Daevabad has fallen.
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.
But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.
Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.
As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.
I’m not even sure how I can review this book properly because it will probably just be full of gushing followed by some bittersweet tears that this journey is over. It’s no secret that I have a love/hate relationships with endings and it’s rare that a series conclusion will hit all the right notes for me, but I’m happy to say that this is one of those times. I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler free as possible for this and previous books in the series so apologies is some events I mention are intentionally vague.
So this picks up right where the previous book ended and we follow along from mostly three different persepectives–Nahri, Ali, and Dara. They’re busy dealing with the aftermath of everything from the end of book two–which is a doooooozy and a shocker. Nahri and Ali find themselves in the a world away from everything magic. Ali is seriously injured and Nahri has to rely on how smarts and her non-magical skills in order to save him. Meanwhile back in Dara and company have accomplished their goal but at what cost? And it seems there are factions still working against them as well as the further complication from the end of book two to deal with. Lot’s of fall out to get through before everyone can start plotting their next moves.
One of the most amazing things about this series, and it’s continued in this book, is the way the author manages to change your perception of a character and have you empathize with them or, conversely, hate their guts–all this while never changing who the character is fundamentally. This happens several times throughout the series and there’s some in this final installment as well. I don’t know how she does it but it’s masterful and I love the way it makes me reevaluate my perceptions. Of course, there are some characters who are just, well, bad. Doing things for the wrong reasons. Liars. Manipulators. It’s always nice to have a really strong Big Bad to root against at the core of things and we have that here as well. Although I will admit the author even had me empathizing with Manizheh at one point and I was like ‘what are you doing, pull yourself together, she’s the enemy!’. But a lot of this book was spent going ‘I love Dara! Ugh, I hate Dara, why Dara?!’ ‘I love Ali!’ ‘No, Ali what are you doing??? Aaaaahhhh!’ I guess I just really love characters that can be a bit unpredictable at times? I want to root for them but sometimes they make it so hard! But I love it because, yes, make me work for it! LOL
The other thing I love about this book and the others before it, is the amount of surprises! Part of that is due to the characters (see above) but a lot of it is just that the author likes to continually drop huge plot twists and revelations upon us poor unsuspecting readers. This final installment was no exception–plenty of reveals, things that I didn’t see coming at all because, hey, I thought we’d established that in the previous book but apparently nope! Lying liars are going to lie until the end, it seems. Hahaha, I love it. These revelations are wonderful because they really punch you in the gut or turn the world upside down. What you thought was true isn’t true and now there’s this whole other truth you have to deal with. This is the kind of emotional roller coaster I love to be on as a reader, but it has to be done right and the authors pulls it off every time.
Through everything, Nahri remains the core of the story. She’s the one thing that pushes things forward and keeps the book centered. No matter what is happening with everything else you want things to turn out well for her after all she’s been through. I love all the other characters as well, but what I was hoping for most is that she would somehow get a happy ending or at least an ending worthy of her. And I have to say, the story finished off in a really satisfying way. Yes, I may have shed some tears here and there but this ending worked and most of all it felt earned–not just for Nahri but for all the characters. I want to take a moment as well to recognize one of the other core strengths of the book is the relationships between the characters. Whether it’s a sibbling, mentor/mentee, lovers, parent/child, etc. They’re messy and wonderfully written. Things between people are complicated! And they’re not stagnant! It’s like the relationships are a net around the plot that keeps threatening to burst out and get away from us but they hold it all together.
Overall, thought this was an amazing conclusion to the series and I’m so excited to see what this author writes next. I hope the next story is as much of a wild ride as this one has been. 5/5 stars.