Tag: readalong


Readalong – The Ninth Rain & Trail of Lightning

Posted 21 May, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 0 Comments

Text banner: Wyrd and Wonder: Celebrate the Fantastic (1-31 May) - plus a gorgeous stylised dragon glyph

Cover of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca RoanhorseTrail of Lightning:

Stakes are getting higher and seemingly more personal for Maggie as she finds more back-up in her fight that she can’t seem to simply walk away from. How do you feel about ‘found family’ stories, and do you think that’s what we’re getting here? What do you think of Grace and her family?

We find out more about Kai – specifically, that Maggie isn’t the only one with clan powers – after a particularly brutal run-in with Longarm. What’s your verdict on how Maggie handled the corrupt cop, and has your opinion of Kai changed with this reveal? If so, how?

Ma’ii’s method of transportation was an interesting one, and it raises the fact that Neizghání isn’t the only one with a ‘signature’ that involves lightning. Do you think it’s possible (or even likely) that Neizghání’s involvement in this mystery is a red herring?

What do you think we can expect from Maggie’s visit to Shalimar? Nothing but trouble, or will she get what she’s there for?

As I said last week, I’ll confess, I’ve finished the book. So I’m trying to answer this without any spoilers and with what my impressions were at the time, but I apologise if I get inadvertently spoilery!

Found family/Grace and her family:

I feel there’s not quite enough development on this to make me really feel like Maggie’s part of Grace’s family at this point. Maybe if they continue to partner up through the second book, but… actually, I’m finding that stuff like this is already fading for me. If I don’t read Storm of Locusts soon, I won’t remember who everyone is.

Kai’s clan powers:

I knew this was coming and it actually pisses me off. Any kind of mind control grosses me out, and I didn’t trust Kai from the moment I knew that’s what he was doing. I don’t think we’re meant to take such a hard line on it, but he’s been using it to manipulate Maggie, despite all his requests to be partners and for her to trust him. It’s not trust when it’s compelled.

Neizghání:

He seems like such an asshole that nothing would’ve surprised me where this came from.

Shalimar:

Ma’ii’s involvement meant much much suspicion of every aspect of his mission for Maggie, this included. He’s a Trickster. It’s not going to be what it seems, or the rug is gonna get yanked out from under you even harder because this does go to plan.


Cover of The Ninth Rain by Jen WilliamsThe Ninth Rain:

1. Vintage’s journal entries at the start of each chapter seem to be filling in more backstory for our heroine, but what do you think of this approach to providing information about her? Are these entries fascinating, or distracting?

2. More details emerge about what happened at the end of the Eighth Rain… What do you think happened to (or between?) the Jure’lia queen and Ygseril?

3. And now it seems that the god-tree still lives. Or does it? What’s your take on what Hestillion is doing, and what do you think she’s going to do with her surprise guests?

4. Make love, not war. Or, if you’re Tormalin the Oathless, do both. How do you feel about the particular mixture of Tor’s skills, and what do you make of his interactions with Noon so far?

I’ve also finished this one now, but I’ll do my best not to give any spoilers!

The excerpts:

I think they’re very cleverly done, because it’s not only a source of lore for the world, but it’s powerful characterisation for Vintage (and some of the people around her). I’ve known books where I always skipped this kind of thing, but these are interesting for being in Vintage’s voice and they provide plot-relevant information. Do not skip!

The end of the Eighth Rain:

I kind of assumed, at this point, that there was some kind of mutual destruction, or possibly just fighting each other to a standstill, and what we see is their long, long deadlock. I was biased toward mutual destruction since we hadn’t heard anything from Ygseril. (Personally, I thought the death of the Jure’lia queen was probably only a temporary setback for the Jure’lia.)

Ygseril:

I’m sceptical of anything so conveniently sudden after years without contact. Hest’s been diving deep all this time: why is she only making contact now? Something seems to be stirring, and I didn’t really believe it could be Ygseril.

Make love, not war:

I don’t think it’s that unusual; Tor’s lived a long time, and has a long time left to live. I’d be surprised if this was the full extent of his talents, too. In terms of his interactions with Noon, I thought that was a fairly obvious and conventional story with an obvious trajectory — not that I object to that.

General point:

This whole book makes me think so much of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The parasite spirits and what they do seem so like the spirits in The Spirits Within that that’s basically how I picture them, and the dream of the Jure’lia makes me think of Aki Ross’ dreams.

A still from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

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Readalong – The Ninth Rain & Trail of Lightning

Posted 12 May, 2019 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Text banner: Wyrd and Wonder: Celebrate the Fantastic (1-31 May) - plus a gorgeous stylised dragon glyph

Cover of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca RoanhorseTrail of Lightning:

– 24 hours isn’t long to forge a partnership, but it’s been eventful! Do you think Maggie and Kai make a good team? Why?
– A Trickster comes to tea! We meet our first Bik’e’áyée’ii – what do you make of Ma’ii? …and his mission?
– We learn more about Maggie’s past, and about Neizghani. Do you think she’s too hard on herself? How do you feel about Neizghani’s role in her life – and about the way he left?
– Any predictions or other observations at the half-way stage?

I’ll confess, I’ve now finished the book. I just couldn’t stop reading once I got into it — I was worried I’d forget things. So I’ll try and answer this without any spoilers and with what my impressions were at the time, but I apologise if I get inadvertently spoilery!

Maggie and Kai as a team:

I wasn’t sold on it at this point (or actually even at the end of the book). It feels like there are too many secrets, and Maggie’s holding back too much. There’s certainly potential, because she’s definitely responding to his friendly advances.

Ma’ii:

Is a trickster, so he’s playing a long game and keeping his cards close to his chest. I wouldn’t trust Coyote as far as I could throw him. It’s hard to see at that point what the trick is, but he’s Coyote; you know it’s coming.

Neizghani: 

His whole thing about evil tainting Maggie reminds me of the fact that so many abusers have themselves been abused; there’s an element of truth to it, and to the idea that if you have darkness inside you, you’ll always be fighting it. I don’t think that’s just true of Maggie, though; I don’t think she’s somehow set apart from the people around her, that the people around her are better than her. Neizghani’s oversold it.

Predictions or observations:

Would be unfair at this point, given I’ve finished the book. I’ll just observe that having finished it, I’m curious about the next book, enough that I’ve bought it… but I’m not sold on the series and this definitely isn’t going to top my Hugo ballot (though it will come ahead of Space Opera). The background is fascinating, and I enjoy the fact that it’s not your typical cookie-cutter urban fantasy. But something about the storytelling, the characters, isn’t quite working for me.


Cover of The Ninth Rain by Jen WilliamsThe Ninth Rain:

1. ‘You travel with an Eboran, and you explore the Wild, and you’re looking for things that might kill you. None of it makes sense.’ – What are your first impressions of Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon?
2. Not your traditional Elves, eh: how do you feel about Ebora and the Eborans?
3. Parasite spirits, mutant animals and really big grapes: would you live safe behind city walls, or would you make your home in the Wild?
4. In a nightmarish world, a few bad dreams are to be expected. Or are they? How much are you reading into them?

Vintage:

I love her! She knows what she wants and she’s going for it. I enjoy her scientific curiosity and her will to push on and figure things out. She’s pretty no-nonsense, and yet she has ideals as well.

Ebora:

Reminds me of Elantris, in some respects. The Carrion Wars sound awful; clearly the Eborans have committed atrocities, but just as clearly, they aren’t all bad. Human-ish, just long-lived and different, in part because you have different priorities when you live 1,000 years. In terms of specific Eborans: Tor is entertaining, but could fairly clearly be more. Hest’s fervour is… discomforting; I’ll be interested if she continues to be a quasi-sympathetic character with terrible moral boundaries.

The dangers:

Oh hell yeah I’d be in a city. I want to believe I wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the dangers, and I’d do my part to protect the city, but… nope nope nope. City for me. Of course, a parasite spirit there would wreak absolute havoc, but statistically, it seems a lot safer.

Dreams:

I’m assuming they’re prophetic, some kind of warning, or even an instinct. They could be being sent by someone as a warning, or by the Jure’lia as a threat, or maybe people are just inherently sensitive. Still, I’m fairly sure there’s a new invasion incoming — we know already that they’re cyclic — and that the dreams are significant.

…I suspect I’ll finish this one too before the next question post. Must try and keep notes!

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Readalong – Trail of Lightning

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

Text banner: Wyrd and Wonder: Celebrate the Fantastic (1-31 May) - plus a gorgeous stylised dragon glyph

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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