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Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Book Name: Black Sun
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Publisher(s): Saga Press
Formatt: Hardcover / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: October 13, 2020

When an author has an impressive debut year—as in being nominated for and winning several literary awards: the Hugo, the Nebula, etc.—the question is can the author go further and beyond with their stories and their writings after a strong debut? The answer is, yes! And several authors have managed to do this with their later works. Rebecca Roanhorse is the latest author to accomplish this with her novel, Black Sun, the first book in the new epic fantasy series, Between Earth and Sky.

There are four protagonists in this novel, whose points-of-view provide insight into what will happen on the upcoming winter solstice. First, there is Serapio, whose mother is from a tribe who call themselves Carrion Crow. They blind him in a ritual in order for him to be ready for his transcendence to godhood. Second, is Xiala, a Teek—a tribe of females whose power of Song and sea travel make them valuable assets in more ways than one—who is tasked with a commission to sail cargo to Tova—the Holy City—by the winter solstice. One of the “cargo” is a blind man.

Third, is Naranpa, a Sun Priest(ess)—and, the head of the oracle society—from humble beginnings who is caught between multiple conspiracies against her, including one from the other heads of the priesthood. The fourth and last protagonist is Okoa, a student at a war college who returns to Tova for his mother’s funeral, and to take up his role as his sister’s protector. During this time, he is approached by some of his tribesmen and learns of a prophecy that might be close to fulfillment. These four protagonists from different backgrounds and political standings find themselves in compromising scenarios in which Tova is the location and the winter solstice is THE date central to everything that will be unleashed whether or not the protagonists are ready for it.

Other notable characters include: Iktan, the head of assassins of the priesthood and a close friend of Naranpa, whose motivations put Naranpa in a dilemma as to whether or not friendship can prevail over political hierarchy. Serapio’s tutors, who were friends with his mother, who prepare Serapio for his destiny. Xiala’s crew, who are as superstitious of Serapio as they are of Xiala’s hidden nature. Esa, the new matron of Carrion Crow and Okoa’s sister. And, the Odohaa, a group who proclaim their god will return to Tova on the winter solstice. There are a lot of players in the city of Tova and they all know something is coming, but will they all survive the return of a god and his vengeance?

Black Sun stands out from other books of the fantasy genre. In addition to the familiar themes and tropes of “the chosen one” and “divine retribution,” there is enough backstory—through the author’s worldbuilding—to let readers know religion and retribution play a huge role in this story. And those who are devoted to their beliefs are willing to do anything for their faith, even dying for it. At the same time, the debate of destiny versus free will is explored in a way that will stay with the reader for a long time after they finish reading the story.

What I enjoyed about the most is the use of symbolism throughout the novel. This includes prophecies, numbers, magic, elements, and other moments of foreshadowing. Not to mention, the narration jumps between different moments in time. This is done in order to put more emphasis on what is relevant to the story. So, readers don’t have to read through any “unnecessary” moments, everything presented is relevant to the story.

I believe the type of story Roanhorse is trying to tell involves the importance and the significance of one day, which marks an event, and how people choose to interpret it. To one group of people within a society, it marks a forbidden event or occurrence to come. To another, the day marks when retribution will come to those who have wronged them. And still another, will do all it can to make sure the day is marked by a moment of peace instead of one of war. In all, the day marks a moment of change to come, and no matter what happens and who believes in it or not, whatever is coming is coming, and there is no stopping it.

If you are a fan of fantasy and want to read a book that gets straight to the heart of the story, then you must read Black Sun. Roanhorse presents an amazing epic fantasy adventure inspired by Pre-Columbian American civilizations in an equivalent world complete with magic, prophecies, superstitions, political power, and an epic showdown. By the time readers realize what is about to occur and wonder whether or not the author will go through with it, it happens, and they are left with numerous questions. Fortunately, and unfortunately, we all have to wait until book two to learn of the aftermath, and to receive our answers.

Black Sun demonstrates how powerful Roanhorse has become within the fantasy genre. This mythological epic fantasy will make you remember what you learned about Pre-Columbian America, and why the region’s history and culture continues to fascinate us. There is more to come from this series, and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Black Sun is due out October 13th and is available for pre-order now, from anywhere that sells great books!



  1. Avatar Dee says:

    Great review! I’m really looking forward to this book. Heard Roanhorse on a panel at CoNZealand about indigenous perspectives on fantastic fiction and she was really engaging.

  2. Avatar ScarletBea says:

    To my list! 😀

  3. Avatar Thistle & Verse says:

    Enjoyed the review. This book is high on my TBR. Heard so many good things.

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