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!

Paid links help to support this blog.

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!

Paid links help to support this blog.

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.

Paid links help to support this blog.

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.

Paid links help to support this blog.

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.

Paid links help to support this blog.

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.

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.

Paid links help to support this blog.

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.

Book Review – Dark Matter

I picked this book up at a signing at New York Comic-Con a couple of years ago but hadn’t had a chance to read it until now. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is the first book I’ve read by this author and is a blend of science fiction, thriller, and romance.

Paid links help to support this blog.

Here is the blurb:

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

– – –

‘Are you happy in your life?’

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before the man he’s never met smiles down at him and says, ‘Welcome back.’

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream?

And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

I enjoyed this book a lot and finished it in less than a week, which is pretty fast for me. Despite the theoretical physics behind the science fiction premise, the concept is explained just enough to be understandable for the purposes of the plot.

Jason Dessen is quite a sympathetic protagonist, and we see him go through some horrific experiences as he struggles to find his way home. By the end, everything is resolved in a satisfactory although not completely happy way. This was a fun stand-alone novel and I’ll look out for more books by this author in the future.

Have you read Dark Matter or anything else by Blake Crouch? Let me know in the comments above.

Book Review – Instinct

I picked up Instinct by Jason M. Hough because I met the author many years ago and a con and I’ve enjoyed his other books. This one was a bit of a departure from his earlier novels because it isn’t science fiction, but more of a straight-forward thriller. I listed to this as an audiobook, narrated by Nancy Wu and George Newbern.

For my reviews on Jason’s other books, look here:

Paid links help to support this blog.

Here is the blurb:

Welcome to Silvertown, Washington. Population 602 (for now).

Despite its small size, the small mountain town is home to more conspiracy theories than any other place in America. Officer Mary Whittaker is slowly acclimating to the daily weirdness of life here, but when the chief of police takes a leave of absence, she is left alone to confront a series of abnormal incidents—strange even by Silvertown standards.

An “indoor kid” who abhors nature dies on a random midnight walkabout with no explanation.

A hiker is found dead on a trail, smiling serenely after being mauled by a bear.

A woman known for being a helicopter parent abandons her toddler twins without a second thought.

It’s almost as if the townsfolk are losing their survival instinct, one by one…

As Whittaker digs deeper into her investigation, she uncovers a larger conspiracy with more twists and turns than a mountain road, and danger around every corner. To save Silvertown, she must distinguish the truth from paranoia-fueled lies before she ends up losing her own instincts…and her life!

This book kept me enthralled throughout and was a quick listen. Mary Whittaker is a sympathetic and competent protagonist and her actions are believable as she tries to figure out what has afflicted Silvertown. The action ramps up and places Mary and the entire town into life-threatening danger.

The mystery behind the strange incidents kept me guessing up until the end. I did figure out a few aspects of the plot before Mary herself solved them, but I think that added to the tension. And while this is a stand-alone novel, a few loose ends to the plot leave an opening for a sequel.

Have you read any of Jason Hough’s other novels? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – The Dragon Reborn

I’ve been a bit slower to complete my reading over the past few weeks, but maybe choosing books that are over 600 pages long is part of the reason why. The Dragon Reborn is the third book (of 14) in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I read this as an e-book.

For my reviews of earlier books in the series, look here:

  • Book 1 – The Eye of the World (oh, I skipped reviewing this one, might do it later)
  • Book 2 – The Great Hunt
Paid links help to support this blog.

Here is the blurb:

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn….

Even though this book’s title implies that it will be about Rand, it follows a lot more of the other characters’ stories. With the storyline split through several point-of-view characters, it makes the overall action move more slowly as well.

So while I enjoyed this book, it felt more simple than I remember. We do get to see some new important characters introduced and seeing ancient powers (like balefire) return and an expansion of Egwene’s dreamer powers add to the mythic character of this story.

I’ll probably take a week or two off from The Wheel of Time before I jump into book 4, The Shadow Rising, next month.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Book Review – Harrow the Ninth

Harrow the Ninth is the second book in The Locked Tomb series by New Zealand author Tamsyn Muir. Like my read of the first book (Gideon the Ninth – review here), I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Moira Quirk.

Paid links help to support this blog.

Here is the blurb:

She answered the Emperor’s call.

She arrived with her arts, her wits, and her only friend.

In victory, her world has turned to ash.

After rocking the cosmos with her deathly debut, Tamsyn Muir continues the story of the penumbral Ninth House in Harrow the Ninth, a mind-twisting puzzle box of mystery, murder, magic, and mayhem. Nothing is as it seems in the halls of the Emperor, and the fate of the galaxy rests on one woman’s shoulders.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been drafted by her Emperor to fight an unwinnable war. Side-by-side with a detested rival, Harrow must perfect her skills and become an angel of undeath — but her health is failing, her sword makes her nauseous, and even her mind is threatening to betray her.

Sealed in the gothic gloom of the Emperor’s Mithraeum with three unfriendly teachers, hunted by the mad ghost of a murdered planet, Harrow must confront two unwelcome questions: is somebody trying to kill her? And if they succeeded, would the universe be better off?

I really wanted to like this book, but it was hard to follow and I found myself confused for much of it. The story is told in the present day, written in second person, and also has flashbacks that appear to be an alternate version of the events of Gideon the Ninth. The characters are superbly drawn and their interactions are fascinating, even if I didn’t understand the relevance of much of it.

The unique portrayal of necromancy continues in this volume with wonderfully creative descriptions of bone and blood magic. The narrator provides each character with a slightly different manner of speech and subtle differences in accent which helps to follow more complicated conversations.

I just wish more was cleared up by the end of this book. The confusion was the worst at the very beginning and then in the end. Don’t expect any resolution or explanations in this series yet. It looks like two more books are planned, with the next one (Nona the Ninth) releasing later this year.

Have you read anything by Tamsyn Muir? What did you think? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my book reviews here.

Previous Older Entries

Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 315 other subscribers

%d bloggers like this: