Imagine an epic fantasy novel set in pre-Columbian-inspired-Americas that features a voyage, political uncertainty, deception, alternating perspectives and MAGIC. This book IS IT, and more. In Black Sun, multiple storylines revolve around a solar eclipse that is set to take place during the upcoming winter solstice in Tova. It is rumored that the Crow God will return during the eclipse; while many do not believe it, some lives hang in the balance as the story plunges forward in a countdown toward the day of the eclipse.
Rebecca Roanhorse touches on the political, the magical, the personal, and the spiritual in this epic fantasy. We experience a voyage at sea, a behind-the-scenes of the religious elite, a bit of magic, and we learn about the making of a god. Like many fantasy books, it can take about 50 to 100 pages to find your footing in the world of the story, and I found that to be easy with Black Sun, thanks to Roanhorse’s skillful world-building. The world and its inner workings are unique and interesting without being inaccessible or too lofty to enjoy reading. Once each character and their background is introduced, the story is fast-paced.
Naranpa, an “outsider” in her circle, battles inner and outer critics daily for her rightful place as the Sun Priest. She is trying to enter the celebratory season of the solstice while enduring attempts on her life.
Xiala, a Teek captain, has carved a life for herself out of nothing and is given the important job of transporting an important passenger on her ship.
Serapio, a blind man, spends his days in preparation, knowing that he is destined for more than his solitary life.
These characters provide us with important threads that slowly come together over the course of the 450 page tome. The multiple perspectives we follow are glimpses into the lives of not only the characters whose section we are reading, but also other characters at different times in the story. It was interesting to get crucial moments in the book from multiple angles.
There were a couple of character backgrounds that I wish could have been fleshed out more. However, since this is the first in a series, I believe that this information could come in the next book. (By the way, when is it coming out? I. Need. To. Know.)
Like many readers of Black Sun, I loved the diversity of identities from main and side characters; the LGBTQ+ representation is present on and off the page. There are queer relationships, trans identities, and gender neutral language throughout the story. The time and careful craft that went into this book is nothing short of exceptional. Ultimately, the fantastical setting, alternating points of view and the characters made Black Sun an unputdownable read.
If you’re interested in learning more about this book and the author, check out FBC founder Renee Power’s recent podcast episode with author Rebecca Roanhorse.