Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Blacksun

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Rich worldbuilding, characters with depth

I had a great time with Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. To be honest, I expected to like this one, I loved the first two books in the Sixth World Series after all, but, as we all know, high expectations combined with lots of hype can sometimes spell disaster. Fortunately this was not the case with Black Sun. This is a story that combines rich world building with well drawn characters all singing from their own hymn sheets and it just works so very well.

I’m going to be a little lazy here and steal part of the description from Goodreads, simply because it’s well written and so why reinvent the wheel:

“Inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

I mean, right there – Pre-Columbian America – who would not want to read a book with this setting? Seriously, this just feels so unique and not just that, it’s well written with descriptions that bring the place vividly to life.

On top of this we follow four pov characters with all the threads slowly converging during the course of the book. What is satisfying about this is it feels more like two storylines simply because of the geography with the story switching between time on the high seas and time in the city of Tova, and occasionally incorporating flashbacks.

As the book starts we meet Serapio as he undergoes a painful ritual performed by his mother. This is the first step in fulfilling the prophecy that predicts his destiny as Crow God. We then jump forward a few years, Serapio, now a young man, is about to journey to Tova to confront, well, not to be spoilery, to fulfil his mission in life.

Xiala is a mysterious sea captain known as a ‘Teek’. The Teek are feared and also revered for their abilities to sing to the sea and the sea creatures and smooth the passage of ships that travel upon them. Xiala is an outcast who now takes jobs as and when she can find them. Her latest job takes her onto the wider oceans (rarely travelled upon at this time of year due to the threat of stormy weather and the inevitable watery grave) where she is charged with transporting Serapio to Tova. A journey that must be completed within a certain period to coincide with the Solstice and solar eclipse.

Meanwhile, at Tova we meet Nara, recently appointed Sun Priest. She has new ideas and is enthusiastic about making positive changes. Unfortunately, it would seem that not everyone is equally enamoured with this recent appointment and Nara will encounter assassination attempts and behind doors machinations to remove her from this coveted position.

Finally, Okoa, member of the Crow Clan. Recently returned to the fold to support his sister following the somewhat suspicious death, of their mother.

Now, you do have to bear with things here because obviously with four characters populating the pages there’s a lot to take in, but it is well worth the effort.

I loved the writing, there’s something subtle and understated about how the author manages to combine so many elements and pull them together in a way that makes you hungry for the next instalment. On top of this she injects history, myth and lore with religion and rebellion and chucks in a little seafaring and light romance for good measure. To top it off, the characters are each so distinct with their own stories and histories to discover. And, what’s really superb is the tingly feeling that I have that Roanhorse has only just scraped the surface of what’s to come such as learning more about Nara and her family, particularly her brother, or Xiala and her abilities – or more to the point, finding out what she truly is. And, if this isn’t enough, for me, there’s an ambiguity here, that is very clever. For example, Serapio – is he one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. It’s difficult to tell at this point and it feels like the lines are muddied for a purpose.

Now, one thing I will say, and this isn’t a criticism so much as an observation, I couldn’t help feeling more attached to certain characters/storylines. Xiala and Serapio stole the show a little for me but I’m still open to the other storylines winning me over in the next instalment.

I think it’s probably time to start drawing this review to a close and in case you haven’t guessed, this was great and I definitely recommend it without a doubt.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion. I also bought a copy of the audio and I both read and listened – and I thought the audio for this was really good.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

16 Responses to “Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I was looking forward to this since it was announced, so I’m very, very glad to see that it delivers on all its promises 🙂

  2. Sofii @ A Book. A Thought.

    Amazing Review! ❤️ I’m SO glad you enjoyed it, it sounds just SO good, I’ll definitely be reading it next year 😊✨

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you get a chance to pick it up. Well worth it Ithink.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I loved this too, such a great opening to a new series!

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Yay! I loved this one too. I think she’s getting better with each book, and I really feel she got her chance to flex her world building muscles with this one.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, just that precisely. Like she’s really getting into her comfort zone now.
      Lynn 😀

  5. evelynreads1

    Great review! I really want to pick this one jup, and her previous work as well!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

  6. pagesandtea

    Glad this one lived up to expectations, it sounds really good and I love that striking cover 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      The cover is perfect tbh – I realised just how very perfect after finishing the read.
      Lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    You scared me at first at the beginning of your review, I thought you were going into how disappointed you were LOL. PHEW. I’m looking forward to this one, whenever my copy arrives. 🙂

  8. Ola G

    Glad to see you enjoyed this one so much! I was tempted by this on NG, and now I’m convinced to give Black Sun a try 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, if you get a chance to pick it up I hope you love it – and will definitely be keen to read your thoughts.
      Lynn 😀

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