This book is a sure bet for lovers of epic fantasy with thorough world-building. It takes its time getting where it's going, but the time isn't wasted. Due to my fits and spurts reading schedule I generally prefer stories that move a little faster, but although it took me a while to get settled into this one, the writing itself was so smooth that I didn't get tired of it. There are quite a few characters and a really big world to integrate into, and if that's your thing, you should definitely pick up Black Sea Gods: Chronicles of Fu Xi. If that's not your thing, at least read the last paragraph of this really long review for some of the messages in this book. It's good stuff.
I had a hard time relating to the characters for a while because they are so foreign to me, and honestly it wasn’t until I started getting the story from Fu Xi's perspective that I became truly engrossed, but although I didn't relate to them, I did like them. That's important to me, and it turns out that it was important to the story--for the characters to be likable, I mean. I got to know and enjoy them as I journeyed with them, to the point that by the end of the book I truly felt connected, and that's all a girl can ask.
Some who read this book will soon begin to pick up on the big picture of what's going on, at least I suspected that I did, and I was right. That's not to say the story is predictable, far from it, but there is an element of it that cleverly weaves throughout and is explained at the end. I so just want to say what it is, but that would ruin everything. I'll just say it's cool. I didn't exactly like the ending, but I can't say why or it will totally spoil, and my unhappiness wasn't a fault, it was intentional.
Language: Clean so far as I remember.
Sexual Content: Nothing graphic, but a lot of it is…non-consensual. For this and other reasons, I recommend for older teens and up.
Violence: Yes, it's a violent world, but for the most part it isn't explicitly depicted. Still, not for young readers.
Diversity: Well, yes and no. The main group of characters, the Lo, are all fair-skinned, but they interact and join up with others who are more tan. And I always picture Fu Xi and his people as being a non-specific ancient Asian. Many things about him and his people had a Asian vibe to me. For all I know, it was based off a specific ancient culture, but of course since this is a fantasy world it wasn't spoken of. (Unless it was and I just didn't 'get' it. I don't know much about ancient Asia, so if there were references, I would have missed them.)
Overall Message/Plot: As far as I kept track, everything fit together well. It wasn't exactly a satisfying ending, but it did wrap up and set the stage for the next book. There were definitely messages in the book, and I'll share a couple that really struck me.
First, that living with love, contentment, and courage is what counts. The Lo really aim for this, and it's their salvation.
Second, there was a profound moment when the Lo were immersed in another culture, and they saw the way the un-parented children ran around stealing and begging, and the Lo wondered what kind of people could allow their children to live like that. Not their own offspring, mind you, but their country's children. This really resonated with me because in our country I so often see an attitude in others, an attitude that says 'Other people's children aren't my problem, and I shouldn't be paying to educate them, and I shouldn't be obliged to help feed them, and they should just work harder.' They ARE our children, we're in this together and what's good for their future is good for mine, since we're going to be sharing that future. People mourn the passing of community and the traditional family, but often don't really want to be part of creating that community in our world because it involves giving up a bit of what's 'ours'. And then they go on to talk about how it's all God's anyway, and they know we can't hold on to it… OK, rant over.
Third, be careful who you put your faith in. In this case it was lower 'deity', but in our case it might be politicians, religious leaders, or our inaccurate interpretations of God. This story illustrates well how the mighty fall, and when they do, all the crap rolls down hill.
Find it here.