Empire of Gold (2020) by S. A. Chakraborty

A golden palace, framed by green leaves.

While I love the world that Chakraborty has weaved in the Daevabad trilogy, the final book falls short of the grand catharsis that it has been building towards. The reason, I suspect, is two fold.

The first is that the magic system of the world is somewhat unclear. There are tiers of magical entities, but the limits of their power are vaguely defined. This would be alright however the plot relies heavily on the magic being used or abused. As such, the ambiguity makes it harder to follow what exactly is possible and more importantly, what isn’t possible. Not having this knowledge makes the reveals of the story harder to follow.

The second issue is that story has the mystery of the ‘past’, central issue, that many characters are concerned with. However, this mystery seems to drag out forever and its answers are not that exciting. It feels as if Chakraborty is a discovery writer, which is probably why her characters are so interesting and fun, but her plot lacks the polish that rigorous outlining provides. The story keeps building on pieces that it layed down just a chapter ago, using hints from previous books as acceptable foreshadowing. However, these leave the whole experience feeling flighty and too raw.

I look forward to seeing what Chakraborty writes next, the mythology she plays with is definitely exciting and her characters have a lot of heart. I just hope that her plotting and magic systems get better. A good series with an almost good enough end.

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