Battle of the books: The City of Brass vs. An Ember in The Ashes

Posted March 23, 2020 by Laurie in Reviews / 1 Comment

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted any reviews lately. This has a reason, I was kind of bored out and felt really uninspried. Take that and combine it with a lack of energy and you have your reasons. However, I wanted to try something new. Without further ado, I present you: the battle of the books! In this first edition, it’s The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty vs. An Ember in The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.

About The City of Brass

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

About An Ember in The Ashes

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.   Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.   It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.   But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.   There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Why these two books?

Well, when you compare the synopsis of both books, you see many similarities. At first, both books have a female and male point of view. Second, both Nahri and Laia are fleeing from a dangerous situation. To me, The City of Brass sounded like the adult version of An Ember in the Ashes.


For both books, my expectations were high. I read An Ember in the Ashes back in 2018, but I remember that I was really curious about it. I suppose my expectations for The City of Brass were even higher as many people seemed to love it. Well, my expectations were not really met. I was struggling with An Ember in the Ashes at first, but ended up reading the rest of the series. However, The City of Brass was so incredibly boring, holy moly. I was really disappointed.


I have to admit, the plot of The City of Brass sounded interesting. However, I noticed many similarities with An Ember in the Ashes quickly enough as in the second or third chapter, the same creatures came along. That’s when I started to get the feeling that The City of Brass is the adult equivalent of An Ember in the Ashes. So far, I liked The City of Brass. However, it went downhill with that book afterwards. I just couldn’t care anymore and yes, I kept falling asleep. Like, nothing happened at all and on the 50% mark, I lost interest.

An Ember in the Ashes on the other hand stayed exciting. Yes, I struggled, but at least there was a competition going on in that book. Four students were competing to become emperor and their bloodshrike, but in The City of Brass, there was no extra element present. Furthermore, there were so many different tribes and such with such similar names I just couldn’t remember who belonged to which tribe and who was who.


The male characters in both books were rebelling against set rules, but in An Ember in the Ashes we at least have a strong female protagonist. Where Nahri is incredibly naive and stupid, Laia is on a mission and fights for it. Furthermore, the relationship in The City of Brass was both abusive and oppressive, Nahri got told what to do and so on. No, I’m not a fan.

Writing style

First of all, The City of Brass was way and way to long for its boring plot. I am not a fan of Chakraborty’s writing. I have to admit that I struggled with Tahir’s writing as well, but the book kept me interested as the plot was interesting. I wanted to know what happened in An Ember in the Ashes and I didn’t feel that at all with The City of Brass.

Do we have a winner?

Yes, we do have a winner.

The City of Brass

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

An Ember in the Ashes

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Which book did win this battle for you and why?


One response to “Battle of the books: The City of Brass vs. An Ember in The Ashes

  1. I can’t say much about these books as I haven’t read either of them, but I really like the concept of the battle of the books! Do you think you’ll be making a series out of it?if I happen to have some fits, sure!

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