This first book in a new alternate world fantasy series felt a bit more polished than Roanhorse’s more Urban Fantasy debut that I loved. And maybe my expectations were set high? Don’t get me wrong, this is a fabulous alternate world mythology with recognizable pre-columbian mythos, names, cultural organizations, and gods. It’s worth reading for the description of the alcoholic drinks alone!
But every fantasy lover worth their salt needs to read this one. I believe the same about N.K. Jemisin’s Fifth Season for the same reason. In the last decade, I am hard put to name an alternate world fantasy this redolent of North/South American first peoples’ culture (standing in contrast to faux-European fantasy) and the possibilities of other cultural ways of being. Faux-Asian fantasy in English has really started to take off both in Indie and mainstream publishing and I can name several good ones easily (from Jade City to City of Brass to Sword of Kaigen to Wolf of Oren-yaro). But we need more books like this.
But it also contains a massive cliffhanger ending which I hate, hate, hate.
Told through mainly three POVs, Black Sun chronicles the weeks leading up to convergence of sun and moon in this alternate world where a city ruled by clans and their priests is facing growing unrest of the Carrion Crow clan. Meanwhile, a young man is being groomed for some prophetic role, and an exiled sailor with a special connection to the sea is hired to take the young man to the city just as the ruling Sun Priest’s authority is challenged from within.
Loved the brash confidence of the sailor as well as the concept of her song. The young man, Serapio, is much harder. He’s very oppressed. His training is not pleasant. And his acceptance is oft times frustrating. The Sun Priest, Nara, is much more fascinating, but as her POV is insulated and ignorant of the political currents fomenting, that is sometimes a limited POV for me, although inner court politics, along with her non-binary bodyguard interactions, were great. There’s also the POV of a Carrion Crow warrior, but he was less fleshed out for me. Possible he’s more important in later books.
Just as things start to ramp up and get interesting with all our main players converging, the book ends. I understand why authors do that, but I also don’t approve. Won’t stop me from buying the next book! Roanhorse is continuing to prove herself a vital part of fantasy literature/media in the USA and I will willingly follow her to any fantasy world.