The Kingdom of Copper is the second book in S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy, and it has me itching to get my hands on book number three.
As I described in my review of the first book, The City of Brass, the series follows Nahri, a former Cairo con-woman now training in the healing arts of her long-lost djinn ancestors, Ali, a second-born prince now exiled to protect the stability of his family’s rule, and Dara, a centuries-old warrior finally freed from the servitude of humans. The Kingdom of Copper offers a prologue detailing the immediate aftermath of the events in book one, then jumps ahead five years, finding two of our protagonists more seasoned and mature as they look for small ways to improve their world, and one somewhat disillusioned and resigned to his fate. As Nahri and Ali are once more drawn together on a project to bring their tribes closer and establish a lasting peace in Daevabad, Dara finds himself in a remote corner of his country, no longer the man he was and with seemingly no choice but to move forward as the weapon he was designed to be.
While The City of Brass laid the groundwork for the coming conflict and built up the world of the story, The Kingdom of Copper shakes that world and raises the stakes, forcing the characters to question where they stand and the cost of doing so. The romance, which I’d been worried about in book one, takes a back-seat (it might even be more accurate to say it’s locked in the trunk) in this book while the conflict drives the story forward, which I found rather refreshing.
What I really appreciate about this series is how rooted that conflict is in the world-building, and how realistic it is. Daevabad is a city entrenched in ancient tribal grudges; every side has been wronged, but every side also has quite a bit of blood on its hands. There are no “good guys” and “bad guys,” but instead a lot of hurt and angry guys, struggling either to keep the peace, survive, or gain power, with various combinations making up each camp and arguing with each other over how to move forward. Enemies (intentional or not) aren’t only without but within, with the biggest obstacle often being the willingness to be the first to take a leap of faith and act in trust. This type of nuanced conflict also leads to some great character dynamics, where two characters whose relationship in the first book I might have called unshakeable are suddenly in a position where I’m wondering if one might not end up killing the other.
All in all, I’m giving The Kingdom of Copper 4 stars, and I cannot wait to dive into book three, The Empire of Gold, to find out how this series ends.