We are so excited to share an exclusive sneak peek at Rebecca Roanhorse’s upcoming epic fantasy, Black Sun—available on October 13, 2020 from Saga Press. Inspired by indigenous civilizations of the Americas pre-European colonization, Black Sun is an adventure mixed with prophecy and magic. In advance of publication, we’ve got the world maps included in the book so you can get to know the holy city of Tova and the Meridian landscape! Check out what author Rebecca Roanhorse had to say about it below.
I’ve had some pretty good things happen in my speculative fiction writing career, including winning awards and hitting bestseller lists, but nothing thrills quite like finding out your epic fantasy novel is going to get a map. There is something about seeing a map on the first few pages of a crisp new book that holds the same potential as waking up on Christmas morning. As a kid, a map in a book meant adventure awaited ahead. I remember the awe of getting a new novel and pouring over the maps, studying the places I knew our heroes (and villains!) would travel and trying to pronounce all those places with tiny upside down v-shaped mountain ranges and too many consonants. Maps promised adventure and escape. It was time spent with people and places that were larger than life in a magical world not my own. It was why I loved fantasy.
The world of Black Sun is called the Meridian. It is a secondary world inspired by the various and diverse pre-Columbian cultures that spanned the length and breadth of the Americas – geographically, culturally, and historically. While I didn’t try to maintain historical or cultural accuracy in an imaginary world populated by giant corvids and mermaids, I did want the world to feel something like the sources I drew inspiration from, which included the Maritime Maya, the mound builders of Cahokia, the Incans, and the ancestral Puebloans. I even drew from traditional Polynesian sailing methods for a notable sea voyage. (Did I mention mermaids?) I also made a lot of things up, as fantasy writers are wont to do. You are as likely to find megafauna and blood magic as you are merchants and priests.
[Tova] was called the Jewel of the Continent and the Holy City and the City of the Sky Made. It was a cliff city high in the clouds, the legendary birthplace of the Sky Made clans and the home of the Sun Priest and the Watchers whose duty it was to keep the calendar and wrestle order from chaos. Tova was the religious heart of the Meridian continent, just as Cuecola was its commercial capital and Hokaia its military center.
The heart of the Meridian is the city of Tova. Tova started out in my imagination as a cliff city, but as it took form, I started to imagine it most importantly as a city in the clouds, more like Machu Picchu, but with the D-shaped buildings and roundhouses of a Chaco Canyon. Tova is a city built atop great mesas connected by woven rope suspension bridges like the ones the Incans built and still ceremonially maintain at Q’eswachaka, for example.
The civic side of Tova is ruled by the Sky Made. These are four powerful matriarchal clans—Golden Eagle, Winged Serpent, Water Strider, and Carrion Crow—who keep their namesake beasts in aviaries or stables near their heart of their districts. (Yes, we’re riding giant eagles and crows. Buckle up!) But even these powerful clans bow to the order of masked astronomer priests called the Watchers. The Watchers have ruled Tova and the continent of the Meridian for hundreds of years through tradition and fear, but as the winter solstice draws near and the heavens promise a solar eclipse, there are forces at work that even the Watchers cannot hope to stand against.
There is more to discover in the pages of Black Sun. I promise you spearmaidens and assassins, shipkilling tempests and god-made storms deadlier than any weather, and all the epic adventure you expect from the promise of some very cool maps.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out fantasy cartographer extraordinaire Robert Lazzaretti who took the ramblings of my imagination and the sketches of my artistically talented twelve-year-old and made art. Thanks, Robert. You have the coolest job ever.
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.
Rebecca Roanhorse is the New York Times bestselling author of Trail of Lightning, Storm of Locusts, Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, and Race to the Sun. She has won the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards for her fiction, and was the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (formerly Campbell) Award for Best New Writer. Her forthcoming book, Black Sun, is out in October. She lives in New Mexico with her family.