Title: Black Sun (Between Earth & Sky #1)
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Pub. Date: October 13th 2020
Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Saga Press
Pages: 454 pages
🖤ALC & Galley provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review🖤
Set in a world inspired by the Pre-Colombian Americas, we follow the Sky Made Clans who are prepping for Winter Solstice. This Winter Solstice happens to coincide with a solar eclipse which is considered a rare celestial event. For the Sun Priest, this is an opportunity to try and restore the faith by upholding traditions in Tova. This is no easy task with brewing animosity stemming from the Night of Knives, a night where the Priesthood slaughtered many people from the Carrion Crows Clan. This has never been forgotten and many believe there to be rebel groups waiting for their time to seek retribution. Naranpa, our controversially appointed Sun Priest seeks to bridge the gap between the Priesthood and the clans. Naranpa who comes from very humble beginnings and has since turned her back on family, is very disconnected from the clans. She will find that she is a target despite not having bloodied her hands. Finding someone she can trust will seem nearly impossible in her present circle and in her past.
We also follow the perspective of Xiala, a Pansexual Teek Captain who has faced exile and is recruited by a nobleman to transport a blind passenger by the name of Serapio. This is to be done within a very short and what sounds like an unreasonable amount of time. Xiala was specifically sought out for her Teek abilities which are similar to that of a siren. As a daughter of the Sea, Xiala is able to ask her mother for help with navigating treacherous weather and rough sails. Serapio is mysterious and observant with a single objective…to arrive in Cuecola in time for the Solstice. The bearer of a prophecy, Serapio is able to inhabit the bodies of crows who serve as his eyes. His own were stitched shut by his mother who gave him instructions and set him on the path to fulfill the prophecy. Much isn’t divulged about the prophecy until we reach the end of this journey. All of these characters paths converge in what is a solid foundation for an epic story.
This is my very first read from Rebecca Roanhorse but I can clearly see why this author is beloved. This is high fantasy that delivers on inclusivity, political intrigue, rich culture and multi-layered world building topped off with an adventure at sea. I have NEVER read anything from the Fantasy genre that I can say is as beautifully queer and features what for the most part is a matriarchal society. Naranpa, Xiala, and Serapio are all multi-faceted characters that each display at one time or another a level of moral ambiguity. There are no heroes in this story however if you love a good tale of uprisings and a settling of scores, then this is absolutely one worth giving a go. This world practically jumps off the page both during the travel at sea and on land…sometimes even in air. Roanhorse has gifted us these giant crows that train to fly with a specific clan, a deep respect between humans and these birds is evident. I was left craving more story from the Carrion Crow Clan and some of the key characters we meet in the second act. The pacing of the story is the only thing that docked it a star on my end since there were times I found myself wanting to be with another POV than the present chapter. All in all, a solid foundation for this high stakes Fantasy that I personally look forward to continuing on with!
CW: Suicide, death of a parent, child abuse, violence, extreme body part modification, gore, ritualized body mutilation
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