Huge thanks to Saga Press and Netgalley for an e-arc of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Black Sun is one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint!
Black Sun is out today (October 13th) and I highly recommend picking it up, especially if you have enjoyed her previous work.
Black Sun is a fantasy novel inspired by pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas. Rebecca Roanhorse mixes cultures and mythologies to create a distinct fantasy setting. This is a story of prophecy, deception, and old gods.
In the city of Tova there are four sky made clans: Golden Eagle, Water Strider, Winged Serpent, and Carrion Crow. The priesthood lives in the fortress above them, led by the Sun Priest. While large parts of the story take place outside of Tova, every story converges on Tova and the political machinations of the sky made clans and the priesthood.
Black Sun has four main POV characters, and the story confirms at least two as queer. I didn’t know this book had queer characters when I went into it, so this was a great surprise!
Xiala is a Teek woman whose song can soothe the ocean. She is bi or pan and she has a romantic arc with a man. Xiala is honestly kind of a mess, she has a lot of unresolved trauma from her past and she drinks and fools around to get by. Xiala accepts a contract to captain a ship to Tova.
“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.”
Serapio is a man who has known little love throughout his life. His mother bore him into existence for the purpose of fulfilling a prophecy, for which she also blinded him. His only friends are the crows which also serve as his eyes when needed. He has ties to the Carrion Crow clan without ever having met them.
Okoa becomes the shield to the matron of Carrion Crow after his mother dies in mysterious circumstances. Okoa comes into play late in the book, but I’m sure he will play a larger part in the rest of the series. Soon after returning to Tova he faces accusations of attempting to assassinate the Sun Priest.
Naranpa is the Sun Priest. She is likely bi or pan, only one of her past relationships makes it onto the page and it was with a non-binary character. Naranpa is trying to lead her segment of the priesthood back to its former glory. However, the other leaders of the priesthood are unwilling to forget her roots and the fact that she will never be one of them. Segments of the priesthood undermine her every step of the way and the political machinations of the sky made clans haunt her every move.
As always, Rebecca Roanhorse crafts a detailed world with loveable and complicated characters in all shades of grey that leaves you breathless and emotionally devastated in all the best ways. If you’ve read Trail of Lightning, you will know exactly the type of feeling I am talking about.
Characters who you thought had already fallen too far to break, prove they can break into smaller pieces. They self sacrifice without considering an alternative. They make leaps and bounds to do what they believe is right even when it puts them in danger. But they are also complex and flawed and endlessly realistic because of it.
I love a political story so this fit the bill perfectly. Be warned, the story does start a little slow if you are expecting the prophecy to come into play immediately. However, Black Sun thoroughly develops the world, the characters, and the cultures , paving the way for future books.
Rebecca Roanhorse effectively intertwines each character’s story while keeping each story, for the most part, separate. I loved how one character’s actions affected another character’s story in unexpected, but clearly linked ways. I can’t wait to see how the story continues!