The Black Coast by Mike Brooks
Book Review | The Black Coast by Mike Brooks
A DAEMONIC WARLORD ON THE RISE.
When the citizens of Black Keep seehips on the horizon, terror takes them because they know who is coming: for generations, the keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Tjakorsha. Saddling their war dragons, Black Keep's warriors rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own land by a daemonic despot who prophesises the end of the world, the raiders 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 crossfire - if only its new mismatched society can survive.
THE START OF AN UNMISSABLE FANTASY SERIES.
The Black coast is the first book in the God - King Chronicles, and my first introduction to Mike Brooks writing.
Now, if you are used to reading Warhammer and the 40k books, Mike Brooks will be a familiar name as when I was looking at his back catalogue, he has written in this world as well as writing a number of space opera books.
However, I digress and will get back to this current story.
The Black Coast takes place in a remote village, Black Keep, in the country of Narida, a country that for decades have been plagued by raiders from across the sea.
The Black Coast is an intersting fantasy, based on the assimilation of the previously feared Raiders, the Tjakorshi, into the lands of Narida. We follow the point of view of the leader of the Black Eagle Clan, Saarna Sattistutar as she attempts to gain clemency in this strange land in which they have previously been seen as the enemy.
The other point of view is from Daimon, the adopted son of Lord Asrel, who seeing a different way to war and killing betrays tradition and family, and accepts the invaders, at the cost of depsosing his father and brother in order to maintain peace and accept the Tjakorshi into the community of Black Keep.
What follows is the tale of the trials and tribulations of two very different communities coming together to work for the greater good. However, not everyone in Black Keep is as accepting of the former enemies and they attempt to derail the alliance and the bonds that start to develop between the two cultures.
Besides these two main points of view, we have several others that take us to different parts of the world and also the wider political machinations of Mike Brook's gigantic world.Firstly, there's Tila. The sister of the God King, Natan, who is organising a move to assassinate the Splinter King, a rival and threat to her brother's claim to the throne of Narida (not a spoiler, it's in the prologue!)
And the there's Jeya, a street urchin in Kiburu ce Alaba, who struggles to make a living by stealing. However, her life becomes irrevocably changed when she steals the purse of a rich young man in the market.
In amidst this, there are a number of minor characters that provide a view to different parts of the country of Narida or adds different aspects to the story.
Mike Brooks creates a rich tapestry of cultures in the world he has created. For instance, the Tjakorshi seem to reminiscent of a norse culture, whilst the Naridans are based on feudal Japan. This makes for a diverse melting pot of culture and tradition. And then there's the Alabans, which reminds me more of an Arabian culture. Added to this, particularly in Alaban, there is the question of gender in which the society is based on a non binary culture and provides a number of pitfalls to traverse for visitors to the country.
I have to say that whilst this is my first introduction to Mike Brooks, and I found his writing to be solid and explansive. He writes rich characters, particularly Saana and Daimon, and when we went to some of the minor characters viewpoints I couldn't wait to get back to these two.
I found both cultures to be fascinating and enjoyed the descriptions of their opposing viewpoints and attitudes. For instance, the Naridans have a liberal attitude to same sex marriage, whilst the Tjakoshan's find this bewildering and against nature. It is interesting to see the attitudes of the Tjakorshan's change, and when the change comes from a source that Saana is not expecting she is forced to accept this diffenernce in culture.
Similarly, with the Naridans, who have a patriarchal society which sees women as second class citizens, Daimon has to change his attitude to fit with the Tjakorshans. I really liked this examination of socio political attitudes within the world and culture and it was a refreshing change to see these kinds of things in a fantasy series.
I liked the idea of the war dragons, although they are not exactly dragons as in the traditional fantasy sense, but based more on like giants bearded lizards and such like.
When reading the story, it is quite obvious that some of the subplots are setting up second and third books. The story of the Splinter King or the Demon Lord of the Tjakoshan's for instance, which is in the book but doesn't really have much page time. I found the character of the Golden to be a fascinating character and I wanted to see more of him but he seems to be used as a vehicle for later stories rather than being enmeshed with the current world, although the actions of the Golden do have some minor impact in the book.
Besides the rich characters and stunning world building, Mike Brooks writes some pretty good fight and battle scnenes. I have to say, that when the battle scenes do come, he writes engrossing battle scenes that get your pulse beating that little bit faster.
So, all in all, I enjoyed this book. It has well rounded believable characters, rich and deep world building and topped with a good dose of pulse pumping battle scenes