✨Age Range: Adult
✨Series: 3rd in a trilogy
✨Publication Date: 11th June, 2020 (UK) / 30th June, 2020 (US)
✨Publisher: Harper Voyager (US and UK)
✨Format I Read: Audiobook
✨Content Warning: Violence, torture, death, intergenerational trauma and mentions of genocide
Spoiler alert for The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper
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.
Characters and Representation in The Empire of Gold
This aspect of the book got 5 stars from me just because of Dara’s character arc. The chapters from his point of view were very intense and dark, but they perfectly captured his inner conflict. The final scene with Dara made me tear up and it was amazing to see his growth throughout the series.
My favourite throughout the trilogy was Nahri and her character continued to grow in this book too. She showed more vulnerability and her characteristic wit in conning her enemies. The only part that I couldn’t get behind was how the nature of Nahri and Ali’s relationship changed.
Talking about Ali, his point of view chapters were my least favourite, which left me disappointed, especially after all the development in The Kingdom of Copper. Manizheh was really impressive as the main antagonist. I was glad to see more from other characters like Jamshid, Hatset and a few new ones as well.
Plot and World-Building in The Empire of Gold
The plot was a bit of a let-down for me in the first two parts of the book. Ali and Nahri’s journey, although filled with danger and wonder, lacked tension and fell a bit flat. However, the author excels at writing dramatic and mind-blowing endings, which redeemed The Empire of Gold in my eyes.
The whole series followed a similar structure where a slowly simmering beginning and middle serve to setup an explosive climax. After that epic saga spaced over three books, I thought that the way things wrapped up was done masterfully. It brought Dara, Ali and Nahri’s stories full circle and I felt like re-reading the series all over again after getting to the end.
The world-building throughout the entire series was wonderfully rich and complex, drawing from historical accounts, folktales and legends. I loved how every book added more layers to it and was most impressed by the descriptions of Ta Ntry in this instalment. I also liked how we got more than just the djinn politics and the scope was expanded to address the peri, marid, daeva and ifrit conflict.
Writing Style and Themes in The Empire of Gold
While I didn’t find the writing style particularly remarkable, it had a familiar cadence as I recently re-read the other two books. I read them all in audiobook format and thought that the narrator did a good enough job. However, some of the incorrect pronunciations threw me off sometimes.
Coming to the themes, the way this book handled war, social prejudices and the concept of justice by injecting real-world history into a fantasy setting was brilliant. The reason I could identify with the themes in this series so much was that the society of Daevabad mirrored the one I live in very closely. This gave me some wonderful perspectives that challenged my beliefs and taught me a great deal.
With a world that’s as complicated as this one, there could be no easy answers and Chakraborty did not offer any. All the main characters were flawed and unlearnt their harmful behaviours as the story progressed, which was both relatable and inspirational. Even though it was very dark and grim in places, the thread of hope and resilience woven through it was the highlight of the entire trilogy for me.
Overall, The Empire of Gold was a fitting conclusion to a magnificent epic fantasy series. I wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of adult fantasy even though it’s not a technical masterpiece. If lush world-building and political intrigue is what draws you into a fantasy story, this one has plenty to offer. Now that the final book is out, it’s the perfect time to immerse yourself into the magical world of Daevabad and its many wonders. If you are more used to fast-paced plots and thinner tomes, this may not be the best match for you.
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Is A Song of Wraiths and Ruin on your TBR yet? Are you a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope? Do you have any SFF books by Black authors to recommend to me? Let me know in the comments section down below. Hope you are having a magical week, readers from Earth!