I received an ARC of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse from Gallery/Saga Press through Netgalley. Thank you so much!
|Series: Between Earth and Sky #1||Genre: Fantasy|
|Date of Publishing: October 13th 2020||Publisher: Saga Press|
A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
“Serapio hadn’t moved. His robe flared around him like black wings, and the crows he had called, from where she couldn’t fathom, came to him as if to their master. They flowed around his form in a tight spiral, round and round, until they broke and surged upward. They seemed to shatter across the sky in bands of shadow, radiating from his body like the feathered rays of a black sun.
Serapio’s face was radiant, caught in ecstasy, his broad smile showing teeth red enough to match the blood that soaked the deck.
She wanted to say something, call to him. But her throat didn’t want to work.
He seemed to sense her there, reaching for him.
When he spoke, his voice was the sound of a thousand beating wings.
“I am not the sea,” he said, “but I have children, too.””
Excerpt is from an early version of Black Sun and may be changed or removed before publications. All mistakes are mine.
I Am the Fire by Halestorm
I wasn’t sure if this would be my thing or not, Black Sun is pre-Columbian inspired which sometimes is a little darker and bloodier than I generally go for (hard to believe I know, with my taste for violence) but I was a huge fan of Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning and knew she was capable of bringing this setting to life, while giving us characters that I could love. On a side note – Black Sun wasn’t as bloody and dark as a few other stories I have read in this time-set, but Roanhorse definitely knows how to damage our characters, which is apparent right from the guaranteed to hook you first chapter… it was a doozy and the story never lets up for long after.
There are three POV characters, their stories working forward to the day of The Convergence (a culturally significant time when the moon eclipses the sun), with occasional jaunts to the past to fill in backstories. Each character has nice allotment of time before it shifts, letting us get to know them and get a good feel of their individual cultures.
The epigraphs at the beginning of the chapters also help to fill in any details that don’t get covered; tying any loose ends that might have arisen along the way. (I am huge fan of epigraphs for this reason alone.)
Xiala – A sailor and tough as nails, her song can calm the seas but she will always make people nervous because of her Teek magic. She is hired to deliver an important cargo to Tova before the Convergence.
I liked her a lot and I enjoyed her sections the most because of the time spent on the ship, and the magic. She also has some deep scars that keep her from connecting easily with others at least on an emotional level that is – she has no problems on a sexual one.
She may be tough on the outside but as the story progresses, we see some of her vulnerabilities especially as she and Serapio, become closer.
Narampa – from Tova- she has climbed her way through the order to become the Sun Priestess. She will never truly be accepted by the people around her though because of the low place of her birth. She is full of ideas and plans to make Tova a better place but, there are some that don’t agree and wish the celestial tower reformed to their liking.
I liked Nara well enough, especially her interactions with Ichtan, the Priest of knives (Xe and Nara, at one time were lovers). But I enjoyed her the most when she met with her brother and we see more of who she was before she became a Sun Priest.
Serapio – his cruel and lonely upbringing was to prepare him for his destiny of carrying the Crow God.
We meet him as child – young and trusting but, on his return as an adult, there is an air of mystery about him. He feels Godlike, dangerous and dark. But as we get to know him, we see him as almost innocent to things like love and to the wonders of the world, and just lonely. I have to admit I have a soft spot for Serapio.
The cultures are colourful, brought to life with touches of music, food, costumes etc. and I said it in my review of Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse has a knack for breathing life into the lore and legends in a story, and doing it in a way that makes them feel as if they may spring from the pages.
It’s one of my favourite parts of her writing and what keeps me coming back for more.
Great story, great characters, and worth checking out.
The women in Black Sun have good, strong roles and personalities and it’s nice to see this, but especially nice that they are strong with all their vulnerabilities still intact.
Serapio’s disability was handled well (I feel I can say this with fairness, as there are a lot of sight-impaired in my family) the magic does allow for the boundaries to be pushed a bit, while not letting it get too handwavy.
Black Sun was a nice breath of fresh air when it comes to something outside the box and it also has quite a bit of representation of LGBTQ.