Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
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.
Alrighty, this might contain spoilers for the first two books so read at your own risk!
First of all, wow. What a solid ending. Like I don’t even know where to begin because overall, the storytelling was brilliant and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time especially because of the way KoC ended.
I’m not nearly smart enough to properly share my thoughts about the political commentary and everything but I just REALLY loved how literally EVERY character wasn’t wholly good. I loved the darkness that was explored and how everything was just complete chaos. I mean like I knew things were gonna go badly, but did I expect this amount of glorious chaos? NOT AT ALL.
I really enjoyed diving deeper into the Qahtani family’s history and backstory. What was interesting about the narrative was that even though Nahri and Ali were essentially in the same situation for half the book, the way the narrative switched provided this information that progressed the story without feeling repetitive. And while I personally don’t like Dara (because following orders isn’t an excuse to commit genocide sorry not sorry), his chapters provided this stark contrast to what was happening to the other characters. The narrative switch was jarring and I feel like that was intended?
Not only did Dara’s POV actually have a proper arc this time around (I found myself actually understanding Dara near the end which… that came out of left field for me), but because it was distinct from the other POV’s it added to the “glorious chaos” of the storytelling. There were points where I didn’t really understand why we were getting Dara’s POV when it would have really been interesting to get into Manizheh’s mind or Kaveh’s or Zaynab’s POV for certain situations, but I think it provided that character contrast that was interesting to see. The Dara and Ali switches were very distinct and interesting!
Also can we just talk about the plot and how for about 30% of the book I straight up had my hand on my head I was SO STRESSED. It was wild. I loved every second. This is the only type of stress I like!
I don’t think the story could have wrapped up any other way, just from the way it was laid out from the first book. I think the foundation was so perfectly laid out that this ending left me actually satisfied, which is already difficult when it’s such a hyped book that everyone is looking forward to. I wrote this review two weeks after finishing the book and I still feel the same contentment that I felt when I actually finished the book, which is HARD because finales are always difficult.
So anyway, this was just a really solid ending. And hopefully this whole review made sense! I’m going to have another post about some more spoilery thoughts probably later, so maybe stay tuned for that?