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The Empire of Gold: 3 (Daevabad Trilogy)

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I truly enjoyed seeing Dara and Manizheh struggle with ruling with what they had conquered, and that it didn’t just fall into place and the spiralling effects that came from that. Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad's deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. Whereas Dara is questioning what is morally right, and whether his actions at the behest of Manizheh are morally right, Ali and Nahri spend most of their time together, ignoring the fact that they have feelings for each other. I know the books aren’t about *romance* but to feature it semi-heavily in all the books, I was just a tad bummed at how the relationships are handled.

But Nahri is Shafit, which means half human and therefore she is discriminated against often by the pureblood magical people. I’m not a fan of their relationship, especially not because it took over so much of this book that I had hoped would spend the time on other things.

I really enjoyed their story line, both in terms of actiony bits, new revelations about both their pasts, and in terms of their evolving feelings. I also really missed Daevabad in this one, but not enough to make Dara favorite POV character 😁 I hated him from the get go – Because yes, I kind of see parts of where he’s coming from, but you can’t just go around murdering thousands of people for stupid reasons and expect me to be okay with it! But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. Manizheh is a “at whatever cost” kind of person, and I just can’t get behind that – not with the choices she makes. He’s definitely pampered, but he stood his ground when it counted, when everything else was taken from him.

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. The ending was ultimately satisfying, without getting into spoilery territory, I appreciated that it fitted with the overall story and there was no everything gets wrapped up in a big neat bow, all the characters end in a good place but it’s clear that there is still a long way to go before Ali and Nahri’s vision for a united Daevabad comes to pass, which I felt was very realistic for this world, the tribes aren’t going to abandon their beliefs about the other tribes overnight. Nahri’s parentage has been a long running thread throughout the series, and it was resolved in a really satisfying way here. I’m of course talking about the moment where she poisoned Jamshid in a way that robbed him of the use of his legs 😡 That was beyond cruel!

She portrays a particularly oppressive state, with a system designed to crush resistance, and places within it people who are willing to fight for justice. Despite what Nahri and Ali were feeling at the beginning of this book, I loved seeing them in this setting. Of course, doing so also means that they have to confront their own pasts, and as readers we also bear witness to the shocking revelations that take place throughout the novel, including the reveal that Nahri is Manizheh’s niece rather than her daughter and that Ali is himself descended from the Nile marid Sobek.

But it does promise that things will be better, and that’s about as good an ending as I can hope for. It’s the best kind of slow burn; their friendship is so strong, and Ali’s conservative reservations so great as Nahri slowly overcomes them. Nahri plays a secondary character as Dara and Ali grow further into themselves and Jamshid joins the narrative to a fuller degree. Personally, I also wanted to see Nahri beg for Jamshid’s forgiveness and him being reluctant to give it, but that’s probably just me.Ali’s tale has been one of slowly loosening up, of learning that the world isn’t black or white but mostly gray. Jang Tae-joo comes from nothing, and his ambition is fuelled after witnessing the misfortunes of his poor hardworking father. This is, of course, utter bullshit, and you need look no farther than the first book my club read together, The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec. Meanwhile, Dara explores his new form and its meanings, trying to come to terms with the destiny that has been crafted for him since he was a young man and how all that idealism and all those promises have resulted in monstrosities, culminating in an unsteady alliance with the Ifrit.

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