Review: The Empire of Gold

The Empire of Gold is the much anticipated third and final book in S.A. Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy, and I was very eager to get my hands on it after the rollercoaster excitement of the second book.

The Empire of Gold starts immediately where The Kingdom of Copper left off: Daevabad is a war zone, suddenly bereft of magic, with Dara in a position that makes him possibly both the most powerful and powerless man in the city, and Nahri and Ali unexpectedly arrive in Cairo, on the run from the chaos their families have caused.

While the book is far from slow, it does have a more restrained pace than book two, with more exposition and backstory sprinkled in than one might expect from a final book in a trilogy, but it’s all information we’ve been set up to ask for since book one. There are still a few details I have questions about, but I’m hoping a second read will clear them up (I’ll admit, I could have missed something—I have a problem pacing myself when I’m finishing a series).

The romance, which sat on the back burner in the second book, comes closer to center stage in this one. I will give the author credit for this romance, because in the first book, you could see the love triangle coming a mile a way, but over the course of the series she managed to space it out and develop her characters in a way that kept it from overrunning the rest of the story. I appreciate that Chakraborty slowed things down between Nahri and Ali as much as she did, but I wouldn’t have minded the romance in The Empire of Gold being an even slower-burn than it was, given that Nahri had a lot of other things on her plate. I know other people would complain about it not being enough, but Dara held and broke Nahri’s heart in a big way, and I find it realistic and true to her character that when love presented itself a second time, she approached it carefully.

What’s truly brilliant about this series, and why I highly recommend reading it, is the way it demonstrates the cyclical nature of violence and blame in a society and how destructive that is if left unaddressed. I love the complexity of the characters, the world, & the conflict. The heroes are human, sometimes painfully so, and while the antagonists do terrible things, they have also had terrible things done to them. No matter how much you root for or against someone, Chakraborty still manages to find a way to make you at least momentarily question your feelings.

All in all, I’m giving this one 3.5 stars out of 5. I’d say The Kingdom of Copper is my favorite book of the series, but The Empire of Gold is a solid, satisfying finish to a series that always kept me on my toes, and I’m certain it’s one I’ll revisit from time to time.

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