Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky)Review
by Rebecca Roanhorse
A forgotten god returns on the day of an eclipse to punish the enemies of his clan.
I will mention that I am feeling extra critical and biased, because I am writing a novel with a similar concept to Black Sun. Also, this is a multi-POV book, and I prefer books with less POV characters.
The story has lore tidbits at the beginning of each chapter. The first one, attributed to a fictional The Florentine Codex, is intriguing and beautiful. The world-building is weighty and has been thought out extensively.
“Dangerous,” Serapio said, instinctively.
“Powerful,” Powageh added, voice soft. “Too powerful for humans. Best we stick to sacrificing people the old ways, with wars and famine and despot rulers.” Xir voice was thick with bitterness.
Unfortunately, I skipped a lot of passages. I was disappointed with the amount of exposition. The exposition style is common among female authors, where an excessive amount of sentences are dedicated to the web of relationships between characters. When I’m at a cocktail party, sure I can tolerate the small talk of, “Where did you meet each other? At the grocery store? Wow that’s funny, I met them there too, what good memories!” but in book form, it comes off banal.
The banality is further exacerbated with milquetoast characters. There are 4 POV characters from different echelons of society, and with each POV shift, I’m introduced to yet another social hierarchy and set of etiquette. What makes the characters boring is that they all have the same tendency among them: every single character is introduced as having niceness as their main trait. The high priest who is understanding and compassionate about the oppressed minorities’ plight, even after she’s almost assassinated by an extremist from said minority group. The scrappy love interest, a sailor woman, who is always misunderstood and demeaned but tries to save her crew from drowning. A warrior who is best buds with his giant flying crow. A traumatized man who also loves crows and his motivation in life is to… protect his crow friends? Then he kills everyone except the love interest.
There isn’t a clear antagonist, not even a struggle of Man vs. Self. If there was any moral struggle, I must’ve missed it from skipping pages, or it was not conveyed well. There is no theme either, unless “trust and be nice to people because life sucks” is supposed to be the theme?
The prose is decent, but structural issues made the plot weaker than expected. Black Sun is supposed to be the first of a trilogy, so a book that’s entirely setup is disappointing. If you don’t mind a longer payoff and you enjoy world-building and the type of exposition that I mentioned, maybe you’ll get more out of the book than I did.
Word Count: 110742
Average Readability (US Grade Level): 6.63
Percent dialogue: 19.31%