2021 · Review

Review – Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

I loved Rebecca Roanhorse’s previous works including Trail of Lightning, so when this popped up on NetGalley I requested it straight away without hesitation!

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Rebellion in return for an honest review. Thank you!

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1)

by Rebecca Roanhorse

From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

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

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

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

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

  • set partly at sea
  • queerness (gender and sexuality!)
  • Xiala!

I struggled a bit in the beginning but I think I’ve found my favourite character of 2021 already and its only January! Xiala forever!

The story is told from 4 perspectives which can make it complicated but they are all very different and see the world very differently which sets them apart. I never got confused with who was narrating which to me is a big plus!

The story, in the beginning, is a bit confusing as it goes a bit back and forth but if you keep up it settles into itself nicely. I didn’t question the twists and turns as they all seemed logical and fitted into the story.

I loved how one part of the story was travelling while the other part was mostly political and behind the scenes. Maybe I’m just partial to stories set at sea…

The world-building is a bit steep in the beginning but it’s needed. There is a lot to talk about and for the first three chapters, I was confused. But as the story pulls you through it all comes clear. By 30% in I felt steady within the story and was thoroughly enjoying it.

The magic in here is based on gods though you don’t get to meet the gods or anything. It is believed here that magic and power comes from challenging gods through knowledge or gifts. This means only some people have powers and most don’t. It’s not much used. and I don’t think it’s welcomed when it’s used. Its seen as a curse for the most part unless you are a priest of some kind.

There are 4 narrators in this book: Serapio, Nara, Xiala and Okoa.

Serapio is where the story starts. He is innocent but traumatised. He had lived a life without much pleasure and love and it shows. I like this character a lot. He is made blind as a child by his mother sowing his eyelids shut but the way he “sees” the world is fascinating. I loved the way Roanhorse describes it. I remember early on how I registered that this was not some disability that would be solved by magic. The characters have grown around his blindness and embraced it. He has a stick that guides him and his senses are heightened to accommodate. Its well done (i feel, though I’m able-bodied and have good vision)

Nara is a priest in Tova which is the main city in this world. She is born poor and has miraculously made it to the top. She wasn’t to bring change but struggles to get through to the other priests. I wasn’t entirely interested in her storyline until halfway through the book. She was not my favourite character but she was ok. I believed her and her actions so she was well written.

Okoa was interesting and only introduced some way into the book. He is part of the crow clan and not someone we met until almost halfway through the book. He is an interesting character and I feel like I will like him a lot in future books. I don’ think we got enough of him in this first book for me to make up my mind. He seems like a good guy and I think he is. We’ll have to wait and see.

Xiala is someone we meet in the beginning and the first image of her is that she wakes up from a night of heavy drinking and she finds herself in jail. Then she remembers the woman she went home with only to get found by her husband and hence why she is in jail. LOL. I love that and from that moment I was routing for Xiala! She is my favourite character in 2021 already! There is little competition so far this year and I really feel she is a strong contented for the top spot of 2021 even though we are just in January.

Yup! There are characters with xe/xir pronouns and both main and side characters who are not straight 🙂

Rebecca Roanhorse’s writing is on point. I had no issues with spelling or sentence structure.

I can’t wait to see where things going in the future and I look forward to the next instalment.

Also, I’m still surprised that it’s January and I might have found my favourite character of 2021 already. I don’t think I even had a favourite in 2020 at all.

Have you read this? What did you think?

4 thoughts on “Review – Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

  1. Favorite character! Well now I’m even more excited! I’m hoping that I can get to this one in February, it really depends on how long it takes me to get through the other two print books on my TBR and if I’m feeling in the mood for it (darn my moody mood!). So glad you ended up loving this, Ivy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? its so early in the year to find a favourite character but Xiala just fits 🙂 ARGH the moods! January was dark for me too but I’m crawling out of it now and I hope your’s will lift and become lighter 🙂 Thanks Lisa!

      Liked by 1 person

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