bipoc authors, indigenous authors, Reviews

Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse


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.

This book is genuinely unlike anything else I have read. The world building is incredible, the characters are vibrant, and the story is captivating from the start to the finish. I am so incredibly grateful that I got the opportunity to get this book as an ARC, and can not thank Simon & Schuster CA!

This book was one that I predicted to be a favourite of mine because it has so many elements of fantasy novels that I love. Roanhorse presents the reader with the beautiful and mystical land of Meridian, where the Teek’s song has magical properties and the Carrion Crows walk in shadows. She so effortlessly introduces magic into the story, it’s easy to forget that not everyone in Meridian can use it. The mythology of Meridian is also incredibly well developed without being forced on the reader. You slowly find out that gods used to walk the earth, but since the god-war they’ve vanished. The slow reveal is masterful – you never feel like you’re wanting for information, but at the same time you know that you could learn more. Some other elements that immediately endeared me to the novel were the short snippets at the beginning of the chapters. Taken from various sources, they reminded me of the footnotes in the Nevernight Chronicles, and I loved the details that they added to the story. Some of my favorites were the Teek sayings such as “there are only two types of men: ones who betray you sooner and ones who betray you later”. These little sayings really added to the Teek culture, the one that we didn’t explore that much, and I hope in future novels we get to learn more about this strange, maybe women-only society.

One of the biggest things that I found set this book apart was the vast, vast diversity of characters. I don’t just mean backstories either – gender, sexuality, religion, and ability. There are so many queer characters in my book that my heart nearly burst. Never in another book have I seen such natural diversity, that doesn’t feel forced but instead enriches the story to show just how diverse a society actually is. This novel was the first that I have read (I believe) that has not only one but two characters using xe/xir pronouns. There was a trans character introduced in passing, and everyone just accepted it and moved on. Nobody’s sexuality is ever seen as surprising or shocking, everyone literally just loves who they love and its accepted. It was such a lovely thing to see, and I cannot put into words how happy I am to see such a beautiful society depicted by Roanhorse.

I don’t want to spoil any of the plot for you (I am making a determined effort to not say anything big) because it’s that good. The one thing that I will say about the story is that (at least for me) it’s very hard to ascribe the title of ‘villian’ to a single party in the book. Based on all the events that take part in the book it’s easy to see where each character’s motivation comes from, which for me makes it almost impossible to assign the title of evil to one character or the other. Sure, there were some villainous acts carried out by characters, but I don’t think there are any cut and dry evil characters (except maaaaaybe Baat…). Roanhorse masterfully balances all of these different motivations and creates morally ambiguous characters who you can’t look away from.

The story doesn’t really have any slow points due to the fact that it occurs in the span of 20 days. I think I read the final 150 pages yesterday in one sitting, because I literally couldn’t put the book down. So imagine my emotions when I reach the end of the book, wishing there was just one more! I wouldn’t say that this book ends in a cliffhanger, more like it ends such that it will seamlessly tie into the beginning of the next book in the series. And even though I want more (like now hahaha) I couldn’t be happier with where she left off.

I am so excited for the next book in the series, and I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up a copy of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, available now!! When you read it (because you simply must!) let me know what you think 🙂

Have a great weekend ducks, and I’ll see you all again soon!
~ Mon

3 thoughts on “Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse”

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