reported. Her husband, Prince Muntadhir, is too close with his father—and too afraid—to be the confidant Nahri needs. With Prince Alizayd banished and the djinn Dara presumed dead, Nahri tries to make the best of her situation.

Old friends return, as it is certain they must, and within those familiar yet changed ties Nahri finds the courage to restore her ancestor’s old hospital. It is a path to freedom, if only academically, but also a way she might help break down the barriers between the different groups living and warring in Daevabad. Unfortunately, exile and death have not left Prince Ali and Dara in good moods. Both have eyes on Daevabad and its people, though for very different reasons. And neither will let Nahri stand in the way of their visions.

At once familiar and deep, The Kingdom of Copper takes off with a bang right where The City of Brass leaves off. Little time is spent rehashing prior events and instead the book focuses immediately on the three POV characters: Dara, Ali, and Nahri. The detailing also remains lush without becoming purple, and it is easy to see, smell, and taste the world of Daevabad in just a few pages.

Family, in particular, plays a large role in the book. From the royal family to Nahri’s own scattered, secretive bloodlines, it is family that drives the tension and stakes in The Kingdom of Copper—drives and cuts in a way that only family could.

Emotions, too, run high. Nahri’s perpetual lack of information—used both by design to showcase her lack of power but also as a convenient info dumping device—is easy to acknowledge early on but becomes progressively more frustrating as the book wears on. Rightfully so, Nahri calls the issue out more than once:

“I cannot be the Banu Nahida in the Temple and infirmary and then be treated like a child when it comes to political matters you think upsetting.”

And echoed in the words of the powerless:

“If you can’t protect yourself, how can you possibly protect the rest of us?”

Despite the numerous tropes deployed across the book that feed into the “scheming royalty” default, Chakraborty insistently delivers diversity. Dara trains women as warriors—after being shamed for his early reluctance by Nahri’s mother (. . . if he could fight for a woman, he could fight beside one). And bisexuality and gayness are canonical—between two major characters nonetheless. Between these elements and the setting, Chakraborty manages what many epic fantasy writers have never achieved: a world where everyone can see themselves not only mirrored, but powerful.

The Kingdom of Copper will appeal to fans of epic fantasy across the board, from those beholden to monarchy tropes to those who seek the worldbuilding as its own character. Even for those new to epic fantasy, there is something to find, whether through the evolution of Ali’s magic, Nahri’s love quadrangle, or the brutal palace politics that drive everyone, and everything, to ruin.