Readalong – Trail of Lightning

Posted May 5, 2019 by Nicky in Reviews / 1 Comment

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First up, let’s talk about the setting/worldbuilding. What are your first impressions of where/when the story begins?

On to the cast of characters! We get a fairly no-holds-barred introduction to Maggie Hoskie, and some interesting interactions between her and other key characters (or so they seem). What do you think of her, and of Kai and Grandpa Tah?

The plot’s afoot … Perhaps just barely, but still. Any thoughts/suspicions/predictions? Or are you content to be taken along for the ride?

First impressions: I knew about the setting already, and I’ve already read on beyond the eight chapters, so the setting is pretty clear to me. We’re a few years post-inundation, caused by anthropogenic climate change, and in Dinétah, formerly the Navajo reservation. Here people survive — exclusively or at least largely Native American people — and so do their gods and legends, now walking abroad in the same world. On a scientific level, not sure if the speed of the inundation sounds right — or on a geographical/meteorological level, not sure about the fact that Dinétah is now in drought* — but we’re in a world of magic anyway, so I’m not gonna worry about that.

*It sounds ironic, but even in a world with a huge rise in water level, there can definitely be arid areas. One way would be if there’s mountains all around. Clouds would form over the water and any waterlogged land, but the clouds would get pushed up on reaching the mountains. The air at altitude is less able to hold moisture, so the water would condense as the clouds got pushed up, and rain would fall over the mountains. Get you some mountains high enough and all the rain will be lost on the water-ward side, leaving none for the land beyond the mountains, and potentially none to even run down on that side of the mountain range. Mountains on one side, long stretches of flat dry land on the other, and you can see how somewhere can end up with few clouds and little water, post-inundation. I’ve no idea if that works, geographically, because I suck at understanding maps, but I have seen a review complaining that the drought conditions in Dinétah aren’t possible post-inundation, and I think they are, so you get my thought dump about that!

Maggie Hoskie: She’s the sort of tough urban fantasy protagonist you’d expect; shades of Kate Daniels and October Daye and a dozen other leading ladies in fantasy. Oh no, she has a dark side. Oh no, she has a killing rage. It’s kind of typical — which is not necessarily a turn-off, but neither is she striking me as particularly special. Except of course in being Diné, which is pretty cool in this world of fairly homogenous white heroines, and because the story and her skills are based on Native American traditions and stories.

Kai Arviso: Has obvious secrets, probably clan-powers, or he’s not quite human. I don’t feel like we know anything about him yet, and we’re supposed to be misjudging/underestimating him, so. As a reader I find that set-up somewhat annoying and refuse to be drawn into speculating; I’ll see when it happens.

Grandpa Tah: Old man with a love of gossip and meddling, and a twinkle in his eye; also fairly non-surprising as a character type.

That sounds like I’m not enjoying it, re: the characters being fairly typical, but that’s not it. There’s plenty to enjoy about a tough bloodthirsty female protagonist, a mysterious dandy and an old man with a twinkle in his eye, it’s just not surprising. 

Thoughts/suspicions/predictions: I predict I’m… going to read ahead of the readalong, knowing myself, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep participating in the discussions sensibly and without spoilering anyone. Obviously we’re going to have more encounters with Neizghání, either actual encounters or we could just as well be strung along the whole book in his footsteps without seeing him. I think a knowledge of Diné stories and mythology might make a lot of this more obvious; makes me wonder if it’s more fun if you do know the mythology or if you don’t.

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One response to “Readalong – Trail of Lightning

  1. I see I’m not alone 🙂 My brain did the same math on the climate change and came out at the same place: because the wall of the Rockies literally rears up out of nowhere from the plains. Sure, there’s a gradual rise out of the dead flats further east, but there’s nothing to prepare you for O HAI MOUNTAINS. And that first uplift zone is huge and wide; and the uplands beyond it are really damn high. So I’m comfortable with the drought.

    I’m also with you in not finding the character archetypes surprising, necessarily although I’ve avoided urban fantasies focused on them until now – I’m only here for the world-building, really. But I WAS surprised by the end of chapter two, and that has rather reset my expectations. I’m not sure it’s made me keener – warier, really – but I’ll keep an open mind 🙂
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