Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)by Rebecca Roanhorse Published 26 Jun 2018
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While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.
Welcome to the Sixth World.
"Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)" Reviews
"an indigenous Mad Max: Fury Road" whom else is crying
I think this novel has been a LONG time coming and I'm glad it's here. Now.
My only concern is that this UF series came out so late in the whole UF cycle thing. I needed this a decade ago. I needed a full American Indian mythological romp with Coyote and so many fantastic supernatural additions to my reading schedule!
Not just fae and vamps and druids and wizards... I needed THIS!
That being said, I really liked it. :) Flooding took out most of the world and it was like coming back home to New Mexico, one of the few places to survive the wipeout and the breakdown of society.
So here we are... post-apocalyptic breakdown with a tight, tight supernatural native American pantheon coming to life. :) And I love Maggie. :)
No spoilers. I will say that the plot is solid as hell and the magic is gorgeous and the action delightful. It's a primo UF that delivers on the fun factor, the mythological factor, and the character factor. :)
Definitely looking forward to the whole series.
Originally posted at https://1000yearplan.com/2018/06/28/t...
Early in Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut urban fantasy novel Trail of Lightning, protagonist Maggie Hoskie is talking to a couple whose daughter was stolen by a monster. The girl’s mother asks Maggie is she can save their child. Maggie responds only that she can find her, a distinction the desperate and grieving woman recognizes. Our first impression of Maggie is of a woman who believes that once evil touches you, it gets inside you and stays there. And it isn’t something Maggie just believes about little girls who get stolen by monsters – she believes it about herself.
Plotting is never the main attraction in urban fantasy. Not that good storytelling isn’t important; it most definitely is. But the setting is the hook that draws you in, and the protagonist is the spark that lights the fire. Roanhorse nails both of those things with a vengeance. Trail of Lightning is set entirely in Dinétah, the Navajo Nation reborn after a combination of ecological catastrophe and mass energy crises caused mass flooding and worldwide collapse. The devastation ushered in the Sixth World, the return of the gods and monsters and heroes of Navajo legend to the mortal world. For Maggie, it activated clan powers deep in her lineage that make her Living Arrow, or, really good at killing.
When Trail of Lightning starts, golem-like monsters are terrorizing families throughout Dinétah, and Maggie is on the hunt for the witch responsible for creating them. Grandpa Tah, an adoptive father figure for Maggie, thinks she needs a partner and hooks her up with his grandson Kai. At first, Maggie is downright hostile to the idea of having a partner, but Kai seems to have an uncanny talent for persuasion and soon proves himself useful. But before they can make any headway, the trickster god Ma’ii, and old “frenemy” of Maggie’s, shows up with a side quest for Maggie and Kai, a seemingly unrelated ploy for Maggie’s attention that does, however, provide her with some important tools for achieving her goal.
The main story of Trail of Lightning comes to a satisfying enough conclusion, though its digressions occasionally disrupt the novel’s pacing, and the answers basically just fall into Maggie’s lap at the end. Where it does succeed brilliantly, however, is in drawing the reader deeper into the mythology of the Sixth World, and into Maggie’s fascinating and blood-drenched backstory – her grandmother’s death at the hands of a witch, her toxic relationship with the legendary, immortal monsterslayer Neizghání. The novel became more a process of discovery for me, of Roanhorse’s world and the people who inhabit it, one that mines a rich vein of emotional and visceral impact and left me wanting more.
Many thanks to Edelweiss and Saga Press for the opportunity to read this ARC.
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Representation is so important in fiction.. It’s much easier to sink into a character’s story when they resemble you in some way. For centuries there was very little healthy representation of anyone outside of heterosexual white males of European descent. Characters who fell outside of these restrictions tended to be only secondary characters, and were often portrayed as two-dimensional caricatures of the race or sex or religion they represented. There were exceptions, of course, but they were few and far between, and were often authored by women using male pseudonyms. That still left many groups utterly unrepresented, though. Thankfully, in the past few decades this lack has been addressed, and the variety of representation in literature has skyrocketed.
When I first heard about this book, I was incredibly excited. I’ve thought for years that there was a lack in urban fantasy. There are so many urban fantasy series that take place in the America, but few involve the culture that’s been here the longest: that of Native Americans. Yes, some of these involve Coyote in some side plot, but he is but one of the many spirits and deities spread across a multitude of tribes.
Roanhorse’s tale takes place within a walled Navajo reservation after an apocalyptic flood has destroyed much of the world beyond their walls. The flood unleashed a wave of magic upon the Navajo nation, magic that is ancient, that has slumbered for centuries but has finally returned. Not only do spirits and deities once again rove among men and monsters walk the earth, but the people once again possess powers based on their clans. Medicine men are once again imbued with great power and insight into the spirit realm. I found the whole Navajo mythos incredibly fascinating.
I have no Navajo blood in me, but my great-grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee, and my husband’s great-grandmother grew up on the Sioux Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. While our heritage might be generations removed, it’s something both of us deeply respect. When our band went on tour, one of our stops was actually the Rosebud Reservation. Chris was able to visit some of the deepest roots of his family’s history, and we were able to see what Rez life was like. It was both one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and one of the saddest. History and culture and pride mingled with poverty and resignation. We both had incredible wells of conflicting emotions within us by the time we left. Roanhorse does a great job of capturing that duality of splendor and squalor in this first novel of her Sixth World trilogy.
So, why didn’t I rate this book higher? The reason is twofold. First, the book is almost unrelentingly dark. Even moments that were meant to be humorous always held a tinge of bitterness. I understand that it was a dark situation and that the main character had known little joy in her life, but that level of darkness with no relief is difficult to stomach. Which brings me to my second issue: our main character. Maggie is a Monsterhunter, and she’s an utter badass. However, she was incredibly difficult to relate to. Her unhappiness was so total, and she worked so hard to keep others out, that it was nearly impossible to feel much empathy for her because it was hard to get close to her. Since we were viewing other characters through her eyes, this affected the development of the supporting cast, as well. Maggie does loosen up some by the end of the book, and we are able to relate more to both her and the other characters more in the final few chapters than in the entire rest of the book. But by that point, the damage had been done; it’s hard to care about the outcome of the story if you aren’t allowed to care about the characters until too late.
While this was an interesting story with pretty fantastic world building, I’m still uncertain if I’ll continue reading the series when the next book is released. But I’m overly sensitive to darkness, and I have a feeling that there are many readers who will enjoy this story far more than I did. Even if I don’t continue, I have immense respect for Roanhorse and the representation she has provided for the Navajo people in particular and Native Americans in general.
Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse is an amazing book! Set in the future after multiple Earth changing disasters and population decimating events, this has terrific world building! It's a fantasy with monsters, and people with "clan" given gifts born into them. Our main Gal of the story is good at monster killing. The native Indian lore of the Coyote is in here as a character, the trickster. This book has a lot of Indian legend and lore to it. Fascinating and exciting, many unexpected plot line that kept me guessing! Would love to see this as a movie!
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/07/16/...
Trail of Lightning welcomes us to the “Sixth World”, a post-apocalyptic future in which our planet has gone through a number of drastic changes. Rising sea levels and devastating tsunamis have wiped out most of the earth’s coastal cities, killing billions and leaving only the inland regions and high elevations above water. In the southwest of what was once the United States, the Navajo Nation of Dinétah has survived, shielded by a magical barrier. However, their people too have seen plenty of hardship since the Big Water swept over the continent, isolated as they may be. Many of their legends have come to life, their gods and mythological figures made real. Unfortunately, these also included the monsters from their ancient lore, who are now loosed upon the land, preying on humans.
Enter our protagonist, Maggie Hoskie. Whenever there was a monster that needed killing, she and her former mentor Neizgháni, a monster slaying god of Native American legend, would take care of it together. But that was before Neizgháni abandoned her. Now on her own and feeling hurt and betrayed, Maggie ekes out a living by taking on contracts as a monster bounty hunter. The book begins as she is called upon to track down a creature that has snatched a little girl from a Dinétah village. Maggie follows the trail into the mountains, only to find that the creature is in fact a magical construct similar to a golem—the kind only a powerful witch can create. To find out more, she decides to seek out the help of her wise friend Grandpa Tah, but as it turns out, the old man has other ideas. After introducing Maggie to his grandson Kai Arviso, a Medicine Man in training, Tah persuades Maggie to take the young man along with her on her monster hunt, convinced that their skills will complement each other. Reluctantly, Maggie agrees, and together with her new partner, the two of them set out for the old tribal archives hoping to glean some clues as to who orchestrated the golem attack.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of books containing elements which have a basis in Native American myths and culture, especially in the urban fantasy genre. But rare it is to find a book like Trail of Lightning where indigenous characters and their lives are at the forefront of absolutely everything, including the story and setting. This book is set entirely within Dinétah—a relatively small area on a map, to be sure, but Rebecca Roanhorse makes it feel as though there are endless possibilities to explore. The world-building is fantastic, drawing upon the Navajo perspective to flesh out the history and atmosphere of the setting. I also loved the supernatural aspects, which we got to see a lot more of as the plot unfolds. It’s like every time you turn the page, the world opens up a bit more. Fascinating people, incredible stories, and all kinds of extraordinary beings and creatures can be found in Dinétah, and I had a lot of fun discovering them all.
Maggie is also a wonderful protagonist. She’s a bit of an enigma when we first meet her, everything about her shrouded in mystery. She’s cagey about her past—and for good reason, since her history is full of pain and violence—but in time, she does start to reveal more about herself. I love her voice and take-no-nonsense attitude as she moves through life, ignoring the ugly rumors from the people who fear her for what she does. She also has great chemistry with Kai, even though he is her opposite in many ways. Truth is, the plot of this novel is actually quite basic and uncomplicated, but it’s the characters and their relationships that drive the narrative forward, keeping the momentum going and the reader interested.
Like most debut novels though, Trail of Lightning is not without its flaws. As I alluded to before, the story is rather simplistic, and paced somewhat unevenly. There were also predictable sections mixed in with plot developments that felt completely random. And while overall the world-building was fantastic, I still felt there were some gaps that needed to be filled, because I was left with a lot of questions. In terms of characters, the supporting cast could have been given more attention, though Maggie and Kai themselves were very well written. However, I also felt that their romantic relationship came on a little too fast and out of nowhere. The story’s antagonist was a bit of a disappointment as well, and I still have very mixed feelings on how the resolution to the conflicts played out.
But at the end of the day, I can’t deny I had a great time with Trail of Lightning. The book runs into a few hitches, but overall it’s a fast-moving and exciting plot with compelling characters and rich world-building that will keep you turning the pages quickly. I hope this novel will be the start of many more to come in the series, because clearly we’re only scratching the surface of the potential here. I look forward to returning to The Sixth World.