Updated: Feb 4
Who here likes magic? Subterfuge and drama? Old gods being reborn?
If you raised your hand to any of the above, congratulations! You've come to the right book review about the perfect book for you. BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse is by far one of the best books I've read (actually listened to via audiobook, which I highly recommend because the voice cast is Indigenous and AMAZING) this year.
Inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas, BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse is a high fantasy built on a grand scale. A scale that is explored through the rotating cast of Roanhorse's leading characters. There's a man born to be a god, a woman borne from the sea, a priestess redefining the priesthood, and a soldier who fights for his people.
Serapio, the man born to be a god, is a mysterious and deeply intriguing character. He's on a journey to fulfill his destiny -- which is in a way, what all the rest of the characters in the book are doing regardless of whether they know it or not. He represents the vengeance of his clan known as the Carrion Crow -- they're a people who've been wronged and look to the prophecy of a coming saviour who will enact the vengeance they feel is deserved. Roanhorse does a wonderful job of painting the figure of a man caught between the mortal world and the immortal world of gods that he has always been told is his destiny. When he meets ship captain Xiala to embark on his destiny's path, she teaches him the parts of the mortal world he hadn't experienced before.
Xiala is Teek and a ship captain. Teek are feared for their magic -- songs they're able to sing that can manipulate the world around them. When she's tasked with escorting Serapio to Tova, a holy city, she finds herself intrigued by him. Readers, I will admit, Xiala is by far my favorite character in the book. She's bold, has a smart mouth, but a soft heart -- the book girlfriend of your dreams. Xiala is drawn towards Serapio, both because he is magic like herself and also because he's very handsome (which Roanhorse does well to describe!)
Naranpa, a high priestess of the sun, strives to reshape the priesthood to which she belongs. Roanhorse throws every obstacle at this character -- Naranpa's radical ideas and less than worthy birthright make her the enemy to many of the people surrounding her. But she has a genuine belief in the organization she belongs to. She knows they can do better and expects it from them. This relentlessly optimistic POV illuminates the enormity of her task to reform the priesthood -- there are those (much like in our real world) who don't want change and reject being progressive even in the face of new challenges and potential enemies.
And that leaves us with the fourth narrator of this book, Okoa. He's a Carrion Crow soldier, tasked with protecting the leader of his clan, his sister after their mother's suspicious and sudden death. Okoa's loyal above all else to his family and any threat whether it be from his own clan or outside forces are his to deal with. While he and Naranpa both want to protect their city, they have different methods and of course this results in some great drama in Tova, the holy city.
Roanhorse has clearly mastered the art of writing on all fronts -- beautiful, descriptive prose that paints a vibrant world that feels almost as if it's another one of the characters. And the characters...while I had my favorites (and I have a feeling most readers will too), each one was brought brilliantly to life as their own dynamic and unique person. BLACK SUN will take you on a journey, fraught with dangers from both expected and unexpected places. This book is a deeply compelling and entertaining read that either young adults or older adults would enjoy.
P.S. I really have to stop reading these series starters because as always, I was left with the immediate NEED to read the next book as soon as I was done. In fact, since it's an audiobook, I actually had to rewind a few times, just to make absolutely sure that I hadn't somehow missed the last few pages of the book. No, dear readers, I hadn't. So now, as with so many other books I've read this year, I'm left with a deep yearning to find out what happens to my beloved characters next.
What book from the Miss Read shelf should I read and review next? Comment your suggestions below!