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Book: “The River of Silver” by S. A. Chakraborty
Publishing Info: Harper Voyager, October 2022
Where Did I Get this Book: ALA convention!
Book Description: Bestselling author S. A. Chakraborty’s acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy gets expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, all from the perspective of characters both beloved and hated, and even those without a voice in the novels. The River of Silver gathers material both seen and new–including a special coda fans will need to read–making this the perfect complement to those incredible novels.
Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. Explore this magical kingdom, hidden from human eyes. A place where djinn live and thrive, fight and love. A world where princes question their power, and powerful demons can help you…or destroy you.
A prospective new queen joins a court whose lethal history may overwhelm her own political savvy…
An imprisoned royal from a fallen dynasty and a young woman wrenched from her home cross paths in an enchanted garden…
A pair of scouts stumble upon a secret in a cursed winter wood that will turn over their world…
From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.
Review: This collection was released as an audiobook around a year or so ago, I believe. But I knew if I just stuck it out, it would be released in hardcover as well. What good publisher would turn away the opportunity to cash in on another installation in a beloved fantasy trilogy? I also held off because this was one of those cases where I wondered if it might be difficult to transition between having read the entire first trilogy in print and then to listen to this one as an audiobook. For one thing, I’m sure I was mispronouncing tons of names and words. And with that being the case, I worried that returning to this world a few years after the last book released and listening to a version where some of the words were pronounced differently than the way I (erroneously) had been used to…well, let’s just say the world and the history of this fantasy series has never been the most easy to get straight so I wasn’t about to add another layer! So, lucky me that I was able to nab an early ARC of this at ALA and get on with things!
I’m going to skip my typical paragraph detailing a summary of this book. For one thing, I think the one provided by the publisher is more than enough. And for another, it’s hard to really summarize a collection of stories that are each separate mini stories in and of themselves. This is all the harder when these stories are woven before, between, and after the events of a previously written trilogy that, itself, takes place over a good number of years. There’s a lot of history and time covered in this book and, frankly, it would be impossible for me to summarize it further!
So, first off, this is definitely the kind of collection that must, must, must be read after completely the initial trilogy. There isn’t a single story in this collection that doesn’t touch on characters and histories that were further detailed in that series, and thus would all be completely meaningless to somehow coming at it as a stand-alone.
Second off, I’ll say that this book would probably be appreciated most being read directly after completing the initial trilogy. As I said, those books make up a complicated and rich world and history, and much of that is touched on here. Even just the few years that I’ve had between completing the last book and picking up this one left me feeling like I was having to really work to recall how everything fit together.
But taking this into account, this was a supremely well-done collection of stories. I went in not really know whose stories we were going to hear, when they were going to take place, or anything really. And one after another I found myself surprised and intrigued by the insights into the world and characters we were given. Chakraborty in no way wrote this book as fan service; while there are surely characters everyone wanted to hear more from, there are also a number of characters who were either villains, side characters, or even characters we had only heard about in passing (or not at all).
I really liked the way the book was organized, moving in chronological order from stories taking place before “The City of Brass” until its last few entries that take place after “The Empire of Gold.” In this way, it was easy to slot in these added layers of depth to what I remembered happening in the original trilogy. Even more impressive, some of the early stories helped to lay the groundwork for insights that were going to come from stories later in this very collection. In that way, the book felt like a word in and of itself, rather than just an assortment of long footnotes for the initial trilogy.
If you enjoyed the original Daevabad trilogy, this is an absolute must read. It adds so much depth to the story as a whole, especially some of the characters we only met briefly before who are more fleshed out here. It was also simply a sheer joy to return world and be reminded just how much of a powerhouse Chakraborty is as a writer. She has a new book coming out this spring, and this just made the itch all the stronger to get my hands on it as soon as possible.
Rating 9: A must-read for fans of the original series, this book accomplishes the impossible of not only making those books all the better for the added context but of being a fantastic reading experience in and of itself.
“The River of Silver” isn’t on any Goodreads lists, but it should be on Best Fantasy Short Story Collections.