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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2020)
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.

454 pages, Hardcover

First published October 13, 2020

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About the author

Rebecca Roanhorse

54 books8,071 followers
Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes Bestseller and a Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (formerly Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Her novels include TRAIL OF LIGHTNING, STORM OF LOCUSTS, STAR WARS: RESISTANCE REBORN, and RACE TO THE SUN. Her upcoming novel BLACK SUN is set to release 10/13/2020.

She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug. Find more at https://rebeccaroanhorse.com/ and on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex..

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,574 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
August 11, 2022
It's hard to talk about this book because it is so many things at once.

It's a heady epic and an intimate portrait of people wracked with the wounds of generational trauma, of unbelonging, of being an outsider in a land that cradles you with one arm and pushes you away with the other. It's an inquiry into what it means to be a “hero” vs. “villain”, “a good person” vs “a bad person” vs “a monster”, that doesn't flinch away from the darker aspects of humanity. It's a masterclass in subverting the wearisome euro-centricity of epic fantasy that carves new spaces for Indigenous stories to breathe. It's a triumph of queerness that imagines a world where queer people can just be, without the need for some kind of statement.

There's a bisexual mermaid/sea-captain and a goth who is a vessel for a wrathful god. A scholar-priestess with way too many enemies, save perhaps one non-binary assassin who loves her. The inherent intimacy of tracing someone's palm, of sharing a bed mere moments before tragedy. Gratuitous mass murders via a murder of crows (the pun practically wrote itself). And then more.

It is, at the end of the day, not so much a novel, but an experience. Roanhorse’s storytelling will carry you far from home, sweeping like a sweet wind past jagged mountains and over vast expanses of ocean and cliff cities that weathered the anger of gods. It will pour you into ships with fickle crewmen and ill-lit cells that unlock to new beginnings. It will siphon you away from the dead-end corridors of a loveless house before the walls hem you in, and pin your heart to a small, hushed cabin where longing still lingers in the air like lightning.

And, at last, you will fall still atop a freestanding mesa where a man opens his eyes and becomes a god. And you will realize you need the sequel like an ember needs air.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,308 reviews44k followers
October 27, 2022
OMG! Banging my head against the door! Why I didn’t notice this remarkably creative author’s work before! ( Right now I’m adding her previous works to my monstrous tbr and I’m not afraid of any eruption!)

The world building already blew my mind with its refreshing view which is inspired by Pre-Columbian Americans (indigenous people)! The story centered on 4 characters:
Serapio: a young boy’s suffering and tremendously compelling journey to turn turn into a Crow God has the most remarkable part and I got fully invested with his POV!

Crow God vs Sun priest is one of the most anticipated encounter I was waiting on for the beginning : breathing heavily, sweat pouring out from my forehead, pumps up, clock is ticking and I’m flipping the pages to find out what is going to happen!

I mesmerized to know about Serapio whose back story intrigued me from the beginning how his eyes are carved and sacrificed by his mother for a greater good and how the crows turn into his only accomplice by turning into own his eyes, protectors and after his training process with the most dangerous and skillful instructors teach him the secrets of defeating the most power enemies.

And Xiala, sailor, mysterious sea creator who gains her magical powers and rules the sea world as she opens her mouth and begins to sing. She was the another intriguing, entertaining, likable, heart stealing character.

Those two characters’ paths crossed as Xiala is discharged from the prison with the help of powerful and mysterious lord and offered a job to reach holy city Tova less than a month, conducting a sheep with misbehaved sailors, carrying a spectacular cargo: yes, you may imagine, Serapio is the cargo who needs to arrive to Tova before the eclipse as the moon gets dark and he can accomplish his longtime plan.

We are also introduced with Nara: sun priest, ( her back story, dysfunctional family relations, her unfinished business with her criminal brother peaked my interest) oracle and Okoa, who recently lost his mother and he is accused to be the murderer of Sun Priest ( he got involved a few chapters later but I think we will learn more about him at the next books). I think their stories are a little overshadowed by other two strong characters.
Even though their parts of the story were intriguing, I wished to turn the pages faster to read more about Seropia and Xiala ( powerful, entertaining, alcoholic, sea creature who is abused by her own mother just like Serapio, and yes she’s bisexual, living her own life without thinking further, drinking to death, preparing herself for more rejections and betrayal) Their intimate chemistry and their exciting and whirlwind sailing trip was most enjoyable thing about the book.

Overall: two characters beat the hell of the other two and the cliffhanger made me bite the rest of my nails, kept me on my toes! This is fascinatingly promising, dazzling, riveting beginning of the series!

I’m giving 4.5 stars ( because I wanted to read more parts about Xiala and Serapio who definitely stole the show) eventually round them up to 5! I started to cross my fingers for getting the second book’s arc ASAP because waiting too long could be torturous!

So much special thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/ Saga Press for providing this amazing ARC which was at my wish list in exchange my honest opinions.

Profile Image for mina reads™️.
544 reviews7,024 followers
February 17, 2021
as the oracle lady gaga once said “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, showstopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique”

This is the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy which is inspired by the civilizations of the pre-colonial Americas. This setting was absolutely brilliant, it was vibrant and captivating from the very first chapter. We embark on a journey of celestial prophesy, political intrigue, and magic.

We follow multiple POVs, a shy blind young man, Serapio, destined for great and unfortunate things. a bisexual ship captain, Xiala, who’s a mermaid 👀 tasked with bringing this young man to the city of Tova. In Tova we follow the sun priestess Naranpa as she tries to celebrate the convergence of the sun and moon amidst various attempts on her life. These characters were beautifully realized and I found myself deeply entranced by them, particularly Serapio a young man who is destined to be a vessel of the ancient crow god. I’m obsessed with him, he was such an awesome character, so nuanced and beautiful. Xiala our sea captain is an absolute legend without a doubt and my new book girlfriend! And Naranpa our sun priest truly cannot catch a break but following her as she navigates the ever shifting hierarchies of the sun priesthood and religious dissent among the ruling families was so high stakes and interesting.

Finally I want to express appreciation for how casually queer this book is, with multiple nonbinary and trans side characters as well as a bisexual protag. Absolutely adored this fantasy, with it’s brilliant writing, setting, characters and intriguing mythology. I can’t wait to reread it this week. Fantasy fans add it to your tbr

cw: violence, child abuse, scarification, drug use

Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46k followers
May 4, 2023
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRjh...

ARC provided by the publisher—Saga Press—in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

Fascinating world-building and riveting narrative. Black Sun was my first venture in Rebecca Roanhorse’s works, and it certainly won’t be the last.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about The Sixth World, an ongoing urban fantasy series by Roanhorse, but I haven’t managed to get to them yet. When I saw this book being offered to review by Saga Press, I took a look at the cover, the blurb, and after hearing that this is a high fantasy, I immediately jumped at the chance to read and review it early. In other words, I knew absolutely nothing about the content of this book. And wow, I couldn’t be more pleasantly surprised. Black Sun was incredible, and if this is Roanhorse’s first foray into high fantasy, consider me a reader who’s willing to follow her career.

“The costliest mistake one can make is to underestemite one’s opponent through low expectations.”

Black Sun is the first book in Between Earth and Sky trilogy, and it is a high fantasy inspired by the civilizations Pre-Columbian Americas (how cool is this!?) The winter solstice in the holy city of Tova usually means a time for celebration and renewal. But there’s an exception this time. This year’s winter solstice Converged with the solar eclipse, and this is a rare Celestial event that dictates an unbalancing of the world. Xiala, a disgraced Teek—someone who has the power to calm waters through their Songs—receives a task to deliver a supposedly harmless passenger named Serapio by the time of the Convergence. This is a tale of destiny, celestial prophecies, sacrifice, and dark magic, and it’s one filled with individuals struggling to do their best to fulfill the role they’re given.

“Life is a series of false hopes. We all have misplaced hopes until we learn better. I did.”

Roanhorse has done an incredible job of crafting her characters here. Although there were four main POV characters to follow, Xiala and Serapio were unquestionably my favorites in the book. The majority of their POV chapters took place on the sea, and if you knew my reading taste, you would know that I tend to not like reading a fantasy book that takes place mostly on a boat/sea. I think of seafaring to be one of the most uninspiring settings in fantasy, and if possible, I prefer it to be done in shorter longevity. But this is one of many reasons why I think Roanhorse is a great author. She was able to keep me thoroughly immersed despite the seafaring setting that I usually disliked by creating well-realized characters with broken past and spectacular developments. I loved reading the gradual progression of Xiala’s and Serapio’s relationship, and Serapio’s flashback chapters were put to good effect; they enhanced his characterizations and motivations further. Also, Serapio is a blinded and scarred character; in the acknowledgment, Roanhorse mentioned the extensive research she did to make sure a character with blindness is represented rightfully. Whether she succeeds or not, it’s up to each reader to decide, but I personally found it’s praiseworthy that she’s willing to go that far.

“A man with a destiny is a man who fears nothing.”

This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy reading the other two main characters, Naranpa’s journey and the difficulty she faced in maintaining her role as the Sun Priest in Tova was intriguing. I also loved reading Okoa’s POV, and seeing how these four characters fate intertwined with each other was darkly delightful. Roanhorse has an accessible writing style that flows nicely, and the great dualities in the scenes that occurred in the setting of land and water exhibited through the four characters wonderfully tightened the pacing of the narrative; suffice to say that I was never bored throughout this book.

“Many of you, including my own Knife, object to this appointment, but you must trust that in my old age, perhaps I read a future in the heavens that you cannot. You may think her a puzzling choice, and you would be right. But often greatness comes from unexpected places.”

There’s no long action scenes, but every moment of them was greatly done. Roanhorse’s prose was very easily visualized in my mind; the scenes that depict the whirlwind of slaughter and the leaking of blood from the eyes were so vivid in my mind. Seriously, the environment and the terrifying change in weather and atmosphere were also palpable. The dimming of the sun, the screaming of the wind, and the arrival of the obsidian sky when the avatar of the Carrion God’s shadow magic was executed felt insanely real. In addition to this, I also enjoyed reading about the world-building; it’s quite different from the books I usually read, and I appreciate how every epigraph that starts each chapter deepened the world-building of this series.

“Violence should only be used in defense, and even then, it corrupts. If you must kill your enemy, do it quickly and be done. To linger only invites humiliation of both the victim and the self, and there is no honor there.”

So yeah, I loved Black Sun. It was a short and compelling read, I finished it within two days, and I think this is one book that every fantasy readers—young or adult—would highly enjoy. I can’t believe that I picked up Black Sun randomly, and it ended up being one my favorite reads of the year. I’m looking forward to the next book already, and I will definitely check out The Sixth World series one day.

“If your stories are of the glory of war, then I will know you value power. If your stories are of kinship, then I know you value relationship. If your stories are of many children, I know you value legacy. But if your stories are of adaptation and survival, of long memory and revenge, then I will know you are a Crow like me.”

Official release date: 13th October 2020

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping) | Bookshop (Support Local Bookstores!)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Devin, Diana, Hamad, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Michelle, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Zoe.
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
489 reviews39k followers
December 17, 2020

Overall a solid fantasy filled with fascinating characters and colorful storytelling, (and an incredible strong start with the most foreboding tone that sets off the rest of the book), this had too much of a 'telling and not showing' aspect to it. And the second aspect I didn't really like: this one really sets up its grandiose twists and promises all for the sequel. All the build up, albeit beautifully and well written, but still too little too late for me.

Xiala was a favorite, though.

If you're a fantasy newbie and looking for something equally fun and riveting without that daunting and complicated chaos of starting something thicc and different, this is the perfect pick for you,


(Read for The Late Night Book Club. Liveshow here: https://youtu.be/XHGDvND0ewQ)

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Profile Image for S.A. Chakraborty.
Author 9 books10.8k followers
June 13, 2020
I just finished BLACK SUN by and genuinely don't have words to convey how absolutely tremendous it is. You ever just feel honored to read a book? To feel the boundaries of your genre expand and delight in knowing how many people are going to love it and feel seen?

If you like any sort of fantasy, you NEED it. Epic fantasy set in a world inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas in a way that is glorious and celebratory and rich. Slow burn romance and lady sea captains and awesome cliff cities and a "please don't be a villain, I love you" MCs. I'm already itching for the next book!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,615 reviews10.7k followers
August 26, 2023
Black Sun slapped me in the face!

I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. I expected to enjoy it, sure, but this absolutely transported me to another time and place.

This lush, epic Fantasy is inspired by civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas. I loved the incorporation of those aspects. It was like nothing I had ever read before.

Following multiple-POVs, Roanhorse was able to seamlessly transition from one perspective to the next without disrupting the flow of the narrative. I thought all the different angles were handled so well.

There's an ancient prophecy that you get to watch coming to fruition right before your eyes, as all the puzzle pieces move into place just in time for a rare celestial event; a solar eclipse on the day of the winter solstice.

The Sun Priest, basically the highest religious position of this ancient land, has stated that this event will bring about an imbalance in the world.

As the story begins, you are introduced to the main characters, Serapio, Xiala, Naranpa and Okoa, who will play fundamental roles in the prophecy.

They're on the move, everyone is heading towards the holy city of Tova, where a great festival for the solstice will be held.

The tension builds at a nice steady pace over the course of the story, but as you approach the end, hold onto your hats, it feels like it is all going to explode. I was shocked an awed by the events in Tova.

I loved the level of intrigue, plotting, back-stabbing and danger that Roanhorse brought to this story. It's multifaceted and fascinating.

Even though this is a complex story, set in a fully built-out world, it never felt overwhelming or info-dumpy. That's a hard thing to do. To create a world like this, done this well, takes real skill. I doff my cap to Roanhorse.

I'm so excited to get my hands on the next book in this series and am extremely glad it is going to be releasing soon. This first book definitely ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I don't want to forget a thing!

This was one of the easiest 5-star ratings I have given this year. I am so happy I finally fit this one into my schedule. A complete delight!

Profile Image for Nataliya.
784 reviews12.5k followers
December 20, 2021
“I am the only storm that matters now, and there is no shelter from what I bring.”
Obviously my opinion is an unpopular one given the high rating this book holds, but I can really sum up my feelings about it in one word — “Meh.”

I think a big reason why this book garnered such attention was the setting — an epic fantasy based on pre-Colombian American cultures rather than the standard quasi-medieval Western European-style setting. And yes, the setting is different than that standard, but that’s all. Other than that the story was not unfamiliar — political clashes between the factions of theocratic society, a god reborn to carry our vengeance, and a hasty romance between a lovable rogue ship captain and that god avatar. There’s a cringeworthy chapter right at the start featuring child mutilation in the name of the ancient god, but after that it’s the more or less familiar epic fantasy ground. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Except that it did absolutely nothing for me. All 400 pages left me absolutely indifferent. It was an easy read, without any glaring issues, with perfectly serviceable prose and characters. And yet I just could not bring myself to care, periodically glancing at the Kindle percentage to see if we are there yet.

I could not connect with these characters at all, except at times with Xiala and her recognizable lovable rogue persona — but that stemmed more from me liking this archetype and therefore looking for the reasons to like her. But even then I ended up caring less and less as the book progressed. The rest of them - Naranpa, Okoa, Serapio — nope, nothing, don’t care although I feel I’m supposed to, although I see exactly where those points of connection are meant to be. Their inner worlds I found to be uninteresting, their struggles unconvincing. It all felt strangely superficial, like they were just fitting their roles in the story — and nothing more, with their voices barely distinguishable.

And that romance was unnecessary, with a bath scene that made me cringe in its unintended awkwardness.

And then the plot *finally* lumbers to the cliffhanger-ish conclusion — and I happily closed the book without feeling the need to ever read the sequel (unless, that is, it gets nominated for Hugo or Nebula Awards in the future).

And in the end, nothing about this one really stands out. Forgettable at best.

2.5 stars, rounding down for sheer indifference. As I said - meh.


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,953 followers
September 23, 2022
Reread 2022

Well, I marked this a 4 star read. I originally had it a 5 star and on my favorites list. I don’t know why. I still like it but I’m trading in my hardback and keeping on kindle.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m finding I love things I wouldn’t ordinarily love and Vice versa. I guess I’m going crazier 😳

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.7k followers
November 27, 2020
TW: blood; mutilation/scarification; self harm; drug and alcohol use; suicide

I listened to this on audio and highly recommend it as the cast is wonderful. This book solidified Roanhorse as an author I’ll be keeping my eye on. This combines interesting lore (crow mythology AND mermaids/sirens?!), political intrigue, and celestial events into one satisfying start to a series. There are a few cliffhangers at the end, so I am distressed that we don’t already have a release date for the sequel.
Profile Image for Melissa ~ Bantering Books.
250 reviews998 followers
November 13, 2020
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

Epic fantasy fans – rejoice! Get ready to shout from your rooftops and jump for joy.

Because Rebecca Roanhorse has given us a gift. A magical and wondrous gift. Black Sun, the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, is FANTASTIC.

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

On the continent of Meridian lies the holy city of Tova, home to the Watchers and the Sky Made clans, where celebrations for the winter solstice are drawing near. This year, however, the timing of the solstice runs concurrently with a solar eclipse, which will disrupt the delicate balance of the world, according to the warnings of the Sun Priest, Naranpa.

In the city of Cuecola, a ship captained by Xiala, a magical Teek who can sing the wills of both water and men into submission, departs for Tova. Her ship’s cargo? Serapio, a blind man who, like Xiala, is shrouded in tales of superstition. Xiala has but one task – provide Serapio safe and timely passage to Tova by the winter solstice. No delays. No detours. And no questions asked.

For a minute, I considered keeping this review short and sweet. I thought that I would write no more than a few raving sentences about how much I adored Black Sun and then simply tell everyone to read it, read it, read it. But I then realized what a disservice that would be to Roanhorse and the novel. She, and the book, certainly deserve more than a few fan-girlish, delirious sentences.

For Black Sun is superb. It is the most epic of epic fantasy. And it deserves every ounce of its fervent hype.

The story has something for everyone. It’s filled with sea adventure, culture, history, political intrigue, and romance. (A bit of a rushed romance, but that's a minor quibble.) There are gods and celestial prophecies. Magic of the earth, sea, sky, and blood. Characters that are diverse in gender and sexual orientation.

And the world-building is phenomenal. Set in a land inspired by the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas, Roanhorse has crafted a lush and exotic fantastical world. The architecture, food, scents, clothing, climate, and landscapes of the Meridian cities are all vividly created, fully enveloping the senses. I am in awe of the breadth of Roanhorse’s imagination.

There is little, if any, info-dumping, too. The intricacies of the world are organically revealed as the novel progresses, without its complexity ever feeling overwhelming or intimidating. Roanhorse’s writing is also accessible and clear, which is helpful and aids the reader’s understanding of Meridian’s inner workings.

But the world-building isn’t the only reason why Black Sun is so effective. Roanhorse has put considerable time and effort into sculpting her characters, creating memorable protagonists who tug at our emotions. The story is told through the multiple points of view of Xiala, Serapio, Naranpa (the Sun Priest), and Okoa (of clan Carrion Crow) – and all four characters are extremely likeable and sympathetic.

Scratch that. To clarify, they are likeable and sympathetic enough, at least, to allow us to be fully invested in each of them as individuals.

Overall, Xiala and Okoa are the most endearing, even though they are the two characters that left me a bit wanting. Their backstories are a little vague -- (perhaps, intentionally so?) -- and I wanted to know more. I have a hunch, though, that their personal histories will be fleshed out a little further in the second book. Or that is my hope.

Naranpa is the least appealing of the four leads, as she is often a bit uptight and inflexible. But as the novel evolves, so does our appreciation of her plight and character growth.

And Serapio is, by far, the most complicated and nuanced of the foursome. Is he a hero? Or a villain? We do not know. And like Xiala, I struggled with my own feelings towards him and at times questioned the empathy he stirred within my heart. The dark path he is set upon is not of his own choosing, to be sure. Yet what of his free will?!?! Is it not ultimately his choice whether to follow the path?

Yes -- Black Sun provides some good food for thought.

Regarding pace, I feel I should mention that the first half of the novel moves noticeably slower than the second. The latter half is more intense, with swift and frequent action, all of which leads to a riveting conclusion. The three separate narrative threads (I say three, not four, because Xiala and Serapio’s narrative arcs are so tightly intertwined) come together ingeniously by novel’s end, and the stage is beautifully set for the second installment.

And I honestly do not know what I will do with myself while I impatiently await the next book in the trilogy.

Oh, I will read other novels. Lots and lots of other novels. That is a given.

But I strongly suspect they will be starkly eclipsed by the brilliance of Black Sun.

My sincerest appreciation to Saga Press and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.

Bantering Books
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,997 followers
October 21, 2020
Good book though not a great fit for me. Reading Black Sun reminded me a lot of my experience reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. While I recognize the quality of the world-building, this type of epic fantasy rarely appeals to me if the characters are not compelling and well-developed.

I appreciated the novel’s world-building in that it is inspired by the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas. I also enjoyed the inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals, in particular characters who are a third gender and use xe/xir pronouns. This representation felt sensitive and smoothly incorporated without drawing undue attention to itself for the sake of it.

I just couldn’t connect with the characters in Black Sun. We follow three main storylines with different characters in varying levels of precarity and danger. Unfortunately I didn’t feel much suspense in any of their situations and these characters’ internal worlds did not draw me in. I felt like a solid amount happened plot-wise yet these characters’ relationships and inner feelings and emotions were not developed as much as I would’ve liked. If you’re a fan of fantasy I’d recommend reading other reviews to assess if this book may be a good fit for you, despite my lack of enthusiasm.
Profile Image for jenny✨.
578 reviews839 followers
November 16, 2020
The self-deprecating part of me that is unused to overwhelming positive emotion (and that attempts to minimize anything of meaning to me) was tempted to start this review off by quipping, This is the book I never knew I needed! but that wouldn’t be quite right.

In truth, this is the book my soul—and the souls of many others, I’m sure—has needed for a long, long time.

This is a story that is founded on Indigenous mythology and epistemologies (and written by an Indigenous person); that centres characters of diverse ethnic, gender, and sexual identities; that presents a panoply of worldviews, from the selfishly parochial to the broad and holistic; and that is lush and vivid and utterly immersive. Every word, every sentence, every fantastical thread that makes up this novel is an act of subversive resistance against hegemonic, Eurocentric, and heteronormative ideals. It is an escapist dream that makes me see my own reality in different lights.

Prior to Black Sun I had read Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, which I also loved. But this book blew me far and away; this book will set the tone for a radically new imagining of the high/epic fantasy genre. The visceral first chapter of Black Sun caught my attention immediately, and I was not keen to put this book down once I’d begun. THE PACING IS IMMACULATE.

Add to that formidable world-building, engagingly ambivalent characters, and quick, captivating prose, and Roanhorse has crafted a fantasy I guarantee you’ll be thinking about for a long time. I know I certainly will.

I think the reason I took much more to this book over the last two fantasies I read—The Midnight Bargain and The Once and Future Witches, both espousing feminist themes—is because Black Sun is not a didacticism with some narrative elements thrown in. This book does not heavy-handedly hammer its messages (of diversity and inclusion, of love and loss) into the reader’s head.

Instead, it presents a multiplicity of perspectives: some narrow-minded, others holistic; some drawn to violence, others toward peace. Each character is (im)perfect in their own way.

And within these interweaving politics and perspectives, the book asserts several matriarchal societies (e.g., the island-born Teek, or the four matron-led Sky Made Clans of Tova) and characters of diverse gender and sexual identities (e.g., Xiala, who is bisexual; Iktan, who uses xe/xir pronouns; Powageh, a person of a third gender who also uses xe/xir pronouns; or Feyou, a trans character). It champions diversity by embodying diversity, in all of its ugly and uplifting forms. No one tries to be more than they are: a young Sun Priest struggling to revolutionize her tradition-bound society; a seafaring Teek captain with a penchant for drink; a boy who plays with shadows and crows, bound for an unfathomable destiny; and a young scion, bearing the bloody legacy of his clan’s oppression, grappling with decisions to maintain the peace or help violent uprising.

Bottom line: From the soaring peaks of Tova, a city built on cliffs and aeries, to the deepest pits of Coyote’s Maw—a thriving, lawless encampment of caves and crevasses—to the far-flung islands of the Teek women, from where no sailors return… This is a world I want to return to, time and again.


Also, if you read the ARC like me—or if you just have a deep-seated fetish appreciation for maps of fantasy worlds like me—here are the glorious, glorious maps for Black Sun’s world:




06/29/2020: My tbr is backlogged as heck and Black Sun’s publication isn’t until October—but you can BET I’m setting aside my other ARCs to delve into this one

I’d seriously devour Rebecca Roanhorse’s grocery lists if I had them

Huge thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for this gorgeous ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Marzuqa.
63 reviews57 followers
September 16, 2021
More like a 4.5, but everything about this book was simply stunning! Right from the cover to the writing, the story line and the world building. This was such an engaging epic fantasy story, one like I’ve never read before.
Riveting from start to finish. The multiple POVs were particularly interesting and I loved all the characters.
I’m so looking forward to seeing how this series develops, and ahh that ending.

PS: I’m never gonna be able to look at crows the same way again. If you know, you know.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,103 followers
August 4, 2020
I feel vindicated. Rebecca Roanhorse writes a fine, fine epic fantasy.

I knew she could do good UF, but we all know that epic fantasy requires a huge amount of worldbuilding to do it right. And this is evident in Black Sun. :)

One strong point: the opening worked REALLY, REALLY well for me. I haven't read such a strong start of a book in a long time. Visceral, scary, making me ask tons of questions and freaking OUT. Very good stuff.

As for the epic stuff? Gorgeous backdrop, lots of fascinating PoVs, and enough sea action to make any captain proud.

For those of you who aren't already familiar with Roanhorse, just trust me. This is an excellent example of the genre. For those of us who ARE familiar with Roanhorse, this one kicks serious butt.

Important note: There's lots of inclusiveness in this novel. The disabled, this time. I thought it was done very well. It sure as hell made him VERY interesting.

And that end?

Well... No spoilers. :) I'll definitely be looking forward to the full trilogy.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
444 reviews200 followers
January 27, 2021
This was just okay. I was so uninvested in the whole thing that when a main character says, "thank you for assuring that it was not me," I was more upset by the misuse of 'assure' (surely that should be 'ensure'?) than said character's near-exsanguination. I went into Black Sun thinking it would be an unputdownable blood bath of an epic fantasy set in a novel world; I came out of it googling, 'Is 'waterier' a word?' (Apparently it is, but I still don't like it.) And also, 'How do you pronounce xe/xir?' (The x is pronounced like a z; you're welcome.)

Black Sun was readable, but only just, and it lost out several times to more engrossing reading material (on lichens, sorry). I enjoyed Rebecca Roanhorse's urban fantasies and felt that her insider knowledge of Native reservations, culture, and mythology were their biggest strength. The fantasy pre-Columbian setting of Black Sun is intriguing but incompletely realized. The people of Tova have cacao in their purses instead of coins (question: what happens if your cacao starts growing mold?), and there's clearly been research done into Mayan culture, but none of the cultures or peoples in this book go much more than skin deep. That feeling of being fully immersed in a fantasy world, weighty with its own culture, ecology, and backstory? Yeah, not in this book.

Characters and plot are not much better. The constant switching between perspectives and multiple major characters (who do not even all meet in this first book) meant that I didn't really know or like any of the characters even after 400+ pages. They are slightly more than stereotypes - the lusty sea captain charged with delivering a very special passenger, the Chosen one, the high priest surrounded by treachery, the incidental warrior whose importance remains to be seen - but only slightly. The plot, which emerges from the convergence of several non-linear threads, starts with a bang, dithers around for a while, and then lurches back into forward motion in the final quarter. It ends on a cliffhanger, naturally.

I appreciate much of what Roanhorse attempted, including the diversity of her characters and the audacity of the setting. But I'm left with an overwhelming sensation of meh, like I was expecting a chili-laced 83% cacao hot chocolate and got Swiss Miss instead.
Profile Image for Mara.
1,637 reviews3,889 followers
August 10, 2020
This book starts with one of the most propulsive opening scenes I've ever read. From there, at least for me, it never let up and this is probably my favorite book I've read so far this year. This is high fantasy exactly the way I like: 1) character driven, 2) with political machinations, 3) in an interesting, non-basic-b****-medieval world, 4) with cool magical elements, 5) that doesn't lag & keeps me engaged throughout. I absolutely cannot wait for the rest of this trilogy and this is one of the strongest series starters I've read in a long time.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
264 reviews3,960 followers
March 5, 2023
DNF @ 50%. Not going to write a full review because I didn't read enough, but I just couldn't connect with the characters of the plot.
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books467 followers
February 6, 2022
“I am the only storm that matters now, and there is no shelter from what I bring.”

So What’s It About?

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.

What I Thought

Black Sun is an exciting, fast-paced read and I had so much fun with it. Its world is marvelous, its plot is propulsive and I really can’t wait for the next book. These positives are balanced out by a few negatives as well…and now it is time to talk about both.

To start with, I have very contrasting feelings about the characters. Xiala and Serapio are my favorites and their part of the story feels a lot stronger than the rest. The two of them have a lovely relationship, being two outsiders who are incredibly different but find a strong sense of kinship together. I really liked the scenes where Xiala tells Serapio stories and I loved his relationship with the crows and his wood carvings. Xiala is a loveable disaster and the Teek are super cool, while Serapio is an enigma with humanity hidden underneath the monstrosity of what he was shaped to be. Together they have something really beautiful together in their mutual trust and companionship.

On the other hand I really didn’t care much at all for Naranpa’s sections because she feels just so ineffective and kind of pathetic to me. She basically just gets manipulated over and over, runs from assassination attempts, moons after Iktan and makes bad decisions. The emotional beats in her story didn’t land quite right with me either – I don’t really believe that her brother would forgive her so quickly, and I didn’t really feel anything at all upon her "death." The fourth perspective character, Okoa, barely plays a role in the story at all and I got absolutely no sense of his personality. I am sure that he’ll be playing a bigger role in the future but as it stands now I don’t really know what he contributes besides the revelation that his mother was murdered.

My next quibble has more to do with Roanhorse's editor than the author herself. The first third of the book is somewhat poorly-edited with run-ons and incorrect tenses and one monstrosity of a sentence that I don't think should have gotten past an editor:

“Not only because the riders of the great Sky Made clans’ beasts were lords even among the scions and specially chosen from their clans to train for years before they were allowed mounts, but also because by the time Naranpa did leave her home and move to Otsa to become not just a servant, although she had been that, and not just a dedicant, although she was that, too, but the Sun Priest, its highest honor…by that time, her older brother was dead and her younger brother dead in spirit.”

I’d also mention that there is a piece of really important exposition about the God War at the end of the book, and it felt to me like it was rather awkwardly added at the end and should have been made clearer earlier and more gracefully incorporated throughout the story instead of being mentioned only when it was convenient.

For some reason I'm genuinely terrible at picking up on pacing issues on my own, but when I posted this review on Reddit a couple of commenters pointed out that this book feels like an incomplete story waiting for another part. I can definitely see that now that I look back.

Besides Serapio and Xiala shining as characters, the other star of the book is the pre-colonial-American -inspired secondary setting itself, with is fantastically evoked and incredibly refreshing. In her afterward Roanhorse talks about the way that indigenous cultures are often assumed to be static and primitive in the colonizer's view and telling of history. This book isn’t just a refutation of that idea – it’s a celebration of pretty much everything complex and beautiful about about cultures and histories and people that have been systemically derided, attacked and erased for centuries. I love that this book is a reclamation and a re-invention in that regard. One of my favorite aspects of this is the inclusion of nonbinary gender identities and non-heterosexual sexualities, touching on the way that indigenous ways of being with gender and sexuality are often different and varied from Western ways of being when not leashed by colonial imposition. I’d seen comments about one of the nonbinary characters, Iktan, being misgendered at the end of the book, but I saw a tweet by Roanhorse about this that implied that someone is in xir place during the massacre, and that there are clues as to who is impersonating Iktan. I’ll admit that that went over my head entirely and I’d love it if anyone could mention those clues to me, and who you think was in xir place.

There are touches of meditation on vengeance and faith and loneliness and throughout all of it Black Sun remains compulsively readable, fresh and incredibly enjoyable. As I said in the beginning, I am definitely looking forward to book two!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,882 followers
February 21, 2021

EDIT 21/02 : LAST DAY TO ENTER! I'm giving away a paperback copy of Black Sun on my blog, INTL okay!

Book really do save us, don't they? During the rough couple of days I've just been through, Black Sun's light was so striking - I'm in awe. Don't you love it when books just creep up on you without you even noticing? When the real world, that asshole, calls you back, and you suddenly realize how painful taking a break feels? Because god, my love for this book felt so sneaky.

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

Dont get me wrong - Getting captivated was so effortless : from the first line of the excellent prologue, I was in, yet I didn't know how much I had fell utterly in love before having to stop in order to grade my students papers. How I resented that.

So here are 4 reasons why you need to read Black Sun :

Read it for the A+ writing that flows so easily that you crave for more. It's so compelling and served by an excellent pacing. Just excellent. The alternative POV were frustrating at times, but successful ones usually are, aren't they? You're so engrossed in a POV that you resent leaving it... until the very next page, that is, when you're swept up in the next one already.

"Usually," Xiala said carefully, "when someone describe a man as harmless, he ends up being a villain."

Definitely read it for the fascinating characters. Every one of them is so well-rounded, jumping from the page : from Serapio, a blind man who wants to carve houses from wood for his crows (MY HEART), and oh, right, who can kill you in a blink because he's actually a god, to Naranpa, whose ascension to priest of the sun makes navigate her life a dangerous task indeed, not to mention Xiala the Teek, my favorite, a mermaid-like sailor who can sing you to submission but probably won't - I adored them all. Even secondary characters never failed to interest me. Truly an achievement.

When he spoke, his voice was a rumble, a dark beating of wings."Men die."

▪ If anything, you should read it because the world building, inspired by pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas, is nothing short of fantastic. If you're like me and have read your fair share of high fantasy novels throughout the years, you're probably sick tired of pseudo-medieval(slash)patriarchal(slash)heteronormative Europe inspired worlds. I know I am. None of that tired crap here, and as the author said in her credit notes, fantasy novels need not be set in a fake England in order to be considered epic - and thanks god for that. From the folk tales to the bustling cities, the beliefs systems and the intricate - but never boring - descriptions, the world Rebecca Roanhorse offers us is so very detailed and enthralling, you'll love it, I'm sure of it. Just know that it's very dark at times, okay? (see list of content warning at the bottom of my review)

There are only two kinds of men : ones who betray you sooner and ones ho betray you later.

- Teek saying

▪ I'm sorry but you just HAVE to read it for the queer representation - whether they're trans, non-binary or bisexual, the way characters are introduced is so very casual, it was so refreshing. Again, and I know I'm repeating myself, but I loved how effortless it felt - it just rang true.

To sum up - reading Black Sun felt like rushing behind a snowball steadily gaining momentum until the nerve-racking finale, and I can't recommend this fantastic experience enough. Brilliant, really. I know I need more.

CW :

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,219 followers
April 23, 2023
4.0 Stars
This was an immersive piece of fantasy with some wonderful diverse elements. In terms of accessibility, the worldbuilding and magic system were fairly complicated. I love that it pulled from Indiginous cultural and other non-European settings. The narrative style was very modern, making the book easy to read. I really loved both the main perspectives who were incredibly distinct voices.

I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for fantasy series that feels incredibly unique and fresh.

Disclaimer I received a copy of this book from LibroFM. Here's my referral link if you are interested in an audiobook trial: https://libro.fm/referral?rf_code=lfm....
Profile Image for Mari.
708 reviews5,595 followers
December 15, 2020

I haven't decided if this is 4 or 4.5 stars.

Why you may not like this book: This is a fantasy told in four perspectives, and one that relies more on you investing in characters than in juicy descriptions or plot details. The characters all worked for me, and it's hard for me to say why they might not work for others. However, if even just one POV doesn't land with a reader, I can see this being a lesser and imbalanced experience.

Additionally, this is a race against a clock that felt rather steady to me and then exploded at the end. I can see readers feeling like the ending was too fast. My one complaint, and the reason this isn't a perfect book, is because of the way it ends. It isn't that there is a cliffhanger, but that we reach the end with out a real sense of completion for several of the storylines. Roanhorse sets up this clock, ticks us down and then it's like okay BYE! SEE YOU NEXT TIME. I felt like it left the story arc hanging. It didn't ruin the experience by any means, but it kept this from feeling like a true 5 star book for me.

Content warnings for drug use, alcohol use, blood, self harm, mutilation, violence, murder, and suicide.

Why I loved this book: Oh man, these characters and this world. I loved it. It didn't matter what POV we were in, what part of the world, or what part of the story-- I was invested. It's an accessible, fast-paced read that feels fresh, high stakes, and totally gripping. You felt the care that went into developing all the pieces of the world.

I think Roanhorse did an excellent job selection who exactly our POV characters were, setting them up in different but complimentary walks of life while also putting them in opposition. I was rooting for them all even while I knew that I technically couldn't be.

Certainly one of my favorite fantasies of the year, and highly recommended to pretty much anyone who enjoys fantasy.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,620 followers
March 8, 2021
*Wow*, that was good. Wow.

Fantasy set in an alt-pre Columbian American world. The world building is spectacular: conveys a lot of complexity, religion, politics and culture along with a big cast so effortlessly (apparently) that the reader never wonders or falters. A terrific plot with four main strands converging to a point. And fabulous, flawed, complex characters.

It's 100k and I read it in two sittings. So good. Do not miss.
Profile Image for marta the book slayer.
427 reviews1,063 followers
February 1, 2021
"It is said that crows can remember the faces of men who hurt them and do not forgive. They will carry a grudge against their tormentor until their deaths and pass on their resentment to their children. It is how they survive.


This book was honestly earth-shattering and it’s taken me two days to try and compose my thoughts, so prepare for an excited rant review.

The story follows three characters, each with different morals, upbringing, and goals, which creates an interesting dynamic.

We’re first introduced to Serapio at age twelve. In the first chapter he loses his sight, learns the prophecy determining his fate, and is abandoned by his loving mother. He is a Carrion Crow raised in the Obregi mountains; the uncertainty of his identity results in him solely focusing in the future his mother has prepared him for.

Throughout the novel we learn of Serapio’s upbringing and the three tutors that teach him how to see without vision, fight like a spearmaiden and the truth of his destiny. Concurrently, we follow Serapio through his journey to the city of Tova due to the importance of his arrival prior to the Convergence, during which a solar eclipse occurs casting shadows in which Serapio feels he belongs.

Serapio’s storyline is by far superior to any of the other ones. Truly a character that is at home in the shadows, the more Serapio opens up, the more we learn of the history of the Carrion Crow nation and begin to piece together the importance of the Convergence. From the first page that he is introduced, he is a character you want to learn more about. It is worth mentioning that Serapio’s storyline would not have been as intriguing if it weren’t for

A daughter of the waters, who posses the power of her Song that can control people, the Teek Xiala, is a force to be reckoned with. As a feisty and independent bisexual, it is quite impossible not to be attracted to her. We don’t learn much of her past, but instead are introduced to her as she is bribed out of prison to command a ship through the rough waters of the sea to deliver a blind man to Tova, thus our two characters cross paths.

Through her conversation with Serapio, a friendship forms that tugs on my heart strings. I honestly think that Serapio’s character would not have been as strong had it not been for Xiala, and vice versa.

The unconventional choice for a Sun Priest due to her poor burning in the Maw, Naranpa tries to envision the Watchers as more progressive than before. I appreciate her determination to bring change to the conventional and traditional beliefs of the Watchers, however her character is incredibly immature. Often times, when faced with challenges undermining her authority she quickly turns to Itkan and suddenly forgets how to think for herself. As a 33 year old, you would think she has more sense and independence? She’s very clearly my least favorite character out of the three, and I would often roll my eyes when she acted immature. There was no need to have a romance storyline for her character. I don’t have much else to say. She’s one of the main reasons by rating is not a full 5 stars.

Read it because
The world-building is truly next level. I understand the confusion that many readers faced in the beginning, however using the name guide at the beginning of the novel made it easier to follow along. Two out of three of the characters were complex and well developed, and I would say that’s good statistics. Naranpa’s storyline is relevant for understanding the culture and government in Tova, it’s just unfortunate she was so annoying.

I didn't give it 5 stars because of

That’s it.

Just kidding, in all honesty there were some moments where the storyline was slow and I really had to force myself to read up to my daily goal. The last ~30% of the novel definitely picked up the pace and I even shed some tears, however the last three chapters felt incredibly rushed. I think there is room for Rebecca Roanhorse to wow us in the sequel, so I have high hopes and will definitely be continuing the series.
Profile Image for Charlie Anders.
Author 151 books3,791 followers
October 23, 2020
I read this book last week, and I'm still thinking about it a lot. Roanhorse already blew my mind with Trail of Lightning, but this feels like an even richer world and an even more fascinating group of characters. The way she jumps around in time, and everything comes together in a beautifully intense crescendo, feels like the best high-wire act. The world, with all of its different cultures and religions, drawn from the pre-Columbian Americas, feels so vividly drawn and keenly observed and I could totally imagine visiting and hanging out. Xiala is my new favorite badass, and her relationship with Serapio is just beautifully drawn and so perfect. I literally cannot wait for the next volume in this trilogy to come out!
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