The Black Coast is the start of a series filled with war-dragons, armoured knights, sea-faring raiders, dangerous magic and battle scenes.
When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.
Mike Brooks was born in Ipswich, Suffolk and moved to Nottingham when he was 18 to go to university. He’s stayed there ever since, and now lives with his wife, two cats, two snakes and a collection of tropical fish. When not working for a homelessness charity he plays guitar and sings in a punk band, watches football (soccer), MMA and nature/science documentaries, goes walking in the Peak District or other areas of splendid scenery, and DJs wherever anyone will tolerate him.
ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.
The Black Coast is a good story about two different cultures trying their best to find peace.
I haven’t read any books by Mike Brooks before, and if I may be honest, I’ve never even heard of the name Mike Brooks before I saw the cover reveal of The Black Coast. The cover art of The Black Coast is done by an illustrator whose works I’ve followed for a long time. I was both shocked and elated when I found out that Orbit hired Finnstark to be one of their cover artists. As always, gorgeous cover art for a book by an author whose work I haven’t read was the main reason why I decided to give this a read. Okay, that and “War Dragons” on the official blurb.
To put the premise simply, The Black Coast is the first book in the God-King Chronicles series, and it revolves around two different cultures—the people of the Black Keep and the Tjakorsha—doing their best to cooperate with each other. This is a big book; it’s almost 700 pages long. Although actions and dangers are aplenty, the main theme of the story is heavily centered around finding this path to peace and cooperation between the two cultures. Both groups of people have a lot of pent up malice for each other, and the differences in culture/upbringing/languages mean the path to peace will be a difficult one.
There’s something about The Black Coast that felt genuinely refreshing and different to read. It’s not often we get to read epic fantasy books that have both main characters so focused on working things out between each other. And this doesn’t mean the narrative wasn’t imbued with tension and conflict. As I said, finding cooperation between cultures isn’t an easy task to do, especially when both groups already have their fixed perspective and pent-up hatred towards each other. This is also why I found Daimon and Saana Sattistutar to have the most compelling POV chapters to read in this book. Both of them know that to achieve this state of peace between each other, a relatively monumental task has to be constantly repeated.
The world-building was great; the importance of genders, cultures, identities, and languages was well fleshed out. Brooks’s writing was accessible and his characterizations for Daimon and Saana were incredible. Honestly speaking, the only reason this book didn’t receive a higher rating from me was that I couldn’t find myself compelled with all the other POV characters besides Daimon and Saana. There were more than 5 POV characters, but for more than half of the length of this book, all the other POV characters other than Daimon and Saana felt more like they’re preparations for future books of the series. Fortunately, Daimon and Saana shared the most pages compared to anyone else in the book.
I do believe that The Black Coast will be a book well-loved by many fantasy readers next year. A few reviewers I know have been super head over heels over this book, and I’m quite sure that I most likely will be in the minority with my rating. I gave this a rating of 2.5/5 stars. If I had found myself invested with all the other characters besides the two main POVs, I’m sure I would’ve loved it even more.
Official release date: 25th February 2021 (UK) and 16th February 2021 (US)
Aright. Okay. I’m gonna be up front from the start and say that I fucking loved this book.
What we have here is basically an epic fantasy that involves two cultures coming together in a way that strives to make both better. A Tjakorshi clan has arrived at the Black Keep not to raid, as they may have done in the past, but to settle. Not everyone is thrilled with this idea, of course, but important figures from sides work with each other to find a common ground.
The Black Coast is the book that I didn’t know I needed. Not only do we have decent people working towards something better, but there’s so many little nuances about what that work involves that really spoke to me. This can involve sons speaking out against powerful and violent fathers. Or ordinary people calling out bullshit within their own cultures — misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia — even when the consequences for speaking out might be dire.
It’s these numerous little things that make The Black Coast seem more real, and its message seem more powerful. It doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. It doesn’t absolve anyone of responsibility for their horrible beliefs or behaviours, and doesn’t paint any one person or any culture as without flaws. This book does the work, leading to more natural and rewarding character growth as a result.
There are a few POV characters, but two of these share the majority of the page-time. There is Daimon Blackcreek, adopted son of Lord Asrel Blackcreek, who is forced in the first few chapters to challenge his father and brother in order to do what he thinks is right. Then there is Saana Sattistutuar, head of the Tjakorshi clan that has been forced to flee their homeland in the face of a seemingly-immortal daemonic tyrant. Both have their own people to speak for. Both have their own internal and familial struggles, and their own ingrained prejudices.
There is also Tila, sister to the god-king, and Jeya, a young thief. Their chapters are more sporadic, seeming to set up the foundations for story arcs that may come in later books in the series.
The language of this book also deserves a shout-out. The prose is fairly clear and accessible, but Brooks does some very clever things with the dialogue that I feel deserve praise. Much like some real-world languages, the languages spoken by the characters in this book require some sense of identity. Rather than a simple “I” or “you”, the characters can communicate their stature or their gender, depending on the language they speak.
For example, a Naridian may refer to themselves as “this man/woman”, “this servant”, “this lord”, etc, depending on who they are speaking to. The Alaban language, on the other hand, has the capacity for five or six genders — high and low masculine/feminine, neutral, and agender — which is represented by diacritics on the vowels of their pronouns. This can take a little while to get used to. Naridian, for example, can seem excessively formal at first. But I really appreciated how cultural differences were represented by differences in language. Brooks takes advantages of this on numerous occasions, allowing for the quirks of his languages to serve as a source of conflict or to indicate bigotry.
I’ve said it before, but I loved this book. It was wonderful to read about flawed people challenging themselves, making each other better, and working towards something great. It was exciting to read about armoured warriors riding into battle on the back of dragons. The Black Coast offers everything that a fantasy novel could offer.
This is the first instalment in The God-King Chronicles.
The people of Black Keep stand in fear and awe at the number of ships approaching their shores. The clanspeople of Tjakorsha have long been their fearsome enemies and have continually raided their borders, but never with a high a number of ships as what they now approach with.
When they land, Saana, their female leader reveals they are arriving in peace and with a plea. She wants a new home for her people and is willing to ally with the Black Keep to do so. If they fail to agree she will use their vast numbers to force their way into this new kingdom, however. These two groups of people become forced into close confines and must learn to either accept their differences or die defending them.
I immediately fell in love with this story! Each part of the book opened with an extract from a fictional text that revealed different cultures and customs prevalent in this kingdom. I was especially interested in how they viewed people as containing six genders and how they altered between them fluidly and when in different social situations. I loved this progressive and different view of gender that was delivered.
In other areas the people of this land were not so innovative. There was an accepted belief in men as the strongest and most capable sex, even when it was proven, time and time again, that this was not always the case. Most individuals did not actually agree in it and yet continued to allow for tradition to dictate who became heirs, inheritors, and leaders.
The new people to their land allowed women to lead them without discrimination but held their own prejudices in the form of m/m or f/f relationships. It was often hard to read characters who were so immediately beloved to me succumb to such prejudiced thinking. Thankfully, as the two cultures intermingled the more abhorrent beliefs were continually challenged and called out.
The multiple POVs allowed the reader an insight to each side of the two groups now sharing land. Daimon was the leader of his people and Saana was the leader of hers. Their cultures intermingled, beliefs collided, and I was absorbed in witnessing them discover the new way to live their lives.
Other storylines were also simultaneously delivered and I was just as impressed with and intrigued by these. I loved seeing them slowly build to have more bearing on the main focus and am eager to see how all the groundwork laid here will be built upon in the sequel.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Mike Brooked, and the publisher, Orbit, for this opportunity.
When a story ends with a great battle, I'm sometimes left with an hollow feeling. While it's fulfilling to read a climactic payoff after so long a buildup,, I find myself wishing to know what happens after the battle. How is the new government going to rule? What is the temperment of the people? Can two hated countries put long-ingrained differences aside to work towards peace? The aftermath of these battles are rife with interesting storylines, and I would love to read more about the difficulties of shfiting cultural alliances.
The Black Coast skips directly to this period of aftermath. One kingdom is divided by religion, highlighted by vastly different cultural values, langauge honorifics, and societal norms, A group of foreigners--one-time raiders and generational enemies--now wish to live among these kingdoms as peaceful settlers. This melting pot has a lot of spice. Yet the POVs from each side show that they're trying to do what's best for their own people, and many cannot be faulted for being fearful, or angry, or reactionary. It's compelling stuff.
The story's threads weave a bigger and bigger tapestry throughout the book as it covers all the major beats of what makes a memorable epic fantasy story. There are high levels of adventure, love, danger, politics, and so forth, but the consistent focus on humanity's struggle to survive together in an increasingly uncomfortable atmosphere was the book's biggest draw.
An easy recommendation for a brilliant and thoughtful start to what promises to be a watershed epic fantasy series. I loved it.
I picked this up kind of on a whim after seeing it a few times on Twitter and liking the cover and the sound of it. I didn’t really know anything about it and that was great as I just went in hoping for a good time and I was drawn deeper and deeper into the world and the culture clash and blend. This is a great example of the sort of fantasy I’m seeking out more and happy to see, there’s big epic worlds and lots of characters, but there’s also a diverse range and people, cultures, beliefs and ways of life represented. There is LGBTQ+ rep here which I liked seeing a lot, and there is some scorn and hate that is firmly dealt with by the author in a way I liked. The ‘rulers’ or ‘chiefs’ of this world aren’t infallible but they are also not just stupid. A lot of the time I feel like leaders in fantasy make bad decisions for the drama it will cause in the plot but here I felt like although not every decision was instantly the right one, all the leaders learned that they sometimes needed to think differently or act in new ways to look out for their people the best they can. I really appreciate seeing people grow and develop and understand their failings as it is so much more realistic. There’s also a lot of emphasis on the ability to choose whether to reveal the gender you relate to or not in some of the cultures and I liked this too.
What is this about though? We follow two cultures for the most part, with some side characters from further afield nipping in and out of the plot too. Our two major players are the Tjakorsha clans people and the Naridan’s of the Black Coast. For generations the clans people have raided Black Keep, but we see here a new venture when the chief of the clans people tries to land a fleet and settle with the Naridan’s, after fleeing their own home. This is completely unheard of and a big culture shock to both sides, but we follow it through the eyes of Daiman (a son of the Thane), and Sanaa (chief of the clans people). We also follow Zhanna who is Saana’s daughter.
The Naridan’s have dragons in their land whilst the clans people know the seas and are fearsome. However, they have a lot to learn about their new neighbours and the book focuses largely on how the leaders can forge the way for their people peacefully. The story has its dramas with various schisms and troubles cropping up from their gods and their beliefs to their views on day to day living. However, it’s how they navigate through these that I came to really enjoy.
There is another plot which follows a thief and the young noble that she tries to steal from. This plot felt interesting but very sidelined for most of the book and I wonder how this will come back in the next one.
There’s also the reborn king rumours lurking in the distance and this seems like it’s a set up for bigger things to come.
I found that the idea of this world and people was fascinating and I just got hooked straight away. The one niggle I have with the book is that the way of speaking “s‘man hopes he will be able to” “this man believes it to be true” etc for the Naridan’s was a bit annoying at first and took some getting used to. The audio helped me with this I think as reading it I think would have irritated me.
Overall, a surprise which I really enjoyed and I’m excited to get to the next one soon and follow where the story is going. 4.5*s from me for this one :)
Why aren't more people talking about this absolute gem of a novel?
Black Keep is a remote outpost of the country of Narida, a feudal country ruled by a class of dragon-riding knights. Black Keep is regularly raided by long ships from the Tjakorsha islands. So when the plague-decimated Black Keep is approached by 17 ships at once, several times the normal raiding force, the ruling family of dragon-knights think they're set to die in a futile defense of their home.
But the Brown Eagle clan haven't come to raid; they've fled a terrible force rising in their homelands and have come to settle instead. Horrible conflict looms, only averted by the actions of the clan chief Saana Sattistutar and Daimon Blackcreek, the adopted son of the Black Keep thane.
Black Keep becomes a social experiment on the knife edge of violent conflict as the two peoples with different languages, customs, religions and ways of life have to integrate. And all under the time pressure of the rulers of Narida finding out about what's happening in the outpost, and possibly coming in to slaughter the Brown Eagle clan as invaders and the people of Black Keep as traitors.
And the world outside is not sitting still: Narida itself is unstable with questions about the royal lineage and a current god-king that is unlikely to provide an heir and the draug that has conquered Tjakorsha has sent a force to chase down the Brown Eagle clan.
The elements of the story outside of Black Keep will obviously pay off in the next volume, but what's set here, predominantly between Daimon and Saana's peoples is compelling. There are conflicts at nearly every point, some from previous raiding, but most just from misunderstandings between two very different cultures (one tribal and one feudal).
Another really clever aspect of this is the dragons. You can imagine them as fantasy dragons, but they're actually described pretty clearly as dinosaurs. The dragon-knights are clearly riding something akin to triceratops, the wild dragons that are predators in the forest are fairly clearly some sort of raptor and the Krayk in the sea sound a lot like mosasaurs to me. The world-building around the presence of these creatures is fascinating, as is the world-building in general.
Here are a few things you can expect from this book…
Fantastic world building; A solid foundational book to start a series; LGBTQ+ rep; Political intrigue; and Epic battles.
On to the full review…
The Black Coast first appeared on my radar when I was browsing through NetGalley, and if I am being honest, I probably would have kept on scrolling if I hadn’t loved the cover. It is amazing what a good book cover can do.
So, as you do I checked out the Goodreads page. The book sounded a little different but definitely intriguing and it had a few good reviews already attached to it so I decided to request it from NetGalley. I am happy to say that I am glad I did. While, I only rated this with three stars on Goodreads it was still a good solid read and a series I will continue.
This book was an interesting one, namely due to its focus on finding a peaceful resolution when war is the usual choice in such books. I honestly think this is what gave this read such a refreshing feel to it. Brooks still managed to create enough tension and hostility in his writing without it being outright war between these peoples.
I am not usually one to sing and dance about a books world building, I always appreciate it and will openly praise it, but as a reader I don’t need too much of it. I am the kind of reader that needs a little here and there and a good few distinctive features thrown in to the mix, then I can let my imagination run wild from there. However, saying this I was continually wowed by Brooks’ ability to build such a seamless world, and yet have so many different cultures woven into it. Brooks managed to throw these people together and create a believable environment, one in which some preferred certain elements of the others way of life and vice versa. Which as you can imagine was a great way to create tension between several character in a authentic and exciting way.
Brooks’ writing was easy to read and despite the level of detail found in its genders, cultures and languages it was still accessible and enjoyable. It is not easy to introduce such a new and detailed world and it not feel to the reader like you a trudging through mud to understand it, but this was not the case for this. It was easy to follow and you understand each cultures way of life quickly.
Brooks also deserves much praise for his dialogue in this book. I laughed, I frowned and I scowled. No word is wasted here, and all of it seems to go that few steps further to showing you who the characters are.
In terms of the characters I found myself enjoying certain ones over others and I found myself wanting to get back to their POV’s more often than not. I felt at times there was quite a disparity between several of the characters we meet, some were a lot more fleshed out than others which led to me not really connecting with some of them. I think we will definitely see more of them in the future books and learn more from them but in this instalment many fell into the background for me.
However, those that seemed to fall into the background a little were ones which seemed to be crucial to the beginnings of future plots. Those relevant to the main plot were utterly brilliant.
I enjoyed this book and the audiobook is great! While I had a few issues with the characters I am excited to see those that fell into the background grow and become more crucial to the plot. This book is definitely a foundational book and brings with it some of the flaws of focusing on preparing for the overall series but in the same breath has me so excited for the next book.
I believe that this will be a brilliant series, and once we get to know all the character to the level we have reached with some of them in this instalment, it is going to be magical.
BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE
This is a book I would currently rank at BUY THE PAPERBACK, or audiobook with a credit. I was honestly going to rate this as a BUY THE EBOOK but then I remembered how much I liked listening to it via audiobook and if I am spending £7.00 on it via a credit then I would also spend that on the PB!
The Black Coast was a solid foundation to a series and one I will continue to read, I feel like this will be ranked higher when I have read more of the series because there is SO much potential here!
What a rollercoaster. I am EXHAUSTED in the best possible way and full of FEELINGS and a fair few THOUGHTS and many more ALL CAPS.
You want to read this book. It has a knife-throwing princess secretly running a patriarchy, and honourable young men caught between duty and pragmatism, and a fierce warrior chief and her dragon taming daughter trying to do a peace, and frigging dinosaurs (don’t @ me, that dragon’s a velociraptor), and a society with 5 genders where mine is none of your fucking business, and while the narrative is familiar epic fantasy tropes it is coming for epic fantasy social expectations because it has had enough of that shit. The god-kings, demon possession, and street rats saving hidden heirs? Basically subplots (although I assume they'll be highly relevant in future, they just weren't as interesting as the social fantasy in full bloom) .
This book has three headlines – war dragons, fearsome raiders, and a demonic warlord on the rise, and the synopsis talks of raiders looking for a new home, while knights saddle their war dragons to defend their land.
It would be so easy to have this be a story of raiders looking to settle by taking the land by force, and there being an ongoing war between them and the defending knights.
Instead, what we get is two very different cultures coming together, despite the language barrier, and forging a new alliance.
This is really interesting as the two societies have been at war for generations. There’s distrust, there’s anger, there’s betrayal, and it’s all really compelling.
The characters, in particular the central two who are trying to make this new arrangement work, are very interesting, and they’re elevated by their interaction with each other.
The worldbuilding is really good, I like how we see a fair bit, even if the main story is focused on one small piece of land. We also learn quite a bit about the customs of the two peoples and that was one of the real joys of this book.
We learn a bit about the war dragons and they add an interesting aspect, although they’re not used as much as I might have liked them to be. They’re also wingless, so we’re talking big muscular beasts lumbering through the trees, rather than dragons attacking from the air.
One of the key things that really stands out though is the language itself, where the dragon-riders of our two cultures have no linguistic concept of the word “I”. They refer to themselves as “this man”, “this woman”, “this lord” etc. and the choice of reference is very important in terms of the social standing of the individual and how they wish to portray themselves in the context of what’s being said.
I felt that this was perhaps a brave decision, but one that works for the setting and it wasn’t intrusive at all once I got used to it.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Black Coast and I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.
This book is SO GOOD. Brooks uses three distinct societies to demonstrate how those seemingly diametrically opposed to each other can reconcile differences if the proper effort is put forth. We follow an adopted son of a lord, a raider chief, a god-king’s sister, and a street-smart thief as they navigate a world that pushes them out of their comfort zones. Throw in a world populated by dragons reminiscent of How to Train your Dragon, and fantastically written battle scenes, and this book was just a joy to consume.
Outside of this main theme of intercultural connection, the political machinations and moving pieces put in place for book two have me so excited to continue this series!
The finale of this book was a little too perfectly tied up for my taste, but that one flaw wasn’t enough to take away from the other 600 pages of pure enjoyment I got from this book. I will now make it my mission to have as many people read this as possible.
eARC received from Little, Brown Book Group UK, thank you. All opinions are my own.
Read it if you like: The Ruin of Kings, The Priory of the Orange Tree, Brandon Sanderson. Also - be prepared for gore.
A strong new voice in fantasy with a totally immersive world, epic characters and unforgettable narratives.
ELLO WHATS THIS: Black Keep has feared the raiders for generations and when they see their ships on the horizon they fear the day has come when they will die. But the Tjakorsha only want to settle, driven out of their land by a demonic despot, they have no choice. Can this new society survive with its new merged fragile community?
The flow and pace of this book was amazing, I loved this inventive , fleshed out world. The research was done on this one folks. There was really something fresh about this style and world. I loved how the gender in this world was represented, everything about this book just made sense.
I think if you dislike multiple POV’s you won’t like this, it has 5 in total. The main ones were really Saana and Daimon though.
WHY 3 STARS ONLY THO: If you are wondering why it doesn’t have a higher rating from me, I just felt a little disconnect that changed this from a 4 to a 3 but overall this is going to be a hit with fantasy fans. I also felt the multiple POV’s were a little too much for me and the weird third party dialogue was odd but I enjoyed this fantasy very very much.
Definitely read this if you like warring clans, politics, action scenes and gore. This is really about two clans getting along in the midst of turmoil. Interesting worlds, interesting characters, thank me later friends!
Rating: 3 The Black Coast by Mike Brooks Series – The God-King Chronicles 1 Publish Date: 18 February 2021 Cover Rating: 5/10 Adult – Fantasy – Epic Fantasy - Dragons
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
While this was a decent debut and had lots of things I loved, there were also things that majorly irked me. I am torn about this novel. So here be me thoughts:
Dragons: erm . . . dinosaurs! There were different kinds and I loved them.
Characters: there be some excellent people in this one. Particular fave was Saana who was fierce, awesome, a woman, and the mother of a grown daughter. There were many excellent women in this. And quite a few men too!
LGBTQ+: Same-sex relationships, 5 genders, etc. Awesome.
Negotiation: While tempers flared at times, a lot of problems were solved by talking and not fighting. Cool.
The Sea: I loved all the sections dealing with ships. Arrr!
Characters: Though I had a couple of favorites, many of them didn't grab me at all or feel realistic. This be unusual for fantasy.
POVs/Plotlines: There was a side plotline about a thief that I wasn't crazy about. It felt too YA in her chapters even if she is young. Also there were some unnecessary viewpoints and sections that could have been removed with no real change to the story.
Pace: I had trouble being excited about this throughout. It was uneven and there were times I struggled to keep going.
Bad Guys: The bad guys were very one-dimensional. As were their motivations.
Realism: I know it be fantasy but there were lots of times the plot felt too easy or unrealistic given how the world was set up. The entire ending in the Blackcreek especially.
While I am conflicted about this novel, dragons and Saana may have me picking up the next in the series. Arrr!
A slow start building into an expansive vision of a new world. However when that world encompasses a people fleeing from a demonic warlord, seeking shelter with those they've raided--well fear, unforgiveness and hate might have to give way what's necessary for the survival of two very different cultures who once were enemies. Interesting concepts but for some reason I just wasn't relating that well. I mean I'd have thought I'd be won by dragons, a demonic warlord, Knights, battles, ferocious clans people. But all I can think is early England--Vikings, the Celts, the Druids, the Romans (no dragons--unless I count St George) still it's all there--a saga in the making!
A Rebellion Solaris ARC via NetGalley (Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
This book is so WOKE that it will make you fall asleep. It feels like it was written by a 14y old for 8y olds.
It starts with excerpt from a local book which describes one of the race's languages as superb to others because you can clearly identify if the person sees you as his superior/inferior/equal. I am thinking, is author going to try to pull this off, or he just mentions it. Well he tries and how does he do it? By people referring to them as a third person, holy shit, that is innovative. So most of the conversations are something like: "this man thinks..." and there are few "your brother says..." "your lord, your servant". That's it. First I was laughing at this, then it just got boring.
But let's get to the story, shall we. Raiders come to a shore to settle in a city cause they're fleeing their homes. Try not to think why they want to settle in a city and not find empty land. The city has not enough men to defend so they let them.
This causes inevitable cultural clashes which go something like this: " you people have men fucking men and women fucking women, that's not natural!" "we're ok with it, they can even adopt babies. you live here you get to accept our rules, deal with it" "ok"
or (this time sides are reversed, the unwoken from previous example are the woken ones and the other way around) "this society is ruled by men, no women should lead" "we don't care about gender and neither should you "ok"
This would work as a short stories for 1st graders on showing them why you shouldn't judge ppl based on their gender/sexual orientation, other. Is this a children book disguised as fantasy? Definitively.
Naturally the clash of two cultures comes to both taking the best from each other and all changing for better (in a way described by conversation above) and this all happens.... IN TWO FUCKING WEEKS. I'm not even going to comment how ridiculous that is.
If you want to read a book about culture clash and questioning one's values and have IQ over 80, go read Stranger in a strange land.
Did I mention there is one nation with 6 genders? Naturally this serves no purpose to the story other than spewing a great sentence: "people think they can assume gender by looking at person" (not exact quote, but something along the lines) which made me laugh.
This is garbage on most of the fronts: story, writing style, originality. It's just cheap fishing for likes with all the woke theme, without having any substance to it
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The Black Keep ready themselves for battle which will see sure defeat at the hands of their long-term enemies, the Raiders. Instead, the clan chief comes with all her people, searching for peace as their home is ravaged by a draug - a demon king.
This follows a large cast of characters - the chief and her daughter, the second heir of BlackCreek who takes over when the Raiders arrive, a thief in the city, a Princess trying to hold her country together with two identities - one at court and one in the criminal underworld, and someone under the command of the Draug ‘Golden One’. And they were all utterly compelling, distinct, and grand. Oh, and by the way? There are dragons. War dragons, wild dragons, as well as cute baby dragons.
The Black Keep and the Raiders hate each other and must seek peace if they wish to survive. This makes for a very compelling story as there are preconceived notions, suspicions, and ideas which they must adapt to and accept.
”So it is witch until you can see the use for it?"
What I found utterly fascinating is the differences in culture and addresses. For example, in Alaba, there are five genders and six forms of address (high masculine, low masculine, agender, low feminine, high feminine, and the gender neutral formal for when you don’t know someone else’s gender, or do not wish to disclose your own), which are indicated in text form by diacritics over vowels (“yòu” or “mê”, for example). If you study languages, linguistics, or love the way authors can so cleverly build up a rich world and history, you will love this intricate attention to detail which never feels overloaded.
A lot could understand Alaban, but not the meanings behind the words: they tended to assume a certain size or body shape or societal position always correlated to a particular gender. They almost always thought Nabanda was high masculine, and even addressed him as such without permission. But that was foreigners for you. How could they think to tell someone's gender just by looking at them?
Interestingly, in the author’s note, Brooks acknowledges this book was written in angry response to the Brexit Referendum. He chose to believe cultures coming together was a good thing that could see prosperity, change, and kinship.
This deserves more recognition in the fantasy sphere! Amazing world-building; nuanced conversations about gender, identity, sexuality; genius use of language; great characters; and pirates, dragons, epic battle scenes…
I would recommend this if you liked The Ruin of Kings, A Memory Called Empire.
Compelling, influential, resonating and ground-breaking.
If you want a story that sucks you in from the very first, a story that you can’t put down, then pick up “The Black Coast” by Mike Brooks.
Firstly, I was struck with the quality of the writing after just the very first chapter. This story and the unusual/different, yet easy-to-understand way it was written, pulled me in and I didn’t want to stop reading.
As the story progressed, it reminded me of my travels and how different cultures address people of varying stature and age differently. Many Eastern cultures place great importance on this, as do one particular group in this book. By the end of the book, I could recognise at least 3 different cultures and attitudes that I recognise from around the world.
I love, love, love the way beliefs and attitudes were confronted. Some quite sensitive topics were handled extremely well, thank you to Mike Brooks for that!
I would highly recommend this book, as it has noteworthy substance and strikingly salient and significant themes that all readers ought to engage with. It is also a relatable fantasy that is a good place to start for new-to-fantasy readers. And of course, there are dragons!
- The blurb from the publisher, as they do it best -
WAR DRAGONS. FEARSOME RAIDERS. A DAEMONIC WARLORD ON THE RISE.
When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them because they know who is coming: for generations, the keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Tjakorsha. Saddling their war dragons, Black Keep's warriors rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own land by a daemonic despot who prophesises the end of the world, the raiders come in search of a new home . . .
Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the crossfire - if only its new mismatched society can survive.
THE START OF AN UNMISSABLE FANTASY SERIES.
Thank you to NetGalley & Little Brown Book Group for an advance copy.
While I did not finish this book I have a lot of thoughts on it and mostly good ones — the reason for the DNF is a product of my realizing I just don’t care enough and surgery messed up my reading.
Black Coast has a handful of really compelling characters though not all of the cast is super developed and a dynamic I loved was snuffed out pretty quick. Overall there is only one character I was really interested in personally and that isn’t enough for me.
Dragons are more like feathered dinosaurs — but still very much dragons — and I loved that. The other amazing thing about this book is the way language is handled. The author was able to effectively convey nuances within these languages and develop the characters all while using English and no meaningless-to-the-reader made up words.
As far as the plot you’re always left interested in what happens next, but the narrative appears to be needing a bit of clean up. We have a couple POVS who are two sides to the same coin and read so smooth in contrast. And then we have a couple others who have yet to feel like they fit more than halfway through. Maybe this changes by the end, but for the first half it doesn’t work.
All in all this one isn’t for me but it doesn’t read as a bad book. I just couldn’t be bothered mostly due to life circumstances. I recommend checking it out for yourself.
The Black Coast is the first in the brand new fantasy epic series, the God-King Chronicles. Instead of a novel of war or chaos, or another GoT-esque fantasy, Black Coast details the coming together of two very different cultures—enemies, even—as they try to live together in peace. It’s more of a… controlled chaos.
Saana, Chief of the Tjakorsha, has left home for the last time. Fleeing the Golden, an immortal draugr heralding the prophesied end of the world, the Brown Eagle clan arrives on Naridan shores seeking a new home—one that they will find one way or another. Daimon Blackcreek is the adopted son of the Lord of Black Keep, and when the raiders draw up on shore he fears the worst. But when the clan lays out their plea for peace he sees but two options. Either the Blackcreek’s can accept the raiders into their home and attempt to live as one, or the Brown Eagle may rebuild their home in the ashes of Daimon’s own. But his father has different ideas—and will never surrender to such savages. Leaving Daimon with one choice.
A choice that will guide him throughout the story.
Elsewhere a silent war rages between the two descendants of Nari—the God become flesh. While Tila’s brother, Natan, rules in Idramar, the Splinter King inhabits the east, living like a sideshow amongst the City of Islands. While at the moment the Splinter King offers little dissent, Tila knows that should anything happen to her brother before he produces an heir, the Splinter King will take center stage. And so she sets off on her own expedition to find this would-be King. And end him.
The characters Brooks has created have always been strong; as readers of his Keiko series will know. The characters of Black Coast exemplify this, with a few exceptions. The Lord Daimon Blackcreek is an honorable-enough man, doing everything he can to protect his people. He’s also a bit of a self-obsessed asshole, and a young and naïve one to boot. Chief Saana is the brave and innovative leader of the Tjakorsha, as such leading her people from their ancestral home to settle on the shores of their age old foes. A passionate leader, she remains quick to anger while still preaching the importance of peace. Jeya seems your prototypical urchin. Thief, ragamuffin, waif—she didn’t make a great impression at first, but upon digging into the text, the reader will learn that just like most other humans, she will fight just as hard as anyone else when the cause appeals to her. Rikkut’s a bit insane, but in a human way. Tila was the biggest letdown of the main cast. Sister to the God-King, Tila leads a double life, but nothing approaches the love that she holds for her brother. While I didn’t find her character weak, exactly, it was just hard to buy the disassociation between her two personalities.
My largest issue with this read comes very late in the book, so this makes it quite difficult to explain while still avoiding spoilers. Sufficient to say that it’s Saana, who up to this point has been a caring, doting mother, sometimes even going above and beyond the cultural norms her own tribe allows to keep her daughter, Zhanna, out of danger. While there are a number of events that prevent her from doing so throughout the book, when it’s up to Saana she will not risk the already tenuous relationship she enjoys with her daughter. That’s what makes this event so out of character; it’s the complete opposite of anything she’s done to this point—and it’s so blatant I found it a bit insulting to her character.
As for the plot, I was pretty much entranced from the beginning. Brooks has built a good one here: the blending of very different cultures clashing in obvious and unseen ways alike, several cultures with many and often fluid gender options while some are just the rigid two, a believable fantasy epic about peoples avoiding war instead of running flat into it. The main cultures and their interaction steals the show, as two particular ones take center stage—the Tjakorsha and the Naridans of Black Keep. While the Splinter King sub-plot and Jeya’s role in the City of Isles kept me more than entertained enough, the interactions between the two former enemies just wowed. I really have no notes or complaints: this was an INCREDIBLE story!
The world was large and well-built, with peoples and dragons (did I mention the DRAGONS???—multiple species of different and sometimes ridable dragons) and rumors and legends of more lurking at the map’s edges. Not only can I not wait to see more of the story, but I can’t wait to see what lies beyond the edges of the world that we’ve explored thus far.
Quick Note: The map for the ebook version I was provided was completely worthless. I was able to contact both Rebellion and Mike Brooks himself, each of which provided me a high-res version of the map and reassured me that the published version of the ebook would have a much better map.
The Black Coast is the fantastic high fantasy debut for Keiko author Mike Brooks. Telling an enthralling, action-packed, and ofttimes difficult story full of unique and human characters in a vivid, highly-detailed world. While each character had their flaws, they also had their own sets of motivations and experiences—some of which clashed over the course of the tale. For the most part each character impressed throughout, though there were a few hiccups over the course of this 700-page epic. The story of Black Coast was amazing, but its people and cultures stole the show—particularly their beliefs and interactions that swung wildly between peace and war throughout, sometimes at the drop of a hat. All in all, for a story that included dragons, witches, krakens, samurai, assassins, intrigue, plot-twists and more—the Black Coast is one book you need to make time for this year!
The Black Coast is an intersting fantasy, based on the assimilation of the previously feared Raiders, the Tjakorshi, into the lands of Narida. We follow the point of view of the leader of the Black Eagle Clan, Saarna Sattistutar as she attempts to gain clemency in this strange land in which they have previously been seen as the enemy.
The other point of view is from Daimon, the adopted son of Lord Asrel, who seeing a different way to war and killing betrays tradition and family, and accepts the invaders, at the cost of deposing his father and brother in order to maintain peace and accept the Tjakorshi into the community of Black Keep.
What follows is the tale of the trials and tribulations of two very different communities coming together to work for the greater good. However, not everyone in Black Keep is as accepting of the former enemies and they attempt to derail the alliance and the bonds that start to develop between the two cultures.
Besides these two main points of view, we have several others that take us to different parts of the world and also the wider political machinations of Mike Brook's gigantic world.Firstly, there's Tila. The sister of the God-King, Natan, who is organising a move to assassinate the Splinter King, a rival and threat to her brother's claim to the throne of Narida (not a spoiler, it's in the prologue!)
And there's Jeya, a street urchin in Kiburu ce Alaba, who struggles to make a living by stealing. However, her life becomes irrevocably changed when she steals the purse of a rich young man in the market.
In amidst this, there are a number of minor characters that provide a view to different parts of the country of Narida or adds different aspects to the story.
Mike Brooks creates a rich tapestry of cultures in the world he has created. For instance, the Tjakorshi seem to reminiscent of a Norse culture, whilst the Naridans are based on feudal Japan. This makes for a diverse melting pot of culture and tradition. And then there's the Alabans, which reminds me more of an Arabian culture. Added to this, particularly in Alaban, there is the question of gender in which the society is based on a non-binary culture and provides a number of pitfalls to traverse for visitors to the country.
I have to say that whilst this is my first introduction to Mike Brooks, and I found his writing to be solid and expansive. He writes rich characters, particularly Saana and Daimon, and when we went to some of the minor characters' viewpoints I couldn't wait to get back to these two.
I found both cultures to be fascinating and enjoyed the descriptions of their opposing viewpoints and attitudes. For instance, the Naridans have a liberal attitude to same-sex marriage, whilst the Tjakoshan's find this bewildering and against nature. It is interesting to see the attitudes of the Tjakorshan's change, and when the change comes from a source that Saana is not expecting she is forced to accept this difference in culture.
Similarly, with the Naridans, who have a patriarchal society that sees women as second class citizens, Daimon has to change his attitude to fit with the Tjakorshans. I really liked this examination of socio-political attitudes within the world and culture and it was a refreshing change to see these kinds of things in a fantasy series.
I liked the idea of the war dragons, although they are not exactly dragons as in the traditional fantasy sense, but based more on like giants bearded lizards, and such like.
When reading the story, it is quite obvious that some of the subplots are setting up second and third books. The story of the Splinter King or the Demon Lord of the Tjakoshan's for instance, which is in the book but doesn't really have much page time. I found the character of the Golden to be a fascinating character and I wanted to see more of him but he seems to be used as a vehicle for later stories rather than being enmeshed with the current world, although the actions of the Golden do have some minor impact in the book.
Besides the rich characters and stunning world-building, Mike Brooks writes some pretty good fight and battle scenes. I have to say, that when the battle scenes do come, he writes engrossing battle scenes that get your pulse beating that little bit faster.
So, all in all, I enjoyed this book. It has well rounded believable characters, rich and deep world-building, and topped with a good dose of pulse pumping battle scenes
This book didn't disappoint (also, the author did an AMA over at r/fantasy and he seems equally great). The premise is remiscient of a lot of traditional epic fantasy about a clash between cultures, and it does have a lot of those trappings (particular the war dinosaurs dragons), but it does a few things differently, which I really appreciated.
First is its treatment of said culture clash. The focus of this book is on Daimon, newly crowned leader of his community, and Saana, who has led her own people away from violence and in search of a safer place to settle. Where a lot of books would go straight for the epic battles when these two groups meet, the focus of this book is on solving problems through negotiation and communication. Daimon and Saana stand out as characters who are genuinely committed to finding a way through the impasse that befalls their respective cultural groups, and who value behaviours other than the ability to chop people's head off with a sword. Not that there isn't any fighting, but the fighting is clearly the result of characters' frustrations about not being able to communicate effectively, rather than their first strategy. It's ultimately an optimistic book about the possibilities that arise from initial conflict, which is refreshing.
Relatedly, I love how this book handles gender and sexuality. Daimon's world is a queernorm one, with a range of different pronouns that signify the spectrum of possibilities gender representation. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's inventive and honestly just really cool. On the other hand, Saana comes from a world unused to such ideas, and this book is honest in how it approaches this particular conflict - Saana's worldviews are valid in that they are formed from what she knows and the history of her society, but they are also explicitly wrong, and the text doesn't ever apologise for her in this regard. It's really compelling stuff.
There are some other characters in other parts of this world, but they are honestly the disappointing part of The Black Coast, in that they feel like bit parts who are clearly only there to set up for future books in the series, rather than being properly integrated into the main plot of this book. But, I'm looking forward to getting to know them better in the sequels.
I enjoyed this one, and I think it's a very interesting take on a classic fantasy. I liked how in this book, we're primarily focusing on how to reconcile different cultures instead of focusing purely on war and battles (though there are definitely enough action scenes and a great final battle sequence). I felt like it was a fresh take on a genre that can sometimes feel a bit samey and boring.
I also adored the dragons in this book - if you are a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon movies, I think you'll really like the dragon elements in this book. They don't play a huge role in this book, but I do hope they'll be utilized more in book 2.
All that being said, my two main gripes with the book are these:
1) While I did like how the author explored different cultures and tried to show how people with different values and traditions could find a common ground, I also felt like the execution of this felt a little shallow and perhaps at times a bit naive. I also felt like the different groups of people were initially portrayed as being unwilling to bend in their ways, but then very quickly and easily became more open-minded, when in reality, unlearning your own biases that you've spent your whole life internalizing takes a lot of time and work. Maybe I'm just a rather pessimistic and cynical person, but for me personally, while I appreciated the messaging and I liked the overall theme, I did find the execution to be a little lacklustre and unrealistic.
2) This is a multi-POV story, and while I adored our two main characters, Saana and Daimon, I honestly did not care that much for the other POVs. At best, they were just there to move the plot forward, and at worst, they completely took me out of the story and I didn't understand the point of having them there. I'm sure they'll become more important in the sequel, but this first book just didn't really do a good job of making me care about what was happening in those chapters at all.
Overall, I think this is a really solid classic fantasy book. I'd definitely recommend this to those who are perhaps tired of the same tropes and themes found in a lot of other classic fantasies. It's a fun, easy read, and I'm definitely interested in continuing on in the series.
That was very fun! I haven't read a big epic fantasy in ages and the feeling of "oho yet another character and plotline!!" was great. Many thanks to Hiu for reccing it originally way back when. Spammed him with my liveblogging :D
I received a copy of this book from #NetGalley. The review is my honest opinion.
A new fantasy series that has similarities to Game of Thrones with its world building, intricately weaves plot lines, knights, raiders and let’s not forget the war dragons!
Told from multiple points of view but mainly Daimon Blackcreek a Sar and Lord who defies his father to protect his town by welcoming a clan of raiders. Sanaa Sattistutar chief of the brown Eagle clan who along with her people is fleeing her lands and ‘The Golden’. Tila the sister of the God- King who has a secret life under an assumed name, Jeya an orphan street thief and Rikkut Fireheart who is hunting down the clan chiefs on behalf of The Golden.
As I have found with most new fantasy books, the first in a series can be confusing at times especially when there is a complex world to be described. This was no different! The first 25% I was confused that some people seemed to refer to themselves in the third person and there is different inflections used for gender representations which I’m still not sure of even though I have reached the end.
The story covers an array of topics including equality, cultural viewpoints on homosexuality and challenging expected behaviours. It is well written with a twisting and interesting plot line of which I’m sure this book is just the tip of the ice berg.
There is just enough detail to pull you in yet I still don’t feel as though I know very much about anything. I have a feeling this series is going to be epic and I’m looking forward to the next instalment!
I thought I was going to be a very interesting book
Multiple plot lines and in third person , it was ok at first then I loss touch with this complex story plot line and this is only book one
No Numbered chapters drove me nuts
We follow four different characters in a world that has really interesting politics and a threat of war .
Daemon: a lord in a northern town on the coast of this nation. i
Saana : raider chief
The raiders over the years they have come to this coastal area and raided and pillaged and murdered people. a lot of hatred and mistrust between these two groups of people!
Tila who's the sister of the god king who is the leader of this like European-esque nation and he you know he's the god king so he's supposedly descended from gods
who iS a street rat ….a thief and she ends up stealing from the Wrong target and her story kind of takes off from there
so we follow all of these characters on their different journeys in this story because Saana is coming to where damon lives and a main theme going through this book is how two completely different cultures
or two completely different Adults in very different worlds
Oh Dragons walked many strides in this Book! I liked how it started it explained the why? It has a European landscape feel in ideas & hierarchy with many personalities that it made me feel confused after reading it.or maybe uninterested !
The author has particular good writing style He's wrote a massive first book in page count, and certain readers like myself can struggle with that if there not gelling to the plot. I give this 3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Mainly laid on the idea of two clashing cultures attempting to find a common road to peace, this fantasy hits different from the usual epic fantasy objectives of absolute destruction and conquering. But nothing about this understandably more perceptive goal compromises the tension meant to keep you interested in a world filled with terrestrial dragons, subtle magic, monster threats, brave knights, and royalty with grudges since brutal assassinations and warfare tactics are evidently impacting.
The diversity in terms of linguistics, traditions, gender, and beliefs is a huge propeller of the thriller undertone of this fantasy, especially when the multiple narrators and the highly surprising manner in which dialogues were exchanged — clearly influenced by the fictional language's demand — pulls one back. Overall, a good start to the series.
↣ an early digital copy received via netgalley but review remains uninfluenced. ↢