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Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)
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First Nations-Native American > Trail of Lightning Spoilers Allowed

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Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
A place to discuss the book with spoilers.


message 2: by Asaria (last edited Jul 15, 2018 02:44PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Asaria | 686 comments Sometimes, when the book is set in the world without any European elements, I ask myself one, simple question to test how integral that strangeness is to the setting. If I mentally get rid of the non-european parts, what will remain? What's the core of a story? I keep in mind that tropes are not bad, only the execution matter.

"Trail of Lightning" references plenty of Native American myths. The author has this ancestry, so no cultural approbation here. So let's do the test. Is the folklore integral part of the story? No, because it would take place as well in Norse or any other setting without a need to do too many adjusting. Why? The core of the plot, the mindset, the behaviour of heroes seems to be typical of genre fiction, at least in my experience.

On the opposite spectrum is, for example, "The year of rat" by Belarussian Olga Gromyko. The mindset of villagers, social hierarchy, customs and many other elements are so integral part of that world, making it nearly impossible to set the book in another cultural background.

But in the end, this is all about universalism vs localism and the strength of ones writing.

So what's the core of Trail of Lightning?
Protagonists:
1) The "strong", uncouth heroine with Tragic, dark past, who is no good at girl's stuff, but loves gunfighting and brawling.
2) The charmer with casanova streak and a hidden secret.
The Plot:
1) Girl meets boy.
2) A postapocalyptic world, where some people develop strange powers
3) Gods walk on the Earth.
4) Romance.
5) Squicky love triangle. In retrospect, Maggie's relationship with Kai feels like cheating.
6) Disappeared mentor.
7) Most likely later all will be about saving the world.
Not very original :) , but "Trail of Lightning" is the Rebecca Rainhorse's first book, right? It shows. I was also annoyed by frequent swearing.


Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
Maggie's past gave me pause too (and the quasi love triangle, and the lack of female characters who kick butt outside of Maggie). However, I wondered if that was part of the point because of the high rate of Native American women who are murdered, raped, victims of spousal abuse. So in the terms of the story and the character, I actually think Maggie's past works better than most. Also the book to me was about healing. I think part of Maggie's realationship with her menator was abusive, so the book is her healing. Why that needs to involve a romantic relationship with Kai is a good question.

I agree that it wasn't very original, you could see much influence from American Gods.


message 4: by Asaria (last edited Jul 15, 2018 07:34AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Asaria | 686 comments Chris wrote: "Maggie's past gave me pause too (and the quasi love triangle, and the lack of female characters who kick butt outside of Maggie). However, I wondered if that was part of the point because of the hi..."

Honestly, I have a problem with the kickass heroines in general, whose only redeeming quality is their fighting abilities. There are many different kinds of strength, so why put emphasis only on one? I think balanced heroines are better. For example, fighter Balsa from Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, woman in her 30ies, while being a bodyguard for hire, has a life outside of the job and very quickly develops motherly feelings for Chogum, her young charge. Similarly to Maggie, she has tragic past that is haunting her nights. However, in the opposite of "Trail of lightning"s heroine, she is a mature woman, who uses her experience to figure out the solution. Maggie goes with the flow.

Although the nature of the relationship between Maggie and her mentor before his disappearance isn't known nevertheless I agree with you that Neizghání is an abusive man. Until that moment, when he appeared in the arena, I was hoping for him being a father figure.

Kai almost immediately had given a vibe "I'm love interest". He was obvious final choice.


Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
The different types of strength is why I like Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series. Elena is the standard strong women type but the other women are not.


message 6: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Asaria wrote: "4) Romance.
5) Squicky love triangle. In retrospect, Maggie's relationship with Kai feels like cheating. ..."


Ick... Now I'm on the fence about this. I'm just not into love triangles.

Though I've no rush to decide whether or not to read it. It'll be a couple more months wait.


message 7: by Asaria (last edited Jul 15, 2018 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Asaria | 686 comments Melanti wrote: "Asaria wrote: "4) Romance.
5) Squicky love triangle. In retrospect, Maggie's relationship with Kai feels like cheating. ..."

Ick... Now I'm on the fence about this. I'm just not into love triangle..."

I'm not the biggest fan too.

Here it goes this way: X loves Y, who loves him back, but has conflicted feelings about Z, who in turn was grooming her for being his lover since he took her under his wings. Z is immortal, abusive jerk. I won't name who is who to not spoil the plot too much.


message 8: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Ick... I'm not much of one for romance plots to begin with but that sounds creepy.


Jalilah | 4549 comments Mod
Asaria wrote: ".Here it goes this way: X loves Y, who loves him back, but has conflicted feelings about Z, who in turn was grooming her for being his lover since he took her under his wings. Z is immortal, abusive jerk. I won't name who is who to not spoil the plot too much.."

You can write all the spoilers you want in the spoiler threads!
I have not read it yet, so should not even be here, but I just could not resist! Spoilers usually don't bother me, but still......I won't come back until I've read it!


message 10: by Asaria (last edited Jul 16, 2018 01:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Asaria | 686 comments Lila wrote: "You can write all the spoilers you want in the spoiler threads!
I have not read it yet, so should not even be here, but I just could not resist! Spoilers usually don't bother me, but still......I won't come back until I've read it! "


That's precisely why I've tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum. Clues for the identities of X, Y, Z can be found here, though.


❄Elsa Frost❄ (elsafrost) | 54 comments Soooo, I finished the book today and I feel like I was expecting more than what I got. I mean, generally I think the book is okay, but I wanted more originality that I felt the book was lacking.

I am looking forward to book 2, because I want to see if the author will put forth more of her own originality and if this book was just a revving up towards building up her own name and eventually developing her own unique style (because first book out means possible flexibility from the publisher for second book) and etc. I feel like she went on her own original route in the ending scenes, and I hope she keeps that up on book 2.


message 12: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 856 comments I finally started this one last night and couldn't put it down. I had to make myself go to bed.


message 13: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
How Urban Fantasy-ish is this one?

That's my one concern on this one... I got burned out on the first person POV, investigation/mystery style of urban fantasy years ago.


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
I loved the Dinetah/Navajo elements in this. I always enjoy books that are steeped in a culture and the author doesn't try to explain everything for the reader. She thanks Daniel Jose Older in the acknowledgements, and her use of Navajo language and mythology reminded me of his use in his YA series (sorry, tired this morning and my brain won't tell me the name), though they're obviously very different books and very different cultures.

I both agree and disagree that it's typical of urban fantasy. I think if you took the Navajo elements out, you'd have about a chapter of content. Those elements are essential. Yes, there are similarities between cultures (Ma'ii definitely reminded me of Loki), but it's still a unique culture and magic system.

But, the relationship stuff did annoy me. I'm always annoyed by insta-love stuff, though that is explained at the end, with Kai's tribe ability. But I also think that it's a failing of me as a reader. Romance is a great genre, that I have trouble appreciating. So I can't say whether the romance was developed well or not, just that it personally felt jarring to me.

However, I did appreciate that Kai did not represent the typical masculine love interest. In many ways, Maggie and Kai's roles -- if this were a stereotypical UF -- are reversed. And because of that, I do see what Asaria is saying about Maggie not having enough nuance. I still liked that she was tough, but also broken from past relationships. Like Chris, I think the main theme in this novel was healing.

I can't tell if I'm going to read the next one or not. I liked it, but it felt a little sparse to me.

Melanti, it's not investigation/mystery, but is first person, with a love triangle. It combines an action apocalypse novel with urban fantasy.


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
Oh, Rebecca Roanhorse just won a hugo for best short story, and a campbell award for best new writer: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/20/17...


Jalilah | 4549 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "I loved the Dinetah/Navajo elements in this. I always enjoy books that are steeped in a culture and the author doesn't try to explain everything for the reader. She thanks Daniel Jose Older in the ..."

I still would like to read it. I am number 8 on 4 copies in the library cue, so hopefully I won't have to wait too long!
There are a few books I actually liked with love triangles. It really depends on how they are depicted and how much I like the rest of the book. For example Elfland ( and not the King of Elflands Daughter) has one and I loved the book.


❄Elsa Frost❄ (elsafrost) | 54 comments Margaret wrote: "Oh, Rebecca Roanhorse just won a hugo for best short story, and a campbell award for best new writer: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/20/17......"

I didn't know that! That's so cool! I'm glad she won the award.


message 18: by Katy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 856 comments Margaret wrote: "Oh, Rebecca Roanhorse just won a hugo for best short story, and a campbell award for best new writer: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/20/17......"

Very cool. I think that she is still developing as a writer and I look forward to reading more of her work.


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
Katy wrote: "Very cool. I think that she is still developing as a writer and I look forward to reading more of her work. "

Me too. I heard the short story is very good from a friend, and it's free to read.


message 20: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "Melanti, it's not investigation/mystery, but is first person, with a love triangle. It combines an action apocalypse novel with urban fantasy. ..."

Thanks for the info. I missed my checkout window, though. I think I'll just pass on the group read since I'm not all that excited about it and it'll be October/November before my turn rolls around again.


message 21: by Leah (last edited Sep 20, 2018 11:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments So, I'm late to the party (story of my life lol), but here's my review.

I was a skosh let down. Maybe I was caught up in the PR machine behind its release (and that awesome cover) and expected too much -- it is a debut after all.

Melanti, I'm rather averse to insta-love and love triangles, but I found the "romance" handled quite well, especially in comparison to other UF. Don't let that be the reason you don't read this one. Although, I'm like you in that I burnt out on UF first person POV. This is also present tense first person. So that would be the reason I'd advise you to hold off on Trail of Lightning -- because it is a bit by the numbers in that respect.

The best part of this UF is the culture, clan powers, gods of Native origins. I disagree that you would still have a novel if you removed those aspects. It is built quite solidly around their culture, beliefs, and power structures.

I started to say I think the weakest part of the plot was the post-apocalyptic aspects. It just didn't feel like these characters were living in a world decimated by the "Big Water." I mean, it was such a powerful worldwide event and it kicked off what the Dine call The Sixth World. Yet they don't seem to be doing without a whole lot. However, after thinking further, maybe those on the rez wouldn't feel the effects as dramatically as other parts of the country.

Did anyone else question the post-apocalypse setting? Or did you forget that was even a major part of the Sixth World?


Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
At times I forgot about the post-apocalypse setting. And then there would be a reminder, and I would go like, oh yeah.


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
I'm wondering if the apocalypse setting will play more of a part in future books?


Jalilah | 4549 comments Mod
Still waiting for my copy!


message 25: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Margaret wrote: "I'm wondering if the apocalypse setting will play more of a part in future books?"

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I'm wondering that too.


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
It would kinda make sense. Establish her home and the reservation first, and then move outside it. But, in typical UF form, she would return to her home base for various reasons.


message 27: by Jalilah (last edited Oct 21, 2018 07:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4549 comments Mod
I just finished it this morning. I enjoyed it, but have to agree that aside from the Dine/Navajo elements, the plot is not very original and could have taken place anywhere.
Melanti wrote: "Ick... I'm not much of one for romance plots to begin with but that sounds creepy."

The romance element in the story is very minimal imo and so is the so called a love triangle

Melanti wrote: "How Urban Fantasy-ish is this one?

That's my one concern on this one... I got burned out on the first person POV, investigation/mystery style of urban fantasy years ago."


The style is very typical Urban Fantasy-ish. To be honest, were it not for the First People's/Native American setting and characters, I would not have liked it. Almost all the elements that maded me discontinue the Dresden Files are in this book too.

However the facts that because I am interested in First People's/Native American culture and mythology, love the American Southwest and have family ties to New Mexico the story still felt different to me and interesting.


message 28: by Jalilah (last edited Oct 23, 2018 04:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jalilah | 4549 comments Mod
Leah wrote: ".

I started to say I think the weakest part of the plot was the post-apocalyptic aspects. It just didn't feel like these characters were living in a world decimated by the "Big Water." I mean, it was such a powerful worldwide event and it kicked off what the Dine call The Sixth World. Yet they don't seem to be doing without a whole lot. However, after thinking further, maybe those on the rez wouldn't feel the effects as dramatically as other parts of the country.

Did anyone else question the post-apocalypse setting? Or did you forget that was even a major part of the Sixth World?
.."


I felt that part was not well developed. In my case I never forgot, but was constantly asking myself questions, like "okay the West and East Coasts of North America are gone now, but what about the rest of the world?"

Am I the only one or was anyone else confused by the last few chapters? I feel kind of dense but why did she have to "kill" Kai and how did that even work?


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
It's sad I can no longer remember the end. Sigh.


Jalilah | 4549 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "It's sad I can no longer remember the end. Sigh."
She stabs or "kills" Kai knowing. It apparent that he is going to resurrect, but the others like Rissa don't know this and hate her for it.


message 31: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments I've been trying to remember the specifics since you posted a couple days ago. I think she killed Kai to convince Neizghání that she was going back to him, maybe?? A way for her to get close and perform that ending ritual. Unfortunately, I just can't recall the details now. Sorry!

I do remember wondering why Kai was being a pouty McPouterton. He didn't die after all. That felt manufactured to me -- Maggie is so close to a good relationship, but then she killed the guy to beat the "monster" and now he's holding a grudge because he wasn't in on the plan. I dunno. I think a better way to end would have been without revealing Kai resurrected.


Margaret | 3781 comments Mod
It's probably telling that neither of us remember the ending very well.


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