February 21, 2021

Review: Black Sun

Black Sun Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rebecca Roanhorse is the author of the Sixth World urban fantasy series, a post-apocalyptic saga starring a Navajo monster hunter. I am a fan of that, so I thought I'd pick up this book as well, even though I'm usually not into fat epic fantasies. (I would run screaming from the Wheel of Time and most anything by Brandon Sanderson, for example.) But it sounded intriguing, with its setting of a "fictional secondary world inspired by the pre-Columbian cultures of the Americas," according to the acknowledgments. 

So I did like it, though it didn't knock my socks off. I was most impressed with the setting and worldbuilding--it's a detailed, well-thought-out world that makes sense and feels lived in, with a timeline that's easy to keep track of. (The little epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter tell the reader exactly when they are, and the sayings and quotations starting off the chapter add to the background and characterization as well.) There are four point of view characters (not a cast of thousands, thank the gods), with my favorite being Xiala, the drunken, grumpy Teek captain who is roped into sailing a stranger across the Crescent Sea in time for the Convergence and gets in way over her head. The Convergence is the central MacGuffin of the novel, a full solar eclipse where gods are reborn and priests are crowned (or slain).  There are several opposing factions, from the Sky Made in the cliffside city of Tova, to the Dry Earth (Clanless) in Tova's lower levels, to the seadwelling Teek, who turn out to be a combination of a Siren and a mermaid.  Another viewpoint character is Serapio, the Crow God reborn, who has to journey to Tova in time for the Convergence and wreak vengeance on the priesthood who slaughtered so many of his Carrion Crow clan on the Night of Knives years ago, for the sin of worshiping the old gods.

All well and good. There is four hundred pages of buildup to the Day of Convergence, and for the most part it was quite interesting. The four POV characters--Xiala, Serapio, Naranpa the Sun Priest, and Okoa, the son of the Carrion Crow Matron--are well drawn and have their own character arcs. What knocked my rating down a star is the fact that the climax of the book was too rushed and sketchy to live up to the excellent setup, and ended on a cliffhanger to boot, with the characters' fates dangling in the wind. Of course, with this being the first volume of (I believe) a trilogy, there is a lot more story to be told. But I still think each book deserves to stick the landing, whether it's part of a series or not, and this book simply didn't do that. 

I'll certainly read the next books in the series. But I wish this one had a more satisfying ending, and I hope the author does better next time. 

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