Excerpt from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Black Sun

Between Earth and Sky #1

by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse X
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
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  • Published:
    Oct 2020, 464 pages

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His mother blinked, obviously surprised by his insight, and then she shrugged.

"Perhaps," she agreed. "The Obregi fear many things they do not understand. Now, hold still until I'm done."

She worked quickly, coloring his teeth a deep carmine until it looked like blood filled his mouth. She smiled. Her teeth were the same. Father was right to fear her like this, the boy thought. She looked fierce, powerful. The handmaiden of a god.

"How does your back feel?" she asked as she returned the bowl of dye to the table.

"Fine," he lied. She had carved the haahan on his back earlier that day at dawn. Woken him from bed, fed him his first cup of numbing poison, and told him it was time. He had rolled dutifully onto his stomach, and she had begun.

She'd used a special kind of blade he had never seen, thin and delicate and very sharp. She talked to him as she worked, telling him that if he had been with his clan, a beloved uncle or cousin would have carved his haahan over a series of months or even years, but there was no time left and it had to be her, today. Then she had told him tales of the great crow god as she cut curving lines—the suggestion of crow wings—across his shoulders and down his lateral muscles. It had burned like sticking his hand in the fire, perhaps because he hadn't drunk the full measure of the drink. But he had endured the pain with only a whimper. Next, she made him sit up and she had cut a crow skull at the base of his throat, beak extending down his chest, so it sat like a pendant in his skin. The pain was tenfold worse than the wings had been, and the only thing that had kept him from screaming was the fear that she might accidentally slice his throat if he moved too suddenly. He knew his mother's people carved their flesh as a symbol of their perpetual mourning for what was lost, and he was proud to bear the haahan, but tears still flowed down his cheeks.

When she was done, she had taken in her handiwork with a critical eye. "Now they will recognize you when you go home, even if you do look too much Obregi."

Her words stung, especially that she would say them even as she marked him. Not that he wasn't used to the observation, the teasing from other children that he looked not enough this or too much that.

"Is Obregi bad?" he dared to ask, the poison still making him overbold. Obregi was certainly the only home he had ever known. He had always understood that his mother was the foreigner here; she came from a city called Tova that was far away and belonged to a people there who called themselves Carrion Crow. But his father was Obregi and a lord. This was his ancestral home they lived in, his family's land the workers tilled. The boy had even been given an Obregi name. He had also inherited the curling hair and slightly paler face of his father's people, although his narrow eyes, wide mouth, and broad cheeks were his mother's.

"No, son," she chided, "this life, this place"—she gestured around them, taking in the cool stone walls and the rich weavings that hung from them, the view of the snowy mountains outside, the entire nation of the Obregi—"was all to keep you safe until you could return to Tova."

Safe from what? He wanted to ask, but instead he said, "When will that be?"

She sighed and pressed her hands against her thighs. "I am no Watcher in the celestial tower," she said, shaking her head, "but I think it will not be so long now."

"A month? A year?" he prodded. Not so long now could mean anything.

"We are not forgotten," she assured him, her face softening. She brushed back an unruly lock that had fallen across his forehead. Her dark eyes brimmed with a love that warmed him from head to toe. She may look frightening to his father like this, but to him she was beautiful.

Shadows moved across the floor, and she looked over her shoulder as the afternoon light turned strange.

Excerpted from Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Copyright © 2020 by Rebecca Roanhorse. Excerpted by permission of Gallery Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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