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Hugh Likes Fiction: Fevered Star

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Fevered Star: Between Earth and Sky Book 2
Written by Rebecca Roanhoarse
Audiobook Read by Christian Barillas, Darrell Dennis, Cara Gee, Nicole Lewis, Shaun Taylor-Corbett
Published by Simon and Schuster, Inc
Listened to via Audible

Spoilers for Rebecca Roanhoarse’s previous novel, Black Sun. Also, I listened to the audiobook, so please forgive any misspelled names.
The sequel to 202’s Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhoarse returns to her Pre-Columbian America inspired epic fantasy world of the Meridian, expanding the focus of the story from the canyon city of Tova to encompass its neighbors, as the fallout from the first book’s climax reveals the charactersWith both the Crow God’s champion of Serapio and the Sun Priest Naranpa having unexpectedly survived, but the city itself in a shambles, the new year dawns in Tova with the sky frozen in an eclipse, as Shadow and Light struggle for dominance. While the office of the Watchers has been destroyed, the Sky-Made clans and their matrons still plot, and Serapio and Naranpa both return home to their clans and families, unsure of what to do next. But as the sorcerers who engineered Serapio’s rise plan their next move, so to do the disaffected masses of Clan Carrion Crow, and the clanless criminal underclass of Coyote’s Maw. While it is difficult to say much about the book without getting into spoilers, I really enjoyed this epic fantasy. Roanhoarse is a master of the dramatic irony and pacing that are the life’s blood of the sub-genre. The unique setting of the Meridian, with its pre-Columbian America vibes is a delight to return to. I’m glad this book gives the characters more figurative and literal room to breathe. The first book was a race towards the climax, which coincided with a solar eclipse and a big festival for the city. This book feels less like an impending crash and is a bit more quiet, as the characters recover and consider their next moves. The Sun Priest and the Crow God’s avatar spend the book circling one another, looking for advantage, or a way out.That isn’t to say this book is dull. There’s plenty of drama and action, and cool magical powers and fights. Everything that was great about the first book returns here, and is enhanced. With more cliffhangers at the end, I am fully invested in this series, and can’t wait for the next entry.The audiobook features five different narrators, each of whom brings one point-of-view character to life. I enjoy this style of narration for epic fantasy, and it works well here. The different voices highlight the different points of view of the characters to great effect. I just wish that the producer had made sure all of the readers were on the same page for pronunciations, as some of the proper names and places would shift depending on the narrator.Fevered Star is available in print, ebook, and audiobook from your local bookseller or internet-based megastore.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Black Sun

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Black Sun: Between Earth and Sky Book One
Written by Rebecca Roanhorse
Published by Saga Press

The Skinny: An epic adventure full of fascinating characters in a unique and vibrant setting.

Serapio is a god reborn. Before he was born, his mother’s people, the Crow clan, were brutally slaughtered in the city of Tova. His mother barely escaped with her life, bearing an unslakable thirst for revenge. Now, blinded and raised for a single purpose, he must make his way back to Tova and confront the Sun Priest, whose office orchestrated the genocide. But the path ahead lies through rough seas, and his only ally is a ship captain with mysterious powers who is distrusted by her own crew.Meanwhile in Tova, the newest holder of the office of Sun Priest, Naranpa, is caught in a web of political intrigue, and narrowly avoided assassination attempts. As the winter solstice and a historic eclipse approach, will there even be a city still standing when Serapio arrives?
With this this new epic fantasy series, Rebecca Roanhorse gives readers a look into a richly imagined world filled with deep and complex characters. Broadly based on Pre-Colombian cultures surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, The Meridian is a land full of mysterious magic, warriors fighting from giant crow-back, and Machiavellian ruling castes of priests and merchants. It is a very fresh take on the genre, and breathes new life into tropes so soaked in the trappings of medieval England.
But the real highlights of this compelling work are the deeply realized characters and the ratchet-tight pacing. Epic fantasy has a tendency to ramble and repeat itself, wallowing in feasts and camp tents, as heroes and heroines brood over politics. From the first page, Black Sun rushes towards the destined climax, as political machinations, ancient prophecies, and even the sky itself push the players towards their destinies as surely as Captain Xiala sings up a current. Speaking of which Xiala was my favorite character, an opportunistic and morally gray wanderer searching for a home she doesn’t know how to even ask for, let alone find. Her chemistry with Serapio was easily the most fascinating part of the book for me.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is available in print, ebook, and audiobook, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your local independent bookstore. I strongly recommend it!

Hugh Likes Fiction: Storm of Locusts

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Strom of Locusts
Written by Rebecca Roanhorse
Audiobook read by Tanis Parenteau
Published by Audible Studios

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The Skinny: Roanhorse’s second novel in her Sixth World series takes heroine Maggie outside the walls of Dinétah and into the ruins of post-apocalyptic America.

The sequel to 2018’s Trail of Lightning, this novel picks up shortly after the first, with Maggie back at home, having come to terms with her powers and her past and literally buried, it in the form of her demigod mentor, behind her. But when she discovers that her estranged partner Kai has been kidnapped, she’ll have to venture outside the walls of Dinétah to save him, and the whole nation from a doomsday prophet.
While I never wrote a full review for her first book, I greatly enjoyed it, and this is a worthy sequel. Roanhorse builds on the first book in interesting and organic ways, and she provides enough backstory for new readers to jump in without being lost or sitting through a slog of exposition. My favorite bit is the inclusion of Ben, a teenage girl with her own clan powers that relies on Maggie as a mentor. She becomes a great foil for the heroine, whose own mentorship ended so badly.
In reading the first book, I struggled with the Navajo language used in the book, as I was unfamiliar with it. I listened to Storm of Locusts as an audiobook, and the book flowed much better for me. Narrator Tanis Parenteau does a great job with the material and her performance of the characters is natural and easy to listen to.
Storm of Locusts is available in print, ebook, and audiobook. It is a cool adventure story in a brilliantly imagined and unique post-apocalypse. I highly recommend it for fans of the series and newcomers alike.