Trail of Lightning read-along: week three

Trail of Lightning - a Wyrd and Wonder read-along

Old enmities flare into new conflict this week – and Maggie and Kai are forced to rely on uncertain friends for sanctuary. But it’s not just the Law Dogs who are out for blood. The tsé naayée are on the hunt again…

Welcome back to the Wyrd and Wonder read-along of Rebecca Roanhorse’s post-apocalyptic Navajo paranormal thriller Trail of Lightning. Yes, I’m making up categories because it seems daft to call a book that’s mostly set in the desert an ‘urban’ fantasy! We’re deep into the action now, so expect plenty of spoilers if you read on.

Right: let’s get into the nitty gritty of this week’s questions!

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?

I love found family (although I’d happily read more actual family too, as I commented last week) and I’d be very happy to spend more time with the Goodacres. They’re clearly a tight-knit clan, but I liked the way they opened their hearts to Maggie and Kai when they proved themselves – it was a much-needed note of warmth in what has been a very harsh, isolated world so far. See, Maggie? Bad-asses can have feelings.

I like that the narrative is challenging our monster-slaying hard-ass and her emotional aloofness. She’s terrified of forging connections (with reason; she doesn’t trust herself, and she’s lost everyone she’s ever cared for), but she’s not such a hard-ass she’ll abandon people who need her. Quite the opposite – she’s got a deeply-ingrained sense of responsibility, even if she does think abandoning people will make them safer (OH HEY MAGGIE REMIND YOU OF ANYONE?)

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?

Longarm seemed like a thoroughly nasty piece of work when we first met him, but it feels like quite a jump from bully cop to back street execution. What on earth happened at the hogan? Or – given Ma’ii’s words – perhaps the better question is what on earth happened at the Shalimar three nights ago? I’m pretty sure shooting Longarm was a terrible idea, though. He was still a cop, after all. But I’m not sure Maggie had a choice – she was too far away to save Kai any other way. Still, I think that will come back to bite her.

While I’m thoroughly unsurprised to find Kai has clan powers (because of course he does; his convincing smooth talk isn’t natural either, and he’s still not come clean about that), I was awed by his little exhibition in Rock Springs. Who needs a gun? Combined with his healing powers (and that silver tongue), he’s quite the bundle of talents to have on your side. And he genuinely seems to want to be on Maggie’s side… but I still don’t think he’s being honest.

You haven’t won me over yet, Kai Arviso.

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?

Initially, a rogue Neizghání seemed like a plausible twist: but now it’s feeling more like a red herring. Besides, creating tsé naayée seems like a massive career change for the Monsterslayer… I’m starting to wonder whether all of the (semi)-divine folk can ride the lightning after this week. I also wonder whether we’ll ever meet Maggie’s former mentor. I’m quite happy not to – Maggie needs to get closure there, but I’m not sure that has to happen in this particular story.

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?

By definition, we should always expect nothing but trouble – but that doesn’t preclude Maggie getting what she’s there for.

In other thoughts this week, I’m choosing to believe Tah’s still alive because we haven’t definitively learned otherwise. We were carefully kept away from the scene in Tse Bonito, so that feels to me like there’s still hope. I’ve not given up on you Tah!

I’m still having mixed reactions to this read. I’m slowly warming to Maggie, and the world is slowly gaining substance in my head (rather than just being made up of concepts I’m intrigued by); but I think this is a book that would benefit from being read uninterrupted. I’m liking bits and pieces, but it’s not coming together as a whole for me – and I know I’m not latching on to all the finer details of the plot.

Round the fire

I’m reading Trail of Lightning as part of the Wyrd and Wonder Read-along. See what my fellow readers had to say this week:

Read-along Discussion Schedule

  • SUNDAY 5th: Beginning through the end of Chapter Eight
  • SUNDAY 12th: Chapter Nine through the end of Chapter Eighteen
  • SUNDAY 19th: Chapter Nineteen through the end of Chapter Twenty-Eight
  • SUNDAY 26th: Chapter Twenty-Nine to the end

Already read it? Feel free to join in in the comments on our blogs or on Twitter – but please, no spoilers.

See you next week to see where this ends…