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.
A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun
You know me and books based around other cultures and with Black Sun Roanhorse gives us as the reader an incredible insight into pre-Columbian America’s. I do wish I knew more about it so I could separate the truth from the fantasy, but nevertheless, you get a brilliant insight into the world she creates. There are few authors who could actually write a culture into existence, but Roanhorse is one of these rare few. We don’t just get an insight into how the culture works now, she also manages to give us a historical viewpoint which just makes her continent that much more realistic.
Black Sun follows four main POV’s: Narampa, The Sun Priest. An idealist, which is easy to understand when you learn her history. A beggar turned Priest, there are plenty who feel she doesn’t belong in her position, and plenty who feel that Tova and it’s people would be better off with her out of the way.
Xalai, a Teek. She has power over the sea, something that her people are both reviled and feared for. Never one to shy away from love and always one to find the nearest drinking hall, she is unsure what to expect when a Noble commissions her for a near impossible journey, but she knows the riches he promises will make the risk worth it.
Serapio, a blind man who lives in two worlds. He has been told all his life that he is destined for something bigger, something that will change the world, a reality he accepts all too easily. But when he dreams, he dreams of a normal life, one where he could love freely, where the weight of his destiny didn’t weigh him down.
Okoa, a member of Carrion Crow clan, a people who are still reeling from a massacre that occurred years ago. With his mother as Matron and his sister to accept the role after her death, he has been shipped off to a war college to train as her shield, the person that will stand between her and danger. All of these characters have their own agendas, most of which contradict with each other but you want them all to succeed… even if you know it’s not possible.
One thing I will note is to make sure you read the chapter headers as the story is told from multiple timelines and it is easy to get a little confused unless you know where in the story you are. That being said, I really enjoyed the different time periods. Black Sun is certainly shocking in parts, the first chapter opens with Serapio and his mother (trigger warning for harm to a child) that was eerily violent, as well as this we get some quite shocking and violent scenes throughout the book, but when I say shocking I don’t mean it as a ‘where did this come from’ some of these scenes are what gives the book it’s depth, they certainly help with the character growth and with how much we as the reader find ourselves bonding and relating with the characters.
I mentioned this before when talking about the depth Roanhorse go’s to to build her cultures, but the world building in Black Sun was some of the best I have ever read. The crescent style design of her continent was easily traversable and we get to see it from edge to edge. Her depictions of the different cities and the clans that call them home completely bring the world she creates to life and make is easy for us as the reader to get completely enveloped in the story.
You want representation? This book has it all, filled with LGBTQ+ characters, as well as an MC that is Blind and one culture has an openly accepted third gender. The representation is so well built into the cultures and clans that Roanhorse writes and openly accepted within the wider world. This is easily making it on to my top ten books of the year list, I have been a fan of Roanhorse’s since reading Trail of Lightning last year, and Black Sun has cemented her as one of my favourite authors. If you’re a fan of plot twists, morally grey characters and world building that almost makes you believe it exists, then Black Sun is the book for you.