The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

War Dragons. Fearsome Raiders. A Daemonic Warlord on the Rise.

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships 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.

Large in size, and ambitious in scope, The Black Coast (book one in the God-King Chronicles) perfectly lives up to the saying, “Slow and steady wins the race”. While it did not contain as much action as I was expecting, it was still a fascinating read.

The main storyline of this book features two separate cultures trying to coexist peacefully. A clan of the Tjakorsha people have just shown up at the Black Keep. Normally, that is cause for huge concern, as the Tjakorsha are raiders. However, in this instance, something has changed: the Black Eagle Clan is hoping to settle alongside the people of the Black Keep and live peaceably. Daimon of the Black Keep goes against the wishes of his law-father to allow this, adding an extra level to this already-unique plotline. This meshing of two very separate cultures makes for an engrossing story. There is no lack of danger or action, but the main risk is with two very different cultures attempting to mesh and live side-by-side.

There is much more to The Black Coast than just a joining of two cultures, and this is where things got a little muddy for me. I wanted so much to like the other storylines, especially that of Tila, a political mastermind with a double life (which I will not spoil by discussing). Unfortunately, they failed to suck me in. While the world is huge, with unique cultures, traditions, and speech patterns, I was left feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. It was a bit much for me to keep track of, and I’m sure I missed something important. It didn’t matter in the long run, though, because the Black Keep storyline was so interesting.

The Black Coast seems to be a book that is entirely set up for the rest of the series. I was left intrigued but feeling like I was still waiting for things to start. Another book that I had a similar reaction to was The Dragonbone Chair, the first book in the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams. As with that book, I have a feeling that The Black Coast is ramping up to what will be an amazing series, one that rewards patience. Go into this book expecting a slow buildup, epic worldbuilding, and a lot to mull over.

My review was originally published in Grimdark Magazine. Find it (and more) here.

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