SunboltHeadshot of Intisar Khanani

Here’s our spoiler-free review of Sunbolt. Get your copy here and then join us in the F-BOM forums. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt

Not offensive. While women characters do make decisions readers might not agree with, and while violence is part and parcel of life in Karolene, the treatment of the women characters is not offensive. Violence is treated with the gravity it deserves.

Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts

Sunbolt and the accompanying Shadow Thief are told through the eyes of Hitomi. Hitomi is a young girl living under the radar in the city of Karolene because she’s an untrained magic user. She’s also a foreigner in Karolene, and with no family to speak of has fallen in with the underground resistance movement.

In her adventures, Hitomi runs into several other women, all with different personalities, roles, and motivations. I don’t want to name too many and give away plot points, but suffice to say these motivations shape Sunbolt, and therefore Hitomi.

Hitomi might feel in over her head a lot of the time, but she’s always up for a challenge. The first person point of view really connects you to her trials, her desire to do good, and her unfailing, unflinching, never-give-up attitude.

Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 3/3 pts

Yes. Hitomi’s conversations with a master mage and with the daughter of a duke pass the Bechdel-Wallace test. The book also passes a racial representation test. LGBT characters are not specified.

Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts & Above and Beyond General Media = 5/5 pts

Intisar Khanani’s strength is worldbuilding. Sunbolt takes place in the Eleven Kingdoms. Each kingdom is influenced by cultures from our world. Khanani explains that though she is a person of color, she first wrote in the “standard” Western fantasy world. Wanting to change that default, she made sure the world of Sunbolt reflected the diversity in ours.

We applaud this dedication to representation, and how it cannot be extricated from the goal of telling a good story. How often have you put down a well-written story for saying something offensive or problematic? How long have you stuck with a lackluster TV show just because it included a character you could see yourself in?

With Sunbolt we don’t have to compromise. Khanani brought us everything we love to see: vivid women characters, fascinating worlds and a good plot. If you haven’t read her stuff yet, get Sunbolt and Shadow Thief today from our store.

Overall: 15/15 points

Her Story Arc Scale of Inclusivity image, a yellow number 15 inside of a pink Venus symbol

Get the F-BOM special edition of Sunbolt from our store!

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