Anyone who has read The Arabian Nights will remember, at least dimly, that Suleiman the Wise—the King Solomon of the Bible—had power over spirits, and imprisoned many of the most recalcitrant in bottles, or lamps like Aladdin’s. In the West they are simply called 'genies,' but S.A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass makes the mythological situation clearer, if much more complex ... This is a great debut novel, with strikingly different setting and cast—nary an elf or an orc in sight. Not only does it open up an imaginative space we had all but lost, it raises important issues of inclusion and diversity with engaging flair.
The City of Brass is a well paced, entertaining and solidly researched (but never boring) historical fantasy that shifts the centre away from western folklore, with a strong denouement and a craftily set up epilogue that should segue well into the next installment of the trilogy. To most (western?) readers whose only experience of the djinn is Disney, The City of Brass is going to be a lush, entertaining fable inspired by Middle Eastern and Islamic folklore that has just enough familiar elements to not be considering worrying alien, and yet is exotic enough to thrill and entice and tick off diversity boxes in the right way. Within the dynamics of the various djinn tribes, though, are nestled valid socioeconomic politics for those who wish to read a little further past the surface of the narrative.
...seems we are about to be plunged into a cultural mash-up of The Thousand and One Nights and any number of young adult novels with plucky female protagonists... Chakraborty doesn’t hold back on the Eastern glitz ...The City of Brass is standard, fast-paced fantasy fare ... Most enjoyable is the gusto with which everything is thrown into her story, from massacres to zombies to djinns ...while The City of Brass doesn’t blow away cultural notions of difference or reconfigure the male-female divide, it does exploit the genre’s penchant for inclusion ...reads like an invitation for readers from Baghdad to Fairbanks to meet across impossibly divergent worlds through the shared language and images of the fantastical.