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.
“A man with a destiny is a man who fears nothing.“Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse
Black Sun was one of the books I’ve been looking forward to read last 2020, and I didn’t know much about it aside from its stunningly gorgeous cover and it being a pre-Columbian American inspired epic fantasy with a hint of science fiction woven into its story. There was also a ton of hype around this book which made me a bit wary, but now that I finished it, and I’m super glad that it was well-deserved and it was more than just a pretty cover.
Knocking Out the Typical “Western/White Fantasy” Idea
It was evident that the author wanted to give an epic fantasy story that wasn’t the typical Western idea. I may not be entirely knowledgeable with South American culture, but the way the world was built – from the aspects of mythology and religion, magic, history, landmarks, clothing, and even the food -, the tone and atmosphere weren’t too overwhelming or had too much info-dumping, but was so vividly described that it felt like you would be immediately transported into the book. The way the book’s worldbuilding worked was so seamless and natural that it really does make a point that fantasy can reach leaps and bounds from its “white origins”. The author did an amazing job in terms of the amount of research she did for this book, and it showed beautifully.
Aside from its massive kudos to its South American roots, this book also featured a ton of queer diversity, and how it also featured a community that being queer is normal and part of their culture. The use of its own gender neutral pronouns was actually really surprising yet felt so appropriate, and as the story goes on and characters who address themselves with their preferred gender neutral pronouns felt even more natural. While it still reflects some of the hate and prejudices among the queer community that is similar to what is currently happening in real life, it provided enough possibility wherein a world doesn’t not revolve in that circle of hatred, and everyone is free to be who they want to be.
Character-wise, I didn’t expect I would become easily invested in all of them. I always did prefer my fantasy novels to have multiple POVs because it gives different perspectives to the story from the character’s eyes, and Black Sun nailed it. Every one of them was so complex but very well-realized that as soon as you meet them, you immediately have an idea on how they would be like. The story progression just helps readers discover them more intimately, and how they would play out their roles. I knew a lot about the characters featured, but things were still kept from readers intentionally, and itwas obvious it was going to be explored more in the following books.
My personal favorites so far were definitely Xiala and Serapio, but Narampa is a close runner-up. The character dynamics of this book was also very engaging, and it showcased both good and bad relationships among their fellows. There was banter, arguments, and tons of back and forth which absolutely made me like the characters even more. Even the romance aspect of this book – while not a huge subplot of the story – was very delightful.
The story itself takes a few moments to build up and be able to grasp it fully. I normally prefer my fantasy stories, especially for epic fantasy, to at least have some initial explanation or a brief introduction to the general concept of the story. However, Black Sun didn’t provide any of that initial thoughts, but instead chose to just tell its tale as it is, and it’s up to the readers to grasp its fullness. Everything just fell into place and a reader can get a good grasp on it already as one reads further on. To be able understand and watch it unfold as you read was so satisfying and it actually made me start to like this form of story-telling.
There wasn’t also a ton of heavy action scenes, but it did have a lot of high intensity moments that propelled the story forward. I don’t really care for that much with huge battle scenes, but when it’s done right and it engages the readers without getting boring or overwhelming, then I’ll be sold for it – and I was. Black Sun had that really high stake moments towards the end that made me just flip the pages so fast, and then it ended with a cliffhanger. And that wasa very massive cliffhanger, too!
Over-all, I really recommend this book to everyone, especially to fellow fantasy lovers, who want a different yet very elevated take on fantasy that’s making a storm. I also listened to this book on audiobook, and it was an even more spectacular ride. The narrators did a magnificent job in bringing this story to life, so I’m highly recommending everyone to check this out on audiobook as well.
I really need details on when the second book will be coming out!
About The Author
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 novels include TRAIL OF LIGHTNING, STORM OF LOCUSTS, STAR WARS: RESISTANCE REBORN, and RACE TO THE SUN. Her upcoming novel BLACK SUN is set to release 10/13/2020.
She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug.