Epic fantasy in The Black Coast
The Black Coast #1 by Mike Brooks
Published March 2021, 643 pages
I admit, I started this book, got about 40-50 pages in and set it aside. It wasn't capturing me at the time and it might be because I had a couple other books going and this one needed my attention from the start. I tried again a few weeks later, devoted all my attention to it and found I was thoroughly engrossed! Proof that sometimes a good book maybe isn't a good book at the moment, but worth returning to.
This is the beginning of an epic fantasy tale and the two main characters are great - Saana, a female clan chief, and Daimon, a Lord of Black Keep. Each of these leaders head very different societies with different languages and beliefs - one primarily farmers, the other fishermen; one believes you can love whomever you want, whichever sex, the other finds that unnatural; one is set up as a feudal society with birthrights, and one is more fluid with the leader selected, etc. The tension arises when these two VERY different societies have to figure out how to live together in order to survive. I found the juxtaposition of these two opposing societies presented very well and thoroughly believable (though the resolution of some of the issues a little quick).
Along the way we're treated to a badass woman leading her clan to a new home, her daughter who becomes a dragon 'whisperer', a young lord who tries to do what's right even though it breaks every rule of his territory, dragons, battles, friendships, new loyalties, and so much more. The layers in the world building are amazing.
That being said - those names. Sheesh, what I wouldn't give for a John or Jane! :) Between all the place names and the weird people names, I truly couldn't keep up. Luckily the 3-4 main characters had somewhat easy/recognizable combinations of letters - the others....I just had to let it go and go with the flow. I have to say I don't really enjoy books where the place and people names are so difficult, especially when there's so many characters. Luckily I forged ahead on this one because it was totally worth it. (a map of the area would have been helpful at the front/back of the book)
There's also a side storyline that I found a bit confusing and didn't enjoy it when that storyline inserted itself into the main plot. I imagine it will play more of a part in the next of the series.
I definitely recommend this if you're a fantasy reader - lots of action, good world building, and some really good characters. I have high hopes for the next in the series.