In the first book of the Daevabad trilogy, Islamic mythology comes to life to create a world filled with Djinns, Ifrits and other fantastical beings. The story centers around three characters, one is a con artist with supernatural gifts, another is a prince of a legendary city, while the third is a feared warrior Djinn. Each must attempt to find a balance between the actions expected from them because of their public positions versus the actions they feel are morally right while navigating through a dangerous city where one misstep could lead to disastrous consequences.
In her debut novel, S.A. Chakraborty begins her story in 18th century Cairo and weaves together an adventure story with a dash of romance and plenty of political intrigue. It’s told from two very different perspectives, with both characters struggling with their own morality in a world where high-ranking positions have power that can be brutal with seemingly little consequences.
One of our main characters, Nahri, is a con artist who does not believe in magic and uses quick thinking and deception to make a living by extorting money from the wealthy through their superstitious beliefs. During one of her cons, Nahri accidentally summons a fierce Djinn warrior, Dara. Because of Nahri’s lineage, Dara is tasked with finding a safe location for her now that she’s shown to have otherworldly powers and is being pursued by other, not-quite-as-friendly, mythological beings.
Our other main character, Alizyd, is an idealistic second prince who is working to prevent an uprising in his city due to socio-political tensions. When the story brings Nahri to Alizyd’s city, the citizens that have been repressed for centuries see her as a beacon of hope and rally around her. This only continues to escalate tensions and increase danger in an already treacherous city.
Mix together Nahri, Dara and Alizyd’s diverse plots and you get an engaging tale incorporating different aspects of Islamic mythology to capture the reader from start to finish. I’m excited to see what the second book in this trilogy has in store.