Summary and book reviews of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

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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Book Reviewed by:
Debbie Morrison
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, 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


In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man's mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.

CHAPTER 1
THE OBREGI MOUNTAINS

YEAR 315 OF THE SUN
(10 YEARS BEFORE CONVERGENCE)

O Sun! You cast cruel shadow
Black char for flesh, the tint of feathers
Have you forsaken mercy?

—From Collected Lamentations from the Night of Knives

Today he would become a god. His mother had told him so.

"Drink this," she said, handing him a cup. The cup was long and thin and filled with a pale creamy liquid. When he sniffed it, he smelled the orange flowers that grew in looping tendrils outside his window, the ones with the honey centers. But he also smelled the earthy sweetness of the bell-shaped flowers she cultivated in her courtyard garden, the one he was never allowed to play in. And he knew there were things he could not smell in the drink, secret things, things that came from the bag his mother wore around her neck, that whitened the tips of her fingers and his own tongue.

"Drink it now, Serapio," she said, resting a hand briefly against his cheek. "It's better to drink it cold. And I've ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Black Sun embodies some of the best that fantasy writing has to offer. Rather than modeling its alternate reality after medieval Europe (as so many successful fantasy novels have done), Roanhorse takes readers into the pre-Columbian culture and landscape of the Americas. Historically, when fictional/fantasy literary landscapes have so often erased whole races, cultures and gender identities, Black Sun's alternative landscapes restore a plurality and give those voices space to be heard...continued

Full Review (695 words).

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(Reviewed by Debbie Morrison).

Media Reviews

BookPage
[A]n engaging story that keeps the reader in the moment through shifting narrative lenses...Black Sun has one drawback: It is clearly the start of a series, and ends like it. Readers looking for an open-and-shut story will not find it here...but there is plenty of fascinating interplay and world building to keep readers engaged and entertained from start to finish.

The Washington Post
Readers are in for intricate world-building, engrossing adventure and stunning backdrops.

Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Bold, richly emotional and expertly crafted, Black Sun shines brighter than even the highest expectations.

Booklist
A must read for fans of N.K. Jemisin's epic fantasy and those who love George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series but want more diverse worlds.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Roanhorse strikes a perfect balance between powerful worldbuilding and rich thematic exploration as the protagonists struggle against their fates. Fantasy fans will be wowed.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A beautifully crafted setting with complex character dynamics and layers of political intrigue? Perfection. Mark your calendars, this is the next big thing.

Library Journal (starred review)
Roanhorse introduces an epic fantasy with vivid worldbuilding and exciting prose. Readers will be attracted to the story, in which there is no real right vs. wrong. Only inevitable change will draw out the heroes of this imaginative tale.

Author Blurb Ken Liu, award-winning author of The Grace of Kings and The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
"I emerged from Black Sun bleary-eyed, tongue-tied, heart-swollen. This is a brilliant world that shows the full panoply of human grace and depravity. Rebecca Roanhorse is the epic voice of our continent and time.

Author Blurb Stephen Graham Jones, award-winning author of The Only Good Indians and Mongrels
This is the novel I've been waiting for. This is the novel we've all been waiting for. Everything's different now, with Black Sun. Different and better. Stands shoulder to shoulder with the very best fantasy out there. There's Martin, there's Jemisin, and now there's Roanhorse.

Author Blurb S.A. Chakraborty, nationally bestselling author of The City of Brass
Absolutely tremendous. Roanhorse knocks it out of the park again with an epic tale about duty and destiny that will sweep readers away and broaden the horizons of an entire genre.

Author Blurb Justina Ireland, New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation
Black Sun is an inspired fantasy that will keep you turning pages past your bedtime and have you cheering for each of the ensemble cast as they careen towards a fateful cataclysm. Love fantasy? This is the book for you. Hate fantasy? This is especially for you. Roanhorse has created an excellent world that feels lived in and characters that feel like people you know, which is exactly what I would expect in a book by an author at the top of her game.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Pre-Columbian Religion in the Americas

Maya temple of Kukulcán, a stone step pyramid in what is now the Yucatan state of MexicoOne of the most spectacular elements of Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun is its deep dive into pre-Columbian culture and beliefs. In a stark departure from the usual medieval European landscape used as a foundation in fantasy novels, Roanhorse instead uses the ancient landscape and religions of the Americas as the blueprint for her work. In Black Sun, there is a conflict between the ruling cult of the Sun Priest and one of the old gods in the city of Tova. But readers learn that even this returning god is only one of many that the people worship.

As demonstrated in the novel, religious traditions in the pre-Columbian Americas were not monolithic. However, the major pre-Columbian civilizations — Aztec, Maya, Inca, Toltec, and Olmec &#...

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Readalikes

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