Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is told through four points of view throughout the novel with some flashbacks here and there. Serapio is a member of the Carrion Crow nation who has been prepared by his mother to be the religious leader of their nation. Narampa is the Sun Priest of the Watchers and the figurehead of the dominate religious system of the land (though the other priests don’t all accept her leadership and conspire behind her back). Xiala is a ship captain and a Teek, a race of people much maligned in the world for the magic they posses. Okoa is the leader of the Carrion Crow’s military force and thrust into a conflict that he did not ask for after the death of his mother. Throughout the novel, we see Xiala transport Serapio to the capital city of Tova while Narampa and Okoa navigate tense political and religious tensions amongst the various nations.
So as you can tell from the summary, there are a ton of characters and locations that are introduced throughout this novel. The characters are great and well-developed. There are a handful of queer and non-binary characters that use non-binary pronouns. This is wonderfully presented without comment or explanation. The characters simply exist and make no plea to be accepted or understood. Very refreshing. For me, though, there were just too many characters. I felt very, very lost for the first couple of chapters. Things got better as I spent more time with the characters and locations, but it was overwhelming to start.
Roanhorse has very clearly spent time exploring and developing this world. The world-building is marvelous. The climates and geographies are varied throughout the land. There are multiple systems of religions and beliefs at play. Social dynamics between the various nationalities carry rich histories that are well explained and fit nicely with the overall plot. Everything also carries with it a distinct influence of Indigenous and First Nation cultures which was a great change of pace to the standard Medieval feel to most epic fantasies.
My biggest gripe is that this book is clearly the first in a series. There is no resolution to anything that occurs. Everything is a set up for future events. I understand that a series has to be sustained with a plot throughout each book, but some resolution would have been nice. I ended up loving the characters (especially Xiala and Serapio), so I will definitely be picking up later entries in the series.