Book: The River of Silver
Author: S.A. Chakraborty
Narrator: Soneela Nankani
BECHDEL TEST: Uncertain, didn’t keep track!
Content Warnings: Mentions of past suicide attempts, torture, attempted rape, mentions of war, genocide
SPOILER WARNING: This review may contain spoilers for all three books of the Daevabad trilogy. If you have not read them, and do not wish to be spoiled, stop reading here.
After devouring the entirety of the Daevabad trilogy during the first lockdown in 2020 (well mostly anyway!), I really wasn’t expecting there to be any more content from the Daevabad world. So my surprise and delight when I saw that SA Chakraborty had released a collection of short stories from the Daevabad world this year was naturally very high! I’m always a little wary of short story collections as I’ve found them very hit and miss and there’s always a few stories that tend to fall a little short. This was no exception, there were some really outstanding stories, but there were also a few that I did wonder why they made the collection. Still, it was a great treat to return to the Daevabad world, and I would happily do so again if SA Chakraborty were to decide she wanted to write more stories in this world. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
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.
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…
Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. 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.
As I stated at the top of the review, I had mixed opinions on the different stories, I think that’s only natural, there were about fifteen different stories here and I was more invested in certain characters than others when I read the original books anyway, so I don’t think I would have ever loved all the different stories equally. Some of my favourites were Zaynab’s story which showed in more detail what she did during the battle in Kingdom of Copper, I loved seeing more of Zaynab and wished we could have had even more from her (she only gets one story where she is the main focus, though she does play a role in a second one) whereas Ali and Muntadhir are featured more heavily. I also really loved seeing the early development of Jamshid and Muntadhir’s relationship as it gave me an insight into both of them that you don’t really get in the book.
Other stories I could have done without, the story about the scouts in the wilderness of Daevstana and what they discover there, kind of bored me, I didn’t really care about some random scout, even if the story did give a nod to one of the major reveals of Kingdom of Copper. The story with Dara and Nahri on their way to Daevabad in The City of Brass, whilst funny, also didn’t really add much.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Hatset’s story, we don’t get to see an awful lot of her in the main trilogy, only in the final book, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much. She’s a very interesting character, and if Chakraborty ever wanted to write more about her, I would definitely read it.
I can understand why she didn’t, but I think it might have been fun to see a story from Ghassan’s POV, we get a glimpse through Hatset of a not so tyrannical man once upon a time, so I just think it might have been interesting to see through the eyes of a younger Ghassan himself. Also I just always love the villain so even a story with him being evil would have been fun.
I really appreciate that Chakraborty signposted the spoilery stories, so you could avoid them if you hadn’t yet read that book. Personally I would recommend reading all three before this one as I think you’ll get much more out of it, though I will admit, having read them almost two years ago, there was a lot I had forgotten!
I was glad Soneela Nankani returned once again as the narrator, I enjoyed her in the original trilogy, so I was glad to see she narrated again here.
Some of the stories were a little longer than I would have liked, there was Jamshid chapter that was almost an hour long and the Alternative Epilogue to the Empire of Gold, fun as it was, was also almost an hour long and I prefer chapters to really be 30 mins or less as a rule, 40 is okay, but once we start getting to 45-50 or longer, it just starts to feel a little tedious to listen to.
I would love a spinoff about Dara, Aqisa and Zaynab after that alternative epilogue, that sounds like it would be a lot of fun and I really hope that Chakraborty wants to expand on that someday!
I did find some of the stories a little hard to follow, like the Jamshid one taking place during the days leading up to and during the final battle in City of Brass and the Ali one that took place between City of Brass and Kingdom of Copper, there was so much jammed into them that I found I lost my place in the story several times whilst listening.
I love the humour in this series, there were so many funny moments across all of the stories.
It was really nice to see Jamshid and Muntadhir in a good place in this (for the most part), there are quite a few fakeouts where either one or both of them nearly die in the trilogy, so it was nice to see the pair of them together and happy for a change in at least some of the stories!
Having some of the gaps filled into what happened in Nahri and Muntadhir’s marriage was also really great, I felt like we lost quite a lot there with the five year time gap between City of Brass and Kingdom of Copper, so it was nice to have a little of that fleshed out here.
I can’t really get too into it without being super spoilery, but that final Nahri story was just *chef’s kiss* such a treat for fans of the trilogy. I won’t say anymore, only that it takes place after The Empire of Gold, and I’m sure you’ll all love it!
There’s not a massive amount more to say about this book without getting into super spoilery territory, so all I can say is: I do think this is worth a read if you liked the Daevabad trilogy. Yes, there were some stories that stood out more than others, and some that I personally would probably have pruned from the collection, but overall, this was a very welcome return to the Daevabad world, and gives some great insight into characters who don’t get the spotlight in the main trilogy, and allows even more of an expansion for some of our old favourites as well.
My Rating: 3/5
My next review will be of The Diamond Eye, Kate Quinn’s latest novel, which I think I will be done with in the next week or two. I’m really enjoying it, definitely one of my favourite reads of the year so far, for sure.