Today for the World of Daevabad Blog Tour I have a guest post by Jade! She is going to be discussing the parallels between Ali and Nahri in The City of Brass. Enjoy!
During my rereads of the Daevabad Trilogy, I’ve noticed something curious about the two main protagonists, Nahri and Prince Alizayd. While they are definitely their own characters with their own arcs, they also share a surprising amount of similarities and parallels, even down to the language used. From their echoed actions and thoughts to certain life circumstances, Nahri and Ali are like two corner pieces that eventually meet in the middle.
Featuring major spoilers for The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper, I’ve compiled a list with 39 examples. However because of the length, I am splitting this into two posts, to cover each book. I’ve further divided these into three categories: actions/thoughts, life circumstances, and skills/interests, with quotes and page numbers (from the US hardback copies) for context. Let’s dive in!
THE CITY OF BRASS (19)
- Believing Daeva (& Nahid) shafit were probably killed as babies. CoB (Ali, ch. 6 pg. 128: “They probably smother them in their cradles.” and Nahri, ch. 7 pg. 143: “I probably would have been killed before my first birthday!”)
- Didn’t want to walk to the garden together when they first met. CoB (Nahri, ch. 16 pg. 284: “‘That isn’t necessary,’ she protested. She wasn’t the only one. Alizayd pointed in Dara’s direction, a flurry of Geziriyya coming from his mouth.”)
- Secretly observing the other, but Ali got caught. CoB (Nahri, ch. 16 pg. 285: “He glanced over, probably in the hope of studying her in a similar fashion, but their eyes caught, and he quickly looked away.”)
- Considering the other person odd. CoB (Nahri, ch. 18 pg. 333: “What an odd person.” and Ali, ch. 25 pg. 443: “She was odd, to be sure.”)
- Becoming friends as part of an agenda, and then falling for it. CoB (Ali, ch. 26 pg. 468: “I was their primary benefactor. My father found out and ordered me to befriend you and convince you to marry my brother as penance.” and Nahri, ch. 18 pg. 336: “And Nahri wanted to know what was in his books, especially if the information was damaging to Dara. If making this awkward boy her tutor was the best way to protect herself and her Afshin, then by all means. Besides . . . she did want to learn how to read.”)
- Taking note of the other’s laugh, use of the word warm. CoB (Nahri, ch. 20 pg. 355: “Ali laughed, a warm sound she rarely heard that always took her a bit by surprise.” and Ali, ch. 23 pg. 405: “Nahri laughed. It was the first time he’d heard her laugh in days, and the sound warmed his heart.”)
- Liking the other’s intelligence and curiousity. CoB (Ali, ch. 23 pg. 407: “He was enjoying his time with Nahri, he couldn’t help it. She was as intellectually curious as he was, and her life in the human world made for fascinating conversation.”) and KoC (Nahri, ch. 10 pg. 182: “She’d liked spending time with someone who shared her intellect and her curiosity, with someone who didn’t make her feel self-conscious about her ignorance of the magical world or her human skin.”)
- Viewing their time together as a light. CoB (Nahri, ch. 20 pg. 358: “…and strangely enough, she was beginning to enjoy their afternoons together, the one bright spot in her monotonous, frustrating days.” and Ali, ch. 26 pg. 468: “It’s been a dark few months. My time with you . . . it was a light.”)
- Comparing Dara to a statue. CoB (Ali, ch. 19 pg. 345: “The power behind the Afshin’s blows made it feel like sparring with a statue.” and Nahri, ch. 26 pg. 462: “She grabbed Dara’s arm and tried to wrest him off, but it was like fighting a statue.”)
- Stepping in front of the other when faced with a threat. CoB (Nahri, ch. 26 pg. 465: “The Afshin swore and turned around. Nahri swiftly stepped between them. ‘Leave him alone.'” and Ali, ch. 26 pg. 472: “Ali immediately stepped in front of her. ‘She’s as innocent as I am, Dhiru.’”) They also do this with Rashid (CoB) and Manizheh (KoC).
- At risk of being killed as a baby because of who they were. CoB (Nahri, ch. 7 pg. 143: “‘Nahri, you didn’t grow up in my world. You can’t understand.’ ‘Thank God I didn’t! I probably would have been killed before my first birthday!’ Dara said nothing, his silence more revealing than any denial.” and Ali, ch. 29 pg. 501: [Ghassan:] “A second son with a powerful mother from a wealthy tribe. […] Within a day of your birth, I had two assassins from Am Gezira present themselves at court. Skilled men, the best at what they did, offering discreet ways to end my dilemma.”)
- Their main friend before meeting each other was an old man. CoB (Nahri, ch. 1 pg. 13: [with Yaqub] “She didn’t need to scare off her only friend simply because she had a few strange skills.” and Ali, ch. 6 pg. 130: [after Sheikh Anas’ execution] “He’d just witnessed the brutal death of his closest friend.”)
- Having people close to them decry their friendship for tribal reasons. CoB (Nahri, ch. 20 pg. 361: [Dara:] “Alizayd al Qahtani? Really Nahri? Could you not find an ifrit to befriend?” and [Nisreen, ch. 24 pg. 426:] “you spend all your free time with that Qahtani zealot… Nahri, our tribe doesn’t think lightly of disloyalty; we’ve suffered too much at the hands of our enemies.” and Ali, ch. 21 pg. 381: [Rashid:] “You don’t take friends from among the fire worshippers, Alizayd. That’s how they trick you.”)
- They both survived something tearing into their throat before their world was irrevocably changed. CoB (Nahri, ch. 2 pg. 38: “Something popped in her elbow, but the pain barely registered. Because at the same time, it tore into her throat.” and Ali, ch. 26 pg. 476: “The young prince hit the wet deck hard and slid to the boat’s edge. He scrambled to his feet. ‘Munta–’ Dara shot him through the throat.”)
- Connection to the marid. CoB (Nahri, ch. 11 pg. 203: [Sakhr:] “’Astonishing really, I give the marid their due. At first glance, you’re completely human, but look past that and . . .’ He stepped closer to study her face. ‘There’s the daeva.’” and Ali, ch. 28 pg. 495: “A marid. He stared at his dripping hands as nausea swept over him. I gave my name and let some water demon use my body like a shiny new blade to murder the Afshin.”)
- They were saved by a monster. KoC (Nahri, ch. 10 pg. 188: [Muntadhir:] “And because for all her supposed cleverness, she couldn’t see that the dashing hero who saved her was actually its monster.” and Ali, ch. 11 pg. 209 : “The marid were a terror in Ta Ntry, monsters to be feared. Monsters who had saved him.”
- Knows how to open a locked door. CoB (Nahri, ch. 2 pg 35: “‘It’s locked,’ she said. ‘Give me one of your daggers, I’ll pick it.’” and Ali, ch. 4 pg. 75: “Fortunately, Ali was Citadel trained– and the Daevas were troublemakers enough that breaking through the enchantments they used to guard their homes and businesses was a skill taught to the youngest cadets. He closed his eyes, murmuring the first incantation that came to mind. The door swung open.”)
- They both enjoy being in the water. CoB (Nahri, ch. 2 pg. 48: “The press of the cool water was like the touch of a friend.” and Ali, ch. 25 pg. 442: “He liked it, even if most djinn –especially his father’s people– looked upon swimming with utter revulsion.”)
- An interest in reading, economics, Egypt. CoB Reading: (Nahri, ch. 18 pg. 334: “She ran a hand along the multihued spines, overtaken by a sense of longing. ‘Do you like to read?’ Alizayd asked. Nahri hesitated, embarrassed to admit her illiteracy to a man with such a large personal library. ‘I suppose you could say I like the idea of reading.’”) Economics: (Nahri, ch. 18 pg. 335: “’I would like to know how people run businesses in Daevabad, how they make money, negotiate with each other, that sort of thing.’ […] Something seemed to perk up in his face. ‘Economics, then . . .’ He sounded strangely excited.”) and Egypt: (Ali, ch. 18 pg. 336: “I must admit an obsession with the human world. […] Particularly your corner of it. I’ve never met anyone from Egypt. I’d love to learn more about it, hear your stories, and perhaps even improve my own Arabic.”)
Next time: Kingdom of Copper!
Make sure to go follow Jade on her social media! (She has created some excellent fanart of the books too)