Welcome back everyone. So happy to be reviewing a book that is likely going to be one of the best fantasy books I’ve read this year. Today is my stop on the Compulsive Readers blog tour for The Black Coast by Mike Brooks!
The Black Coast is the start of a series filled with war-dragons, armoured knights, sea-faring raiders, dangerous magic and battle scenes.
When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.
****Trigger warnings for death of a parent (s), mutilation, discussions of homophobia, incidents of homophobia, death, war and misgendering.*****
Now this book is one i was definitely looking forward to but there is no way I could have foreseen just how much I would love it. I finished this absolute tome in 2 sittings which I haven’t done in a very long time. This is a debut fantasy you can tell the author has been crafting and caring for as a book for years. The attentions to detail in the world building, the very flawed but incredible characters with a steady story are so clearly from a place of love that I can definitely say this was the most excited I felt reading a fantasy book for the last few months.
The world building is something I feel was definitely my favourite aspect of the book. So with this society and world, there are a lot of fantastical elements we don’t have such as dragons, which I wouldn’t expect to see. Yet in this world there is specific language and ways of addressing someone to not only account for their gender (if known or otherwise) but also their societal ranking. There’s also a change to the language where people address themselves to others in the third person. For example, Daimon Blackcreek one of our main points of view would describe himself to another as ‘This Lord thinks’ or ‘This Lord would have’ and the same for others in his country. It’s something so subtle with the language but is incredibly inventive! It may be a bit of a stumbling block for some readers but I personally thinks it just involves more dedication to you learning how the world works.
This story does have multiple POV as well, with a focus on a few mostly like Daimon, Saana and Tila. This is something I generally can struggle with if it’s with say more than three characters but each point of view is vital to the plot and once you realise why it definitely makes the story that bit more interesting. I found with the characters as well, the author went to a length to show them as people. For example, Daimon thinks of Saana’s people as basically Viking style savages. They don’t even use paper and they have women on equal footing with men. That being said, Saana and her people are all by a vast majority very homophobic. They don’t have the ability to even understand it beyond it being totally alien to them and a slight on their God, Father Krayk. It leads to a lot of uncomfortable situations definitely but they’re not ever easy things to discuss between people from different countries or cultures. It definitely adds a layer to their development that works very well.
There is a story here that does unravel very well with as decent pace, I only want more dragons. The dragons in this have some different species that I am a sucker for in any fantasy setting as well. There is a lot of set up for the coming books as well so there is a lot to come and I honestly welcome the next installment. This is a book I genuinely find myself loving and sad that I’m finished it. The sequel will hopefully be on the way soon.
Thank you to Compulsive Readers for having me on the tour and to them and Orbit Books for sending me a copy of the book to review. The Black Coast is out now!