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 – 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 – 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:

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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 – 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.

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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.

March Reading and Writing Updates

Wow! Somehow it got to be March already! And of course I’m behind schedule from where I wanted to be on my reading, but I’m not surprised, given that I set a bit of an unrealistic goal.

Looking back at February, here is how it went: I managed to finish Magical Midlife Madness by K. F. Breene (review here) and All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (review here). I just finished Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert this past weekend (technically in March) and I have a review coming up on that book later this week. With some work-related projects and other obligations, I got bogged down and didn’t get through all the other books I wanted to.

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The other books I’m currently reading are The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. With a long drive this weekend, I’m making solid progress on Harrow the Ninth because I’m listening to that as an audiobook. I also pulled out The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett (my physical non-e-book read) after I finished Magical Midlife Madness, but then decided I needed to catch up on The Dragon Reborn before starting it.

I haven’t given any writing updates recently. I hardly made any progress in February, but I’m expecting that to improve in March. Current projects include the first draft of a hard sci-fi stand alone novel with a working title of East of the Sun, continued work on a stand along sword and sorcery novel called Daughter of the Sun, and a rewrite of a short story involving dream magic. I don’t know why both novel projects involve the sun, but I think East of the Sun will get renamed at some point.

Also, if you haven’t seen it already, Brandon Sanderson sort of shamed all writers out there in regards to productivity last week. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out his video here. So clearly I need to up my writing game.

Are you reading as much as you had hoped this year? Are you a writer? Tell me about your projects in the comments above.

Book Review – All Our Wrong Todays

I’m not sure how I heard about this book, but I ended up reading it for a book club, or rather, I listened to the audiobook version. All Our Wrong Todays is written and narrated by Elan Mastai.

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Here is the blurb:

You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.

Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.

But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

This is a book about time travel and what can happen when you try to change the past. Tom Barren starts out as an unlikeable character in a utopian society where you can infer that no one is truly happy. When he ends up in an alternate time line, he must decide if it’s right or wrong to try to put things back the way they were. And what if he continues to make the world worse?

The opening of this book was a big turn off for me because of the way in which it is written (all exposition, with Tom essentially writing about what had happened), but also because I didn’t like Tom. Once he used the time machine, the story was easier to read. I did find some of the concepts interesting. Some examples include the author’s take on what happens to your consciousness when you time travel and have changed your own past, and also the horrifying experience of the traveler in one form of time travel in this story.

Elan Mastai is also a producer and writer on the television series This Is Us. Have you watched that show (I have not)? Does it share any themes with this book? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

Book Review – Gideon the Ninth

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book and finally had a chance to grab the audio edition. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the first book in The Locked Tomb series, and the audiobook is narrated by Moira Quirk.

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Here is the blurb:

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

Given that description, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. And even as I delved into it, I wasn’t on familiar ground in this story. Gideon and Harrowhark start from a place of long-standing enmity but are forced to work together to solve the mysterious challenge set before them by the Emperor amid strange necromancy, a crumbling tower of secret puzzles, and a competing cast of necromancers and cavaliers from the other houses.

As some of their number die mysteriously, suspicion between the houses increases and no one can be trusted. Does an ancient necromantic monstrosity stalk the halls of Canaan House? Are the necromancers and cavaliers stalking each other? Or is there something even darker going on?

The narrator in this audiobook is British and the accent adds an archaic flair to what is supposedly a science fiction story (given that each house occupies a different planet).

I really enjoyed this book and I’m planning to read the second one (Harrow the Ninth) soon.

Have you read Gideon the Ninth? Let me know in the comments above.

Find more of my reviews here.

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