Character: Alizyad al Qahtani
Fandom: The Daevabad Trilogy
- The City of Brass
- The Kingdom Of Copper
- The Empire of Gold
So, for anyone who needs a proper warning, let this be it. This text is going to be full of spoilers.
So, I read the Daevabad Trilogy in 4.5 days. I binged read them and if you have read this series, do you know why? This series is just brilliant. And while this post is about Alizayd, I can’t help but talk about how utterly perfect this series was. Everything, the small-small details. I am in love with this series.
Now, let’s talk about our Alizayd al-Qahtani.
STORY DETAILS WITH COMMENTS:
As I mentioned before, I’ve binged the whole series. And so, I am among those people for whom these 3 books were one giant tome of books. And so the scenes would not be in chronological order.
Let’s start with him helping Anas. Alizayd knows that he should not even be associating with Shafit. And there he was, helping them financially. What is really interesting is when Alizayd realises his money is used not just in charitable and basic requirements but also to purchase arms and ammunition. To purchase weapons to revolt against his family. Ah. The strange crossroads. And when he meets the local shafit during night and witnesses about the stolen babies and the conditions. I think these small-small moments of Alizayd’s road to truth have won my heart. How he knows that Shafit’s don’t deserve to be mistreated, that they should be given freedom but at the same time- them fighting for that, in a way that hurts him.
I love how he forced himself to look at Anas when he was killed. How he was upset, dishearted but he forced himself to witness it (and I love how Muntadhir mentions it later when he realises that Alizayd was helping the Shafits.) It is worth mentioning how when he was attacked, he had the presence of mind to make sure that the killer was killed and not left alive for questioning.
I think a lot about Alizayd’s personality. How as a child, he was the most curious person. But then he was taken away from Queen Hatset. And how she snuck in and taught him how to swim. It makes me wonder how he would be as a person if he was still around with his mother.
Since I am talking about his childhood. I can’t help but recall how after his birth, people all around were ready to kill him just because he was a threat to his brother as a potential King. And how King Ghassan killed people with his bare hands when they suggested killing baby Alizayd. It shows that he loved Alizayd. And how throughout his life, Alizayd never dreamt about being the King. Despite coming from powerful families from both sides, Alizayd wanted to just be with his brother. Helping his brother be the best King. All he wanted to do was to help the Shafit and make the world a better place to live in.
When Alizayd met Nahri. It was just beautiful. We didn’t have two instant lovers. We didn’t have instant enemies either. We had a slow-building of a beautiful relationship. I love how they could constantly question each other and the other would not be annoyed like others but answer them. How the two of them in between every strangeness could count on each other (At least for a while. We all know how things are towards the end of The City of Brass and the start of The Kingdom of Copper)
I loved the constant dynamics between Alizayd, Nahri and Dara. How Nahri is at the constant centre but especially Alizayd and Dara. The scene where Dara threatens to kill Alizayd with his own Zulfiqar and somehow ends with being taken as a hostage. And in all that chaos, how to protect Muthadhir, Alizayd takes an arrow and ends up falling in water. The scene where he gives his name in the helplessness. Ah. That is one of my favourites tropes or situations, anything to do with Names. And the aftereffects of that scene. Someone who has trained his whole life with fire suddenly asked to play with water. As I said before, his life has so many shades.
I am so in love with the ending of The City of Brass. How the history of Ghassan and Nahids and marid and everything are interconnected. How Muntadhir was torn between his injured brother and Jamshid fighting for his life. How King Ghassan bought back the story of their ancient past that was buried deep inside. Alizayd’s feelings. Him coming to terms with water around and the power of water. And more than that. The dynamics that he may rise up to be a King when he clearly didn’t want to. The way Ghassan explained to him why he named him, how he never wanted to kill him and now he was exiling him. I loved how Ali said that wouldn’t be better to just snap his neck or kill him in sleep or poison his food. And Ghassan’s answer. Doesn’t all this prove once again that heavy is the weight of the crown?
The whole story as Alizayd finds his way alone is beautiful. He was sheltered back home. He was a Prince. But then, all alone with no one to call him and where everyone is trying to kill him? And then slowly Alizayd finds people to call his. He finds friends, probably for the first time, his own. His relation with Lubayd and Aqisa is his own. And the fact that they genuinely care for him. It made my little heart swell. He slowly makes his own life there. He learns to live. He learns to live with water.
Now, somehow I went according to order but I think everything is going to be a mixture from here on.
Alizayd being back in Daevabad is such a pivotal moment. He knows that he isn’t going to be welcomed. He knows he is not supposed to be there. And yet there he is. Amongst the known and yet amongst the strangers. His relationship with everyone has changed. His dynamics with everyone has changed. And he was almost killed. Imagine being back in the place you grew, the place you called home. That relief and then the sly attempt on your life. My favourite scene is where he goes to apologize to Nahri and unknowingly stumbles within the orange grooves that she has deemed forbidden to everyone.
And and and…him being back doesn’t make things suddenly good either. He still witnesses things that he thinks should be changed. And he was upset. All he wanted was to see his people happy.
“No, I wasn’t afraid. I was tired. I’m tired of everyone in this city feeding on vengeance. I’m tired of teaching our children to hate and fear other children because their parents are our enemies. And I’m sick and tired of acting like the only way to save our people is to cut down all who might oppose us, as if our enemies won’t return the favor the instant power shifts.”
And in a small-small way, he tries to make the world a better place to live in. I strongly believe Alizayd’s motto in life can be: Live this place a little better than what you found it.
And I cannot stop without mentioning two dialogues that Nahri use somewhere in conversation with Alizayd.
“I’ve had enough of men hurting me because they were upset.”
“Go steal some happiness for yourself, my friend,” she said shortly. “Trust me when I say the chance doesn’t always come back.”
There are some words or scenes that remind you of the whole series. And one of those things is this sentence. There is so much pain in that sentence. And it somehow explains their dynamics.
The whole second book was a blast. But that end. That glorious ending. I am genuinely sobbing as I re-read that ending to write this post. I had forgotten so many details.
How Muntadhir stepped in front of Alizayd. The dialogue that followed. That scene. It somehow solved every relation drift that they had. How Muthandhir said that he could not watch him die again. And how Alizayd broke. Every scene in those last couple of chapters broke me into a crying mess. Alizayd. How much he had to face. He saw his people dying. He was almost captured and killed again. Losing his friend. Losing his father. Being sure of losing his brother. I don’t know how he still had the strength to fight. Him crying for his father. For his brother. Despite knowing about Nahri’s truth in all this chaos. The only thing he said to her were words of encouragement. That it didn’t matter that she had Human blood. The Prophet was a human. He did wonders and so could she. How in midst of running he would ask her to do something to her palace. How in the middle when he said that he could control water. A piece of information that Alizayd wasn’t ready to flaunt and at the same time asked her to lecture about it later. And when Alizayd asked Nahri to break the library, the first she said was that he would lecture her if she harmed the books. These precious moments among the death around.
Witnessing Ali out in the human world was nothing but delight. Seeing him struggle to wake up. Seeing him fight for life after the effects of the seal taking place. And then after him waking him, the realisation of lost families and friends. The replaying of conversations in his mind, the pain of unsaid conversations. And recollections of the said conversations.
Abba will make you emir; he’ll give you Nahri. All the things you pretend you don’t want.
In his despair, Ali finds himself in the mosque. He realises he still has his water with him. And despite everything, he turns back to one thing that has always been with him. His faith.
During the end of The City of Brass, when his father said that he didn’t believe and never had faith as Ali did but when he saw his sons in danger, he did pray. And here, Ali after his whole world has crumbled prayed. He prayed for what he lost, for his helplessness, for guidance. Because he was lost and this was the only way he knew. He wept. He wept for everything he lost. And despite making some decisions, he knew he could not make Nahri’s decision for her. And so, he traced his way to Nahri. When he asked Nahri if she was ever happy in Daevabad. That’s all it took. That question was for me to decide I was going to be in love with Empire of Gold.
I mean if I started tracing all the amazing things Ali said, I would end up writing the whole book titled, Alizayd-al-Quatani’s wise words.
But what is amazing is how despite Ali changing and learning constantly. What he values, what he wants from his life, his purpose kind of stays what it is. He wants a better world. He wants his people to be happy. He wants to help his people prosper.
“Every time I think there’s no lower our world can sink, we all plunge deeper.” -Chapter 6
The two contrasting and amazing moods were when I witnessed Alizayd helping Nahri perform that surgery and crack open that skull and the next day being lost in the marvels of the human world. The toys, the people, shops, the toy chicken that Nahri almost lost him to and the swords that Nahri would have lost him to and finally to books and maps where she did lose him.
Ali’s whistful thinking for a moment about how peaceful life at Cairo could be. But he knew. He knew those days to rest were done and he had to go back. Back to his home. Back to protecting his people.
We are going to focus on one conversation that when I started reading this trilogy, I would’ve never imagined reading.
Nahri and Alizyad talk about who took care of Ali when he was sick. And Nahri said that he was well-built. And ALIZYAD taking it as a compliment. And asking to change the subject.
If this isn’t the definition of epicness, I don’t know what is.
Alizayd’s meeting with Sobek. And their entire ride to Ta Ntry. I really enjoyed how the world was expanding. We were learning more about the history, the reasons, the world and everything in a systematic manner. Ali categorising everything, understood and questioned the statements. And the first burst of marid magic. The way he could feel everyone around him. The hunger he felt.
“Alizayd al Qahtani…I will remember you.” – Chapter 15
Let’s take a jump towards Alizayd in Ta Ntry with his mother. Every amazing detail between the two of them aside. And not talking about the fierce love the Queen has for him. Every conversation that Alizayd has after he reaches Ta Ntry. How he lead the prayers in the morning and sat with every people to talk with them. And after everything, he feels grounded. These small-small moments show how much he cares about his people. When his mother offered him to become a King. To start a new rule. He wasn’t tempted. He knew the solution to everything. He knew to achieve what he wanted, there could not be another Ghassani. There could not be another al Qahtani on the throne. And he was okay with it. There was no once of regret. No ounce of grief for the loss of the throne.
When Alizayd was kind of possessed by the Monsson marid and the conversation that followed with both Nahri and Sobek was terrifying. The way Alizayd’s memories were feasted upon and how the twisted words just came in front of Nahri. How those hidden words just came in front of Nahri and all Alizayd could do was plead for this to be over. And then the conversation of truth that followed with Sobek. Everything is such a huge mess and everything got interconnected so beautifully. Just wow.!
And then came the massive realisation. And the truth just came crashing on Alizayd. Despite everything that he has been through. Despite everything, the loss of his people, his family, the grief, betrayals etc. The truth that shook him to the core. Things that he knew he would have to do to save his people. The pain. And then Nahri. His longing just came crashing him. His own mind playing war. How he knew he should not. But then death was going to visit him and all he could think about was Nahri, the woman he loved. Not his brother’s wife. The moment where everything blurred for him and he allowed himself a moment of rebelness. A moment to forget what he was supposed to do and what was correct. A moment to feel what it would be with Nahri. And just like that as the truth of reality came crashing on him, he stopped. He asked her to do what was right again. Asked her to remove the seal.
“You and I are not the worst of our ancestors. They don’t own our heritage. Manizheh uses Nahid magic to kill; I use it to heal. Just because Sobek has used magic for evil doesn’t mean that’s what it is when you use it.”
And then we have Alizayd entering the domain of Tiamat with the only hopes to save himself to fulfil the promise that he gave to Nahri. A promise to return. A promise which in each passing moment he found unattainable. But he did what he was amazing at. He was his own self. He didn’t let an innocent die in the name of entertainment but fought for what he believed. And much to his shock, convinced the marid laughing on him to listen to him, to find caution in him, to find reason in him. And then he gave up, everything. Everything for his people. He gave up who he was and what he was. He gave up knowing what he knew…he gave up his name.
And then Alizayd had his re-birth. He learnt marid magic. He got that navy that he once dreamed of in passing. And he got that army. He made his path and despite the loss of everything, Alizayd did the impossible and made sure they had a chance to win. He learnt his history. He understood things that were in front of him and he never took time in understanding them.
And then we have the glorious battle. Alizayd is fighting not only with people but also managing or rather convincing marid to help him. Every part of the battle is so satisfying. And then we have Alizayd not only taking Nahri’s mothers memories from Sobek but also giving those memories to her. That moment is so tender.
Well, before I forget or get into Alizayd and Nahri. Let’s talk about my favourite Qahtani siblings. Just the three of them sitting together and teasing each other. Muthdhir and Zaynab bet on if Alizayd would have kissed Nahri. Alizayd getting flustered. Alizayd promises himself to be worthy of learning Muthadhir’s secret from him despite knowing about it. Him giving the zulfiqar to Zaynab. Every moment in that short scene has my heart. And then talking about Ali and Nahri. How reluctant they are to make that move but how utterly perfect and smitten they are for each other.
Why is he so special? What makes him imprint that prints on our hearts? We have come across many princes in literature, but somehow Alizayd made his place at the top of my favourites. We meet him for the first time as he is praying. And this scene, the scene of him showing his devotion is so soft because I haven’t read many books where we have characters praying which is one of the important traits in Asian culture. And Alizayd praying- a man, A Muslim man praying. Something that is so common, so mundane but somehow so important. In the chaos, we often skip the common things but it is the common stuff, things that we practise in day to day life that made this representation so important.
Throughout the series, we see Alizayd in many phases. We see him lying, we see him being lied to, we see him get excited, we see him losing everything, we see him at his lowest, we see him starting over. You name a phase and we witness those. But in his constant change of phase- there is one thing that was constant. His faith. His devotion. His trust in Allah that he will help him find a way. That devotion, you don’t generally find in literature. Especially coming from a Muslim Man. (At least I haven’t read many books like them). So, a big Thank You to Shannon A. Chakraborty for this amazing character.
Throughout the series, Alizayd grows. He is a perfect example of a Dynamic character. During the City of Brass, he wanted to help people. And as the series progresses, he still wants to save people. But he is no longer the idealist. He has seen the world. He realises the world is not in black and white. He learns to recognize the shades of grey. Alizayd realises sometimes it is better to step aside and let the world heal itself. He doesn’t have to do everything. He cannot save everyone. All he can do is try and the world will follow. Throughout the series, Alizayd shows so many shades and so many soft moments that make him human.
Who is your favourite character in the Daevabad series? And which are your favourite scenes. I would love to hear more about them.
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NOTES: Featured images of the Daevabad Trilogy are editions by Fairyloot.