I think it’s a well established fact that I adore The Daevabad Trilogy and I could truly talk about all the different things I love about it. I do, in fact, have a whole section on my blog dedicated to the trilogy, which you can find here. Today I want to talk about specifically why I love Ali and Nahri and why their relationship means so much to me.
As a reader I have of course many ships like all of us do, characters who’s relationships we love because of the way they develop and the angst and the romance so much more. But Ali and Nahri came along and completely took my breath away at just how real and relatable they were to me. I haven’t read another book with a couple quite like there’s and how much of myself and my husband and out relationship I saw in them. I have said it before but one of the reasons why I fell so completely in love with Ali is because he reminds me of my husband in so many ways.
Nahri is someone I saw myself in a lot. She has lived a life where trusting people is difficult, she can only truly rely on herself to get through and I felt that. So opening up and trusting someone is incredibly difficult for her and when she finally does, he breaks her trust so spectacularly that she completely closes herself up to prevent the hurt and betrayal she felt happening again. That hurt and betrayal was so real to me, it takes a long time to overcome and does it ever truly go away? How do you overcome a lifetime of not being able to trust anyone and being hurt again and again.
I also find it hard to trust people and truly I related to Nahri so much in this especially, how she was so hesitant to build anything between her and Ali because she had been hurt so many times. Keeping him at a distance was safer for her heart, she can’t be hurt again if she doesn’t build an attachment to him beyond him. But he was something so wholly unexpected that despite herself she ended up becoming attached anyways. He was the one real friend who accepted her completely and entirely for who she was, human appearance and all. So much so that despite not being able to see him for 5 years her feelings had not diminished in the slightest.
Nahri is a pragmatic person so to have suddenly developed these feelings for someone who could hurt her in so many ways would have been terrifying. Admitting these feelings even more so. When I finally admitted I maybe had some feelings for my now husband I shook so hard and trembled for ages after. I can see why Nahri took so long even admitting these feelings to herself let alone anyone else, especially to Ali. Ali who could hurt and betray her because of who his family is. Ali, who’s family don’t like Nahri for the most part and who’s father uses her for political gain. Admitting to someone like that, that you have feelings for them is no small thing.
Alizayd al Qahtani is a character who I truly thought had leaped out of the pages in the form of my husband. Like Ali he is oblivious when it comes to speaking to women, social skills aren’t his greatest asset and he has no filter when he speaks. He also is someone who tries to follow and practice Islam to the best of his ability while also sometimes having tunnel vision and not always seeing that things aren’t as black and white as he assumes. Younger husband was exactly like Ali when it came to being uncompromising in his beliefs, he has now realised there is more to Islam than just a list of yes and no answers.
When I met my husband my immediate thought was that he is very tall and bless his heart for the sort of almost there beard that he is clearly desperately trying to grow. And then almost 10 years later reading Nahri’s first impression of Ali to be so similar to mine?!
It was however his complete inability to speak to girls that first endeared him to me. How excitedly he would talk about things he loved and how completely flustered he became when a girl did try to flirt with him. It has actually been over 6 years since we’ve been married and he still gets flustered when I, his wife, flirts with him. I love that about him though because when he does say something, I know he isn’t sugar coating or before we were married just trying to sound good. That was just him being him saying exactly what he felt. Can you see how he is so like Ali in so many ways? And why Ali would mean so much to me? He is my husband with pointy ears and water magic!
Oh lets not forget how just like Ali my husband has no clue how to dress up, he is most happy in his thobe and dressing up nice requires outside assistance from his wife. But when he does well lets just say I feel Nahri when she thinks about how well formed Ali is. Ali may not be the best with his words when it comes to expressing how he feels but he does show it through the things he does for Nahri. From getting her favourite Egyptian food made to building her office to look like Cairo and just supporting her in what she does and truly, completely accepting her for who she is. My husband may not know how to express himself but he does it through bringing me tea in bed at the weekends and holding me up so I can walk to the bathroom when my pain is at its worst to the forehead kisses. When we got married the day after the walima I was in tears because I missed my family and he drove me home to see them because he literally cannot see me upset. He is still like this now too.
Their tentative friendship which became something more and that neither of them saw that coming was something so completely relatable. When I met my husband I was not at all in any way interested in meeting a guy, I wanted to get my degree and work on my career as a Physiotherapist and yet Allah had other plans when He sent my husband into the same class as mine and had me sit in front of him in that Monday morning lecture.
We were friends for a while before we realised that maybe there was something more (also friends telling us that we did in fact like each other which we vehemently denied). I was the one who decided to take the risk and say something and we also had to deal with our families who did not like each other when they met and were against us marrying (it took 5 years for us to actually get married after we told our families) and now we have been married for 6 and a half years and have our own little shedu called Sherlock. Seeing Ali and Nahri and reading their journey and how their relationship progressed through the years and how so insanely similar it was to ours probably made me love them even more than I do for any other characters.
I will forever be thankful to Shannon for bringing these characters to life in a way that I made me completely fall in love with them individually and together. Reading about their relationship and the way it grew slowly and hesitantly into something more was so deeply relatable and I saw me and my husband in them in a way that showed me things about us that I hadn’t even realised. From why it was so terrifying to putting my trust in him and more.
And if you haven’t read this trilogy I highly recommend reading it. You can also find more posts about the Daevabad trilogy on my blog here.