The Empire of Gold, S.A. Chakraborty; Soneela Nankani, narrator (HarperAudio 978-0-06295660-6, $48.99, digital download, 28.5 hr., unabridged) June 2020.
The Daevabad trilogy comes to a thrilling and emotionally satisfying end. Nahri, a former Cairo con artist turned magical healer and displaced heir to a kingdom of djinn and daeva, unexpectedly finds herself in Egypt again, along with her friend and brother-in-law, Prince Ali, who now bears the Seal of Suleiman, which confers the rule over Daevabad and, apparently, control of the magic in it. Nahri’s mother Manizheh seizes the throne amidst the turmoil, but her heavy-handed form of rule, exemplified by the near-genocide of a tribe of djinn she employed to get it, heightens the tensions and the violence in a city on the brink of civil war. The daeva warrior Dara, who has always prided himself on his loyalty to Manizheh’s family, now starts to question it, but by the time he slowly gets around to believing he might be on the wrong side, it seems too late for him to act. Meanwhile, Nahri and Ali face an arduous journey back to Daevabad. All three of them will have to make some profound sacrifices if they are to save the city from Manizheh’s tyranny and forge a new beginning for all the peoples of Daevabad: djinn, daeva, and the part-human shafit.
As in the previous two installments, the story is so compelling and Soneela Nankani is so convincingly good at narration, emoting, and dialogue that I vanished utterly into the story – except for moments that felt so emotionally devastating that I had to take a break (that’s a compliment, not a criticism). At the end of book two, I genuinely could not see how Chakraborty would find her way out of such a tangle. I was wrong to doubt; she answered all of the burning questions I had and resolved all of the conflicts in a thoroughly genuine way. Fantastic.
This review and more like it in the January 2021 issue of Locus.
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