The tl:dr version of this review is: I could not put it down. It was so, so good. Very much a middle book, but a very entertaining middle book.
Fevered Star starts with a murder. Far from the chaos in Tova, Lord Balam murders a thief so that he can walk through dreams. Serapio wakes up with a wound he cannot heal and uncertain of who he is now, having expected to die at the Convergence. Naranpa wakes up in a tomb, back from the dead and unsure of everything she learned while training to be the Sun Priest. Xiala is lost so far from the sea and mourning the deaths she inadvertently caused. Okoa is caught between the Crow God reborn, his sister, the new Matron of the Crow clan, and the need to avenge his mother’s murder. The sun hangs black in the sky.
In Black Sun, the political machinations were like the beat under the melody. Tova was brimming with plots between factions in the Tower and among the clans and the clanless, but it felt less important because I knew Serapio was going to turn everything on it’s head. For Naranpa, the politics were life and death and we watched her spin her wheels, frustratingly unable to get traction on her own plans. Black Sun felt fairly straightforward. The characters knew what they wanted and their objectives were clear to them, if not to us. Serapio, himself the product of decades of plotting, needed to get to Tova and to Sun Rock. Now there is a power vacuum and the people who wanted more power are using it to their own ends.
Fevered Star is more fractured and heavier on the politics. Saaya’s scheme to birth Serapio and make him the vessel of the Crow God has wreaked havoc and brought to an end a treaty which has given The Meridian 300 years of peace. Alliances are shifting. Old magics are coming back into play. Old grievances are rising to the surface. The plots we saw glimpses of are now more central, and much bigger than vengeance against the Watchers, or grabbing more power in Tova.
Roanhorse never forgets that all the plots and schemes are carried out and shaped by people, who have complicated loyalties and motivations. The heart of this book is Xiala, Serapio, Naranpa, and to a lesser degree Okoa. I found myself hurting for all of them and alternately wanting to swaddle them in soft blankets and looking forward to them unleashing their power on Lord Balam. I thought several times that in another book Serapio would be the big bad. In Roanhorse’s hands he is a very sympathetic monster, and I want him to win.
My copy of Black Sun has two maps, which I referenced constantly while reading Fevered Star. I’m including them here because I love maps. I hope Robert Lazzaretti created more maps for Fevered Star.
I received this as an advance reader copy from Tor.com and NetGalley. My opinions are my own.