Reviewing a second instalment in a series or trilogy is always hard because you have to remember to not spoil the book before as well as the current one. I shall persevere, don’t worry!
Before I dive in, I have to say the pacing and writing overall is much improved in this book. There is a huge difference between this and City of Brass, which was really gratifying to see. The writing is absolutely exquisite just as it was in the previous instalment. It immersed me right back into the story and the world from the very first few sentences, that’s just how atmospheric and magical it is.
The descriptions are also incredibly immersive; they feel like a living thing, a character of their own. I could easily imagine myself in every scene of the book.
This is the book where the characters fully come into themselves and are able to really develop. Initially, it was a little disappointing that Nahri and Dara didn’t have a scene together in the novel for its majority. However, upon reflection, it was for the best. It gave me as a reader the chance to see their characters and personalities reacting to situations that didn’t involve the other.
I also really liked seeing Dara’s point of view in this book! Seeing his perspective broadens your understanding of the war and what is going on. I may not like him as a person, but I definitely love the complexity of his character. And the access we have to him now shows his inner-depths perfectly.
But it wasn’t just the big conflict the author portrayed well. There was conflict among the family, and the author really captured how complicated feelings for family members can be. There was also conflict within characters, when they had to make decisions with no easy answers.
Chakraborty also managed to build the tension higher and higher throughout the book, which really gripped me. There was a lot of political intrigue, but it was done in a way that made the political tension just as terrifying as a physical war would be. At times, the book was dark and full of violence and chaos. And when everything did start crashing down towards the end, it was intense.
Nahri is much more mature and less… flighty. The five years between the events of City of Brass and now in Kingdom of Copper have served her well and really led to Nahri changing and becoming more adept at navigating the royal court and life as a princess.
Also, Ali! You thought I forgot about him, didn’t you? Whilst I adored him in book one as you know from my review, in book two Ali has my heart. He was more intune with his emotions and he has lost some (not all) of his idealism. The real world and its horrors finally caught up to him as he experienced life outside the palace. The five years between book one and book two turned him into a man. That is not to say that all his naivety has disappeared; many of his actions are similar to those of the old Ali. And that can be a little frustrating.
I genuinely really adore him with Nahri. I think they balance each other really well, and I think she deserves to be with someone who respects her, someone who would never manipulate her for his own gain.
Now, a bit more about politics. I really enjoyed them in book one, although they often felt a bit overwhelming. This book had just the right amount of intrigue and family drama and city politics. There was no one right side. Everyone is standing in a morally gray area, doing what they need for what they believe is their right. Everyone believes themselves justified in their cruel actions and their hatred. Everyone was equally wrong, and yet, in a way, I could completely see and understand where each of them was coming from. To manage such a complex system in a book this big is certainly a talent that S. A. Chakraborty has clearly mastered.
And that ending! I was honestly so stressed for the entire last 20% of this book. The ending completely threw me and made me really excited for The Empire of Gold. I will be getting my hands on it soon!
Overall, this is a much better book compared to City of Brass, and I am enjoying watching the author improve with each book.