Black Sun Light My Way by Jo Spurrier – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2014 Reading Challenge. All my 2014 AWWC reviews can be found here.

Black Sun Light My Way

Black Sun Light My Way by Jo Spurrier is the second book in the Children of the Black Sun trilogy. You can read my review of the first book, Winter Be My Shield, here.

The political and social system that was introduced in the first novel is solidly developed in this second novel. We learn a lot more about other societies, and the gradual expansion of the readers world view is handled well, with information provided at a good pace. There are nice touches which show the depth of the world building – for instance, the marital structures of a society mired in a harsh environment that incorporate multiple parters of both genders into a family unit. These elements provide some real depth to the story.

The series continues the portrayal of a hard and dangerous world, where characters aren’t trying to be too nice. Issues of torture and rape are canvassed, and Spurrier doesn’t shy away from exploring the real consequences of these actions. To that end, the character of Rasten (the main bad guy’s apprentice) is used as a vehicle. Over the course of the novel, the readers perception of Rasten transforms from a pure villain to a more complex, tragic figure who has been scarred, both physically and emotionally, by long term abuse. While his actions remain unsympathetic, he becomes more understandable.

In the first novel, I found one of the main characters (Isidro) was a little bit too understanding of other people’s points of view. A lot of interpersonal drama was resolved by him seeing things from the other point of view and then disarming the situation. While this was very sensible of him, it did sometimes feel a little too “easy” as a way of moving the plot forward. In this second novel, the character is portrayed with more issues, including bouts of severe depression. This lent a better balance to the character, and given that he features strongly it helped the balance of the book overall.

The book ended with at what seemed to be, at first blush, a surprising point. Spurrier sets up a particular “quest”, which is actually resolved by the end of this book. While reading, I kept waiting for another complication to be introduced that would delay the completion of the quest and was surprised when that complication never emerged. However in retrospect I can see that it was a necessary step to allow the characters to grow. Without it, the third book would have run the risk of being repetitive. So, when I sat back and considered the book, the confusion I felt on first reading was well and truly resolved.

Overall this is an excellent second book to a trilogy. Well worth the read, however I wouldn’t consider it a stand alone book. If you’re interested, definitely go back and start with Winter Be My Shield.

I should also mention that back in 2013, Sean Wright, leader of the intrepid Galactic Chat crew, interviewed Jo Spurrier for the podcast. That podcast can be found here.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

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