“The Black Coast” is a classic specimen of heroic fantasy in the best tradition of David Gemmell’s “Legend”.
I devoured Gemmell’s books in my twenties. I think I read them all. “The Black Coast” brought back the spirit and the flavour of those old fantasy masterpieces.
In this story Mike Brooks introduces us to several richly-drawn characters. My favourites are Saana (the chief of the Brown Eagle clan – Viking-like sea raiders of Tjarokorsha) and Daimon (the adopted son of the thane of Black Keep, a southern province of the kingdom of Narida). The worlds of these two leaders collide – and converge – when Saana leads her people to the shores of Narida as they flee from the bloodthirsty agents of The Golden (a demonic draug). I really appreciated the author’s novel take on gender identity in this book and loved the way Saana referred to herself as “this man” based on her interpretation of Naridan hierarchy. Saana is pure power and compassion – an ideal leader. Daimon has to make heart-wrenching choices between his kin and the survival of his people on the whole. His dilemmas are agonising, and utterly believable. There are huge depths to Daimon’s character.
The worlds/societies/cultures that clash in this book are perfectly realised: the Black Keep setting with its sars-warriors with their strict code of honour on the one hand and its relaxed and tolerant society on the other; the degenerate court of the God-King Natan and his sister’s Talia wicked manoeuvres to destroy her enemies; the hordes of raiders led by Rikkut and so on.
Apart from this being a grand and engrossing epic, it also has a wonderful message of diverse people coming together for their greater collective good.