Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun (SAGA PRESS 2020) was one of last year’s hotly anticipated releases, and I can see why. Inspired by various pre-Columbus American cultures, this epic fantasy is full strong female characters, magic, politics, and prophecies. It is the first of the Between Earth and Sky series, and Fevered Star is slated for publication on April 19, 2022. (You better believe that’s a preorder!)
Black Sun features numerous LGBTQ+ characters, and what is remarkable is how their “queerness” isn’t a plot device. Characters like The Knife, who uses the pronouns xe/xir, and the healer who was born a man but is now a woman,just are. They weave in and out of the story, their sexuality no different a descriptor than their eye color. (A quick toe-tip in history would let you know that the “sin of queerness” is a very “White Western World” construct that was a tool of colonization and Christianity, so it shouldn’t be surprising that in this world Roanhorse crafted that was inspired by pre-Columbus American cultures sexuality just is.)
The novel opens with “Today he would become a god. His mother told him so.” Serapio’s mother scars his skin with the marks of her people, feeds him poison, and sews his eyes shut. One of the last things he sees with his own eyes is the crow god eating the sun.
The opening is set ten years before the Convergence, the time when Serapio will fulfill the prophecy of his people, the Carrion Crow, during a winter solstice that will collide with the solar eclipse – when the sun will be at its weakest.
Weeks before the Convergence, Xiala is bailed out of jail following a questionable drunken sexual encounter that a woman’s husband did not approve of and made captain of the ship that will carry Serapio to Tova. Xiala is Teek, a magical daughter of the water. (Think mermaid and siren.) She senses the magic in Serapio, and the water and the sky become companions.
Meanwhile, in Tova, Naranpa, the Sun Priestess, is preparing for the winter solstice. She is a Dry Earther, and many within the Sky Made Clans do not believe she should have been made a Watcher. She is challenged by some of the other Watchers and affluent people from the Sky Made clans, Golden Eagle in particular. Her position and her very life are being threatened. After a failed assassination attempt and the death of the matron of Carrion Crow, the earth runs red.
The murderous political situation has left Tova vulnerable and ripe for Serapio to fulfill his destiny as the sky goes dark.
Black Sun is a wholly original, fantastically crafted epic that will etch itself into your skin like the haahan of the Carrion Crow.
Read this book.