So I wrote Coal because there is a huge gap of representation in the world of Fey. There is R A Salvatore’s the Dark Elf Trilogy which features a dark-skinned elf named Drizzt. Dude is cool and all, but Dark Elves in the series are considered evil, which falls into the dark skinned is bad stereotype. But here comes BR Sanders with Ariah. Ariah not only contains elves with red skin, white, skin and golden skin, it has dark-skinned elves with kinky hair. Ariah blew the whole damn door off traditional elven stories.
Ariah’s magical training has been interrupted. Forced to rely on a mentor, Dirva, who is not who he claims to be, and a teacher who is foreign and powerful, Ariah is drawn into a culture wholly different from the elven one that raised him.
As his friendship with Dirva’s brother blossoms into a surprising romance, and he slowly learns how to control the dangerous magic in his blood, life finally appears to be coming together for Ariah—but love and security are cut short by a tyrannical military empire bent on expanding its borders.
War, betrayal, passion, and confusion follow Ariah as his perilous journey leads him beyond the walls of the Empire, and into unfamiliar territory within himself. Along the way, he’ll discover just how much he’s willing to give up to find his place in the world, and he’ll learn what it means to sacrifice himself for freedom—and for love.
–I don’t know what the blurb is talking about, I just wanted to read a book with black elves–
I’m usually a don’t veer away from the plot type of fantasy reader, but I had no idea where ARIAH was going (maybe I would have if I had read the blurb), but I was never disappointed. I loved following Ariah on his journey of self-discovery. I loved seeing how he evolved from this closed-minded individual to an open and well-rounded person.
On the diversity twitter chats (I learn so much) a lot of participants want stories where being gay is just one part of a person’s character. It’s no big thing. But I’m a cis hetero black chick, so I enjoyed reading about his transformation from hetero to polyamorous, because I don’t get the chance to read many stories where the main characters have to battle with his or her sexuality. It’s not a topic discussed much in sci fi or fantasy. There really isn’t a lot of sex in Sci Fi and fantasy either so Ariah gets even more points for sexiness.
Some friends and I read the book at the same time, and we decided Ariah was more literary than fantasy. Ariah is basically a literary book with elves and a little bit of magic. But you will hear no complaints from me. Ariah is not your daddy’s fantasy.
What I liked
The dirty old lady in me liked the sex.
The little bit of magic.
The black elves.
The different societies and cultures.
What I didn’t like
Echo, the same term used over and over and over again. I had to stop reading in the middle because of it. But I picked it back up and the last 25% more than made up for the echoing.
They discussed slavery at the end. It almost made me cry.
To summarize, Sanders carved out a whole new genre all their own. Reading books like Ariah reminded how much I love diverse books.
Five Star Read