Book Review – The River of Silver

The River of Silver is a collection of short stories set in the world of The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty. I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani. It appears that this book is not available in print or as an e-book until October 2022, so the audio version is your only option for an early return to this stunning world.

I reviewed the books in the original trilogy here:

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Here is the blurb:

Bestselling author S.A. Chakraborty’s acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy gets expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, all from the perspective of characters both beloved and hated, and even those without a voice in the novels. The River of Silver gathers material both seen and new—including a special coda fans will need to read—making this the perfect complement to those incredible novels.

A prospective new queen joins a court whose lethal history may overwhelm her own political savvy…

An imprisoned royal from a fallen dynasty and a young woman wrenched from her home cross paths in an enchanted garden…

A pair of scouts stumble upon a secret in a cursed winter wood that will turn over their world…

Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.


This book is for readers who have already enjoyed The Daevabad Trilogy, and while the stories would be readable to someone unfamiliar with the plot and characters of the books, much of the impact of these tales would be lost. The River of Silver is a collection of deleted scenes, character backstory, and moments of resolution that either didn’t fit in the main trilogy, would have given away spoilers too soon, or would have dragged out the ending of The Empire of Gold.

For anyone reading the trilogy and wanting just a little more, The River of Silver will deliver on that. Each story is prefaced by a short note from the author that lets the reader know when it occurs in relation to the books and if there was any other history behind it. For example, one story was an alternate prologue to one of the books.

The narrator is the same woman who read the original trilogy, and her voice took me immediately back to Daevabad. The slight variations in tone allowed me to discern different characters without needing to be otherwise told.

Overall this was a fun addition to the world of Daevabad and helped to ease the sadness of finishing the trilogy and knowing that such a wonderful story was over.

Did you read any of The Daevabad Trilogy? Have you picked up The River of Silver yet? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Empire of Gold

The Empire of Gold is the third and final book in The Daevabad Trilogy by S. A. Chakraborty. I listened to this one as an audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani.

You can find my reviews of the other books in this series here:

Spoilers below!

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Here is the blurb:

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.


This book was a long read, but I found it necessary to wrap up all of the complex plot threads and character relationships in this story. I generally love long and complicated stories, so this is not a criticism, and the book delivered a stunning conclusion to Nahri and Ali’s stories.

Even though I thought I knew certain things, the author managed to reveal new secrets that changed the dynamics between the characters. It is neither a happy nor a tragic ending, but a bittersweet, satisfying, and still hopeful one.

Have you read The Daevabad Trilogy? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty is the second book in The Daevabad Trilogy. I listened to this as an audiobook last year and loved the entire series. You can find my review of the first book, The City of Brass, here.

Also – beware! Spoilers below!

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Here is the blurb:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family, and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid, the unpredictable water spirits, have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.


Set a few years after the tragic ending of book 1, we see Nahri settling into her new role as a healer as this book begins. But she still grieves both Dara and Ali, and resents the king who essentially keeps her captive in Daevabad.

This book complicates everything that you thought you knew about this world, and looking back at it now, I don’t know how so much fit into one book. The politics entangles the characters more than before, new secrets are revealed.

Like the first book, this one reaches an ending but leaves more to be done. Look out for my review of book 3, The Empire of Gold, in the next week.

Have you read The Daevabad Trilogy? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The City of Brass

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty is a book that I read last year but had never reviewed. It is the first in a trilogy (The Daevabad Trilogy), and I loved this series so much that I had to go back to say a few things about it. I also just finished a fourth book set in this world (The River of Silver), so that reminded me that I needed to write about this series.

The City of Brass was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and a British Fantasy Awards, and the series was nominated for a Hugo Award for best series. I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Soneela Nankani.

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Here is the blurb:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by – palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing – are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. For Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass – a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries. Spurning Dara’s warning of the treachery surrounding her, she embarks on a hesitant friendship with Alizayd, an idealistic prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt regime. All too soon, Nahri learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for….


This story starts out simply enough, with an orphan girl summoning a djinn who whisks her away to a land of magic. But the history and politics in this world elevate the story as it grows in complexity. Everyone holds secrets in this place, and it is the slow revelation of the truth and the interactions between the characters that made this book so good. The unique worldbuilding was a tiny bit confusing to me at first, but once I became more immersed in the book, the phenomenal world that Chakraborty has created drew me in.

The blurb above is a little deceptive, as Alizayd is also a main character. We get to see the story from both Nahri and his points of view. I was more interested in Nahri’s story at the start, but Ali grew on me and develops into a wonderful character as he is torn between his family, his conscience, and his tentative friendship with Nahri.

If you do read this one, be ready to pick up the next book, The Kingdom of Copper, right away because this first book ends on a devastating sequence of events. Yes, there’s an ending, but even more questions remain.

Have you read any books of The Daevabad Trilogy? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

Read my review of book 2, The Kingdom of Copper, here.

Read more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Witch’s Heart

I picked this book up last year on a whim and I had meant to read it around Halloween because witches, but as always, I have too many books and not enough time. So it had to wait. The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec is the first book by this author and delves into Norse mythology and the life of the witch Angrboda.

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Here is the blurb:

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.


I have to preface my review by saying that I am not very familiar with Norse mythology. Of course I know the names of some of the gods and figures in their stories, but I’ve never read these myths in the same way that I did for Greek mythology.

This was an enjoyable book and, although it does get a bit strange, I have to imagine that some of that comes from the original myths. Angrboda is a sympathetic character and even though she doesn’t physically do much in the beginning of the story, her relationships with Loki and Skadi that are integral to the later events are gradually built up.

This novel is also full of secrets with Angrboda keeping secrets from the gods and her friends, but at the same time being unable to understand her own mysterious background. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion that is both tragic and hopeful.

While the myths are different, this book reminded me of Circe by Madeleine Miller, which I was one of my favorite books I read in 2020 (which I never wrote a review on – sorry).

Have you read The Witch’s Heart or Circe? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Book Review – Light

This book was a pick for a local science fiction book club that I participate in. I had never read anything by M. John Harrison, and Light had an interesting premise. I listened to this one as an audiobook, narrated by Julian Elfer. It is book 1 in the Kefahuchi Tract series.

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Here is the blurb:

In M. John Harrison’s dangerously illuminating new novel, three quantum outlaws face a universe of their own creation, a universe where you make up the rules as you go along and break them just as fast, where there’s only one thing more mysterious than darkness.

In contemporary London, Michael Kearney is a serial killer on the run from the entity that drives him to kill. He is seeking escape in a future that doesn’t yet exist—a quantum world that he and his physicist partner hope to access through a breach of time and space itself. In this future, Seria Mau Genlicher has already sacrificed her body to merge into the systems of her starship, the White Cat. But the “inhuman” K-ship captain has gone rogue, pirating the galaxy while playing cat and mouse with the authorities who made her what she is. In this future, Ed Chianese, a drifter and adventurer, has ridden dynaflow ships, run old alien mazes, surfed stellar envelopes. He “went deep”—and lived to tell about it. Once crazy for life, he’s now just a twink on New Venusport, addicted to the bizarre alternate realities found in the tanks—and in debt to all the wrong people.

Haunting them all through this maze of menace and mystery is the shadowy presence of the Shrander—and three enigmatic clues left on the barren surface of an asteroid under an ocean of light known as the Kefahuchi Tract: a deserted spaceship, a pair of bone dice, and a human skeleton.


I really struggled to get into this book and I gave up on it after listening to about a third of it. The audio narration was fine, but I couldn’t follow the story or care about the characters. Much of the writing is spent on meaningless description, and while I like detail and an immersive world, none of the description related to how the characters interacted with their world, making it feel gratuitous.

The story follows three viewpoint characters, but I never felt interested in any of them. The idea of having someone’s consciousness merged into a starship has been done in other books, but is always something that I find interesting. Even with this theme, I couldn’t care what happened to Seria Mau. Of the three, Michael Kearney, was the most interesting to me, and he was a serial killer.

I might consider reading something else by this author because the writing itself was good. It just didn’t engage me at all.

Have you read something by M. John Harrison? Give me other recommendations in the comments above.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Reading Update – April 2022

Sooo… my reading goals for 2022 are probably not very realistic, judging by my current progress. For my 2022 Goodreads reading challenge, I have set a goal to read 89 books. So far, I’ve finished 12 of them, putting me 14 books behind that pace.

This graphic above shows those I’ve read. I’m not sure how I can read at any faster pace unless I quit my job, sleep even less than I do, or figure out how to bend time and space. I’m already listening to audiobooks to help make use of my otherwise useless driving time. At the end of the day, it isn’t truly about the numbers. It’s about the enjoyment of reading. But I agonize over my list of books and how there are so many that I feel like I will never get to, thus the attempt to set reading goals.

So what am I currently reading? I have started on Children of Dune by Frank Herbert but haven’t made it very far on this one yet. I’m about halfway through The Witch’s Heart by Genivieve Gornichec which I bought on a whim, and I’m a short way into Light by John M. Harrison in audiobook format for an upcoming book club discussion.

I’m enjoying Children of Dune and The Witch’s Heart but I’m struggling to get into Light. I haven’t found the characters very compelling and the futuristic cyperpunk-type of world is difficult to understand.

Coming up, the next few books on my to-be-read list are In a Garden Burning Gold by Rory Power (thanks to NetGalley), The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4) by Robert Jordan, The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4) by Peter V. Brett, and Station Eleven (audiobook) by Emily St. John Mandel.

Hopefully I’ll get a review up by the end of the week for The Witch’s Heart. I have some travel planned and a 2-hour flight can help to create some uninterrupted reading time.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

Book Review – The New Jim Crow

I have too many books that I want to read and not enough time. But with certain books, I will make a special effort to carve out time to read them, and that is the case with The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. I had wanted to read this for the past couple of years and I picked up the audiobook edition, narrated by Karen Chilton.

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Here is the blurb:

“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”

As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them.

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.


I remember learning about the “War on Drugs” since I grew up primarily in the 1980’s. Living near Washington, D.C., I saw local news coverage of the crack epidemic there, and I remember how it was all portrayed in a rather sensationalized manner. In The New Jim Crow, the author relates the history of drug policy and how the creation of laws that were not inherently racist allowed police and prosecutors to use them in a biased fashion that ultimately led to the mass incarceration of disproportionate numbers of black men in America.

The author makes many valid points and it was easy to follow the logic of her argument. However, I feel like the book belabors the point and that some of her conclusions could have been made more concisely. Overall, for a book on a similar topic, I found Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson to be a better read.

The audiobook narration was effective. I often turn to audiobooks when I read non-fiction because I have an easier time keeping up my reading momentum in this genre. The recording was clear and I listened to it at a normal speed.

Have you read The New Jim Crow? Let me know in the comments above. Do you have any suggestions for what should I read next on this subject?

Find more of my book reviews here.

Writing Update – April 2022

I haven’t quite finished another book in time to get a review up today, so I’m going to give an update on the status of my writing instead.

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For last week, I made steady progress on my current novel, East of the Sun, finishing about 2500 words. This is a hard science fiction novel set on a space station orbiting Enceladus. Here is the current blurb I’m using for the book and you can see some artwork I created that I felt captured the feel of a possible cover.

After her laboratory is destroyed and her career is threatened, a damaged scientist must investigate a new life form that has infiltrated Etna Station; but when crew members begin vanishing and life support fails, she must put her past aside and embrace a new existence if there is hope for any of them to survive.

I’m experimenting with using the Save the Cat! technique for novel writing that I found in the book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. I have a lot of the plot outlined but I have to fill in many of the details as I go.

When writers talk about their technique for writing, we usually break it into two subcategories: plotters and pantsers. Plotters are writers who map out most of the book ahead of time and then write off of extensive outlines. Pantsers are writers who fly the the seat of their pants. These writers come up with a story idea and/or character and then just write to see where it takes them.

I am some awkward hybrid of both types of writers. This makes learning the process of how to create a coherent plot an exercise in frustration and a lot of rewriting.

I have a couple of short stories making the rounds at markets. I need to find some time to rewrite or revise some of my other short fiction because I don’t have enough ready to submit to magazines. Before I do that, I want to gain more momentum on East of the Sun though.

For the writers out there, are you a plotter or a plantser? Let me know in the comments above.

SFWA Changes Membership Requirements

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I wanted to write about this change because I only happened to discover it when one friend made brief mention of it on Facebook and I thought other writers might not be aware of it. In any case, SFWA is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the professional organization for fiction writers in these genres. For many aspiring writers, membership is an early career goal. Former requirements for full membership were either publication of one novel or two short stories in approved “pro-level” markets.

With changes in publishing models, the requirements for SFWA membership have changed a few times in recent years. This latest update changes the requirements for both full membership and associate membership to be based around a writer’s total income from their writing, setting the bar for full membership at $1000 and associate membership at $100.

You can find the full details at the SFWA site here.

With this change, I was eligible to join. So as of last week, I’m an associate member of SFWA! You can find the benefits of membership listed here. I’ve been browsing the forums and have already received an issue of the newsletter.

If I want to upgrade to full membership I’ll have to publish additional short stories or a novel. But that has always been the goal, memberships and associations aside.

Who else is new member of SFWA? Let me know in the comments above.

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