Review: Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse


Rating – 7.5/10

Synopsis

NOMINATED FOR THE 2021 HUGO AWARDS AND THE 2020 NEBULA AWARDS FOR BEST NOVEL

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

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.

Review

Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes Bestseller and a Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (formerly Campbell) Award for Best New Writer. Her most famous work to date is the urban fantasy Trail of Lightning, which has received praise and admiration from the SFF community. The Black Sun is Mrs. Roanhorse first entry into the epic fantasy genre and it doesn’t disappoint. There is a lot to unpack in this story inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

If I have heard it once I have heard it a thousand times from readers, bloggers, and booktubers alike is that they are looking for non-traditional fantasy where the setting doesn’t resemble medieval Europe. Well, let not your hearts be trouble because Mrs. Roanhorse has delivered a novel truly different to the genre. Rebecca Roanhorse has jumped into the fantasy genre with a truly unique and engaging story from beginning to end. Mrs. Roanhorse did a lot of research and investment into the South American cultures as their essence just lifts from the page endlessly throughout the story. We follow four main characters in this story and they all offer different perspectives on the culture, religions, clans, and hierarchical structure throughout the world.

The story starts in the holy city of Tova several years, where a winter solstice has arrived with the surprise of a solar eclipse claimed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. This sets into motion a chain of events, which leads us to present day as we follow our set of characters. In present day, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The ship captain, Xiala, has a special ability to calm the waters around her, insuring safe passage to the holy city. She and her crew carry a mysterious passenger named Serapio as he needs to journey to the holy city to complete his mission and fulfill his destiny. Serapio is a young man, blind, scarred, and comes across to the crew as harmless, but Xiala knows that he hides a dark past.

Serapio was by far my favorite character to read, especially his flashback chapters and how he was shaped into the person he is and the choices he must make. After reading Serapio first chapter you will be hooked and flipping the pages to see what he does next. My only negative is that this story is a bit of a slow-burner and it can be tough to follow at times. You can definitely tell that this is the first book in the series when you finish the story. The story does end a little abruptly and I know this will cause some readers to be upset, but the journey to get to the end is what made me love Black Sun. It checks all the boxes we fantasy fans are looking for while adding in something new and fresh.

Black Sun is only skimming the surface of what South American cultures can bring to the fantasy genre. If this is any indication of what is to come from Rebecca Roanhorse, then I will be there will with bells and whistles to welcome this fantastic new voice in Epic Fantasy. Bring on book 2!

Cheers!

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