Previous Adventures in… Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)
Previous Adventures in… is a new series here on Reader Voracious that recaps the events that happened in the prior book(s) in a series. I have the memory of a goldfish and given my reading slump I want to avoid the need for me to re-read before diving back into a series for Future Kal. I figured that I would share with you all since I am writing them for myself anyways because I can’t be the only one with a terrible memory.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse was one of my top five favorite books that I read in 2018. If you’ve been anxiously waiting for Storm of Locusts to release so you can see the fate of your favorite characters, the wait is over because it is available today! 🎉 I’m here to remind you of everything that went down in the first installment of The Sixth World series (read my spoiler-free review for Storm of Locusts). Be careful, there be spoilers beyond this point for Trail of Lightning!
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! ACTION! CLIFFHANGER!
- Maggie is our protagonist, a monsterslayer who apprenticed under the immortal Neizghaní. Her family is dead, her grandmother being killed on her sixteenth birthday in front of her.
- Tah is an old medicine man in Tse Bonito that Maggie considers family. He’s adorable and calls her granddaughter.
- Kai is Tah’s grandson, who has been staying with him to learn the Medicine Way and Weather Way. Tah brags that Kai is going to bring back the old ways to help Dinétah. He’s Diné but from the Burque (what used to be Albuquerque) on the other side of the wall.
- Neizghaní is an immortal hero and monsterslayer, the son of two Holy People. He took Maggie under his wing after her grandmother was killed, training her until one day on Black Mesa when he left her behind.
- Longarm is the head of the Citizens Watch and Guard in Tse Bonito, also known as the Law Dogs. He hates Maggie for some reason, jerkface.
- Hastiin is the leader of the Thirsty Boys (calm yourself, not that kind of thirsty), which is essentially a militia group. Hastiin really doesn’t like Maggie because she cost him some money on a job.
- Ma’ii is the human name for the Coyote, the trickster god. He’s been appearing to Maggie in dreams and in person since she was younger. He doesn’t do anything that doesn’t benefit him; think of him like a Loki.
- Grace Goodacre is the woman that runs the All American Bar in the checkered zone, an area that cops and law dogs are not welcome. She’s a badass. Her husband passed away after Big Water, as did her oldest son. Her three remaining children, Freckles, Clive and Rissa (twins) help run the bar and safe zone.
“A hole in the heart is a hole in the heart, no matter what makes it.”
- The Sixth World series is set in a world after natural disasters and fighting amongst one another. Big Water brought hurricanes and intense flooding to the majority of the planet, yet our story is set in Dinétah (formerly known as the Navajo reservation) that is experiencing record drought.
- The Energy Wars was full of people trying to take resources; the Slaughter brought the oil companies to Dinétah in their search for oil, destroying sacred lands for pipelines and fracking. Dinétah builds a wall to completely separate itself and protect the ancestral lands from the non-Diné.
- Dinétah has a lot of oil, but it is controlled by the Tribal Council and sold to those with the most money — some of the richer societies beyond the wall — and live like royalty while most of the people live rough lives. Maggie rigged her truck to run on booze (which I would probably prefer to drink but to each their own).
- Due to the drought, water is scarce and intensely rationed. Dinétah appears to be a barter economy.
- Some people have clan powers that are activated in times of great need. Maggie’s clan powers make her superhero fast (like The Flash) and a really effective killer. Not everyone manifests clan powers, and it manifests differently for those that have them.
- Big Water ended the Fifth World and brought the Sixth World, opening the passage for Coyote and all the other Holy People (gods) to return.
“Sometimes the ones we call our heroes are the greatest monsters of all.”
- The book opens up with Maggie reluctantly coming out of retirement to hunt a monster that kidnapped a girl from Lukachukai. The monster is something she hasn’t seen before: man-shaped but not a human, and it was gnawing at the kidnapped girl’s throat and vocal cords. She kills the monster, but the girl is chewed up something bad and infected with the evil. She kills the girl to put her out of her misery.
- Maggie’s spent the last 9 months in her trailer far from other people in self-imposed isolation after being abandoned by Neizghaní on Black Mesa.
- Maggie takes the monster’s head to Grandpa Tah in Tse Bonito, who says it was shaped by bad medicine (witchcraft). Maggie wants to go after the witch, turns out her grandmother was killed by one in front of her on her sixteenth birthday (we learn this later in the text but yolo, it’s relevant here to her motivations).
- Tah essentially forces Maggie to take his grandson Kai with her on her hunt for the witch as a partner, saying he is a healer that can help her. They decide to go to Crownpoint library for research, but they find the town essentially decimated by a lightning strike and everyone is dead. The streets are littered with corpses and we learn that Kai can see ghosts all over. They cautiously go to the library and find some CD records of interviews with Navajo elders. The ghosts are all around as they leave, and escape easily enough. They decide to go to Maggie’s house to see if she has batteries for the CD player.
- Ma’ii is inside of Maggie’s trailer. She tells Kai to wait outside for fifteen minutes and goes in. Ma’ii is strangely interested in her feelings for her mentor. When Kai comes inside, Ma’ii tells stories to the two of them and gives her some hoops and asks her to do a mission for him. It’s lowkey obvious there’s some grudge status between Ma’ii and Neizghaní, so file that away in your brains.
- Kai propositions Maggie for a second time, the flirt. He sleeps on the couch instead but goes through everything while she is sleeping. Great way to earn trust, dude.
- The next day they head back to Tse Bonito, still in search of batteries (I really need to stock up on solar chargers for the apocalypse). When they get there though, there’s police tape all around and Tah’s house is on fire; the gossiping people in the crowd say it was a lightning strike. Just like in Crownpoint. Astute Reader will be putting two and two together here because it is said that lightning without clouds means a visitor is here, and also that Neizghaní uses lightning.
- Kai goes to charm info out of Longarm, which doesn’t really work and results in being handcuffed and beaten. Maggie kills him to save Kai and they flee toward the checkerboard zone… a lawless land where they can hopefully hide while he rests because he’s not doing so hot. Which is a shame since he is such a pretty boy.
- Grace Goodacre grants temporary asylum for 24 hours, in exchange for Maggie owing her a favor later if she survives. Kai wakes up from a nap looking not like ground hamburger – we learn he has clan powers for healing. Which is definitely handy for a monster hunter partner.
- Reports of monsters in Rock Springs – a border town on this side of the Wall – make their way to them, so Kai and Maggie lead the Goodacre twins (Clive and Rissa) to fight the monsters. When they get there, Rock Springs is a ghost town, but unlike Crownpoint, there aren’t any bodies. They are thinking that maybe everyone is hiding when lightning strikes and monsters appear, almost killing Rissa. Clive uses a flamethrower to kill some of the monsters until it jams, Clive takes Rissa back to the All-American to hopefully save her life after Kai puts a salve on her wounds. Then Kai sings to bring wind… starting a fire tornado to kill all of the monsters. Badass.
- Maggie and Kai return to Grace’s as heroes, much to Maggie’s surprise. Grace says her debt is paid and she and Kai are welcome as long as they want. Kai and Clive go drinking all night, while Maggie opts to sleep. The next evening they are all sitting down to have a meal together, Rissa is alive when Ma’ii comes to speak to Maggie. He says that he found a clue about the monsters but is suspiciously cryptic — only saying fire drill (firestarter). Which is a phrase that Kai and Maggie heard on one of the CDs before it ran out of batteries. Ma’ii says to go see a friend Mosí as she should have more information about the fire drill.
- Turns out that Mosí can be found in the Shalimar, a hidden club in Tse Bonito. Clive dresses her and Kai up so they will fit into the fancy club and Ma’ii transports the two of them there via a lightning bolt. He leaves once they get there, but before Kai and Maggie go inside, Kai puts a seeing thru illusion salve on their eyelids and takes bitterroot to ward off bad medicine. While they are inside, Kai is pounding back shots and acting like a drunk jerk, and goes off on his own because “no one will talk to him with her around.” She stands awkwardly holding tequila, and Clive shows up to help. Bless. Just as Clive is telling Maggie that there are tournament fights tonight with an epic grudge match secret billing, Kai returns with the same information. It is sold out, but Kai somehow scored them three tickets. Kai is also no longer drunk, it appears that his healing powers affect his ability to metabolize alcohol.
- After they check in all their weapons, goons come up and say that Mosí wants to talk to her. Clive and Kai refuse to let her go alone. Mosí says that another person came tonight asking for the fire drill and it must be fought for in the ring. After Maggie consents to fight, she learns it is to death and not the first blood. Uh oh. But she’s gutsy and confident, nothing to worry about. Right?
- Yea, about that. Turns out the other person looking for the fire drill is none other than Neizghaní. Coyote is the one that gave Mosí the fire drill, promising that both Maggie and Neizghaní will come. That epic grudge match? It was her versus Neizghaní. But why would Coyote manipulate both of them there?
- Neizghaní enters the ring and laughs, tries to convince Maggie to leave the ring and not fight. She refuses, all the pent up anger at being abandoned by him all those months ago. So they fight, and she is no match. He has her pinned on the ground, shoves his tongue down her throat to kiss her, and then plunges his lightning sword into her heart. Asshole.
- Kai nurses Maggie back to health, including cuddling. Swoon! Oh, and they kiss hot and heavy until Maggie has some PTSD of being kissed and stabbed by Neizghaní. When she is well enough she goes into the All-American and finds Hastiin and a couple of other Thirsty Boys in the kitchen. Grace transferred the debt owed to her by the Thirsty Boys to Maggie so she has additional backup against Neizghaní. Maggie knows where they must go: Black Mesa. The scene where he abandoned her. Kai keeps being all “remember I’m on your side,” which is code for “you are going to find out something that makes you not trust me.” My heart cannot take betrayal!
- The Coyote is waiting for Maggie on Black Mesa, not Neizghaní, and tells her that he was the creator of the monsters… all of them. Including the ones that killed her grandmother. He manipulated everything so her and Neizghaní’s paths would cross to awaken her clan powers. To make her a weapon against Neizghaní for revenge. Maggie shoots him in the head, and even though he can’t really die… he deserved it. I just wish I knew what the heck got his panties in a bunch about Neizghaní and on this quest for revenge.
- Once the Coyote is gone, Neizghaní appears and he is all abuser-manipulative. All love, she is glorious. Oh, and the sword branded Maggie with a lightning bolt, so he could always find her. Creeper.
- Meanwhile, Clive, Rissa, the Thirsty Boys, and Kai are fighting with the monsters. Not doing well. Neizghaní easily slays all the monsters and then wants to kill Kai, demanding that Maggie ask Kai why he’s really there, why he insisted on being her partner. Jealous much? Anyway, it turns out that he was lying. Kai’s second clan power is talking people out of hurting him, a silver tongue. Which makes sense considering he acted reckless with Longarm and said things alluding to the fact he thought he could talk himself out of everything.
- Kai was having dreams of being hunted by a monsterslayer and he wasn’t sure if it was her or Neizghaní, so when she turned up at Tah’s house he decided to do what he could to get on her good side. He came to genuinely like her though. “I healed you because I couldn’t lose you.” sobbing brb
- Maggie gets a plan based on Kai’s dreams, asking what happens after he dies. Realization and dread come across his face, but he accepts it as she shoots him in the heart and my soul dies a little.
- But it brings joy and pride to Neizghaní, and he calls Maggie magnificent. He turns his back and walks on, expecting Maggie to follow him. She uses the hoops from the Coyote to essentially bind him in place. He is not pleased as he sinks into the ground. Bye, Felicia! (He’s a god though so I doubt this is the last that we’ll see of him.)
- Maggie saved the day, but unfortunately, her friends saw her essentially shoot Kai point blank in the heart in cold blood. Rissa is really pissed off and tells her to go, she is no longer welcome and if she’s seen again she will be killed.
- Maggie believes that Kai will wake up though. He better!
- Four days pass, and Maggie is in her trailer. Someone comes in, and it is Tah! Yay, he didn’t die in the fire! “Come on home, shí daughter. We’ll wait for him together.”
What an ending, am I right?! Honestly, I cannot believe that the book ended on such a cliffhanger and I had so many questions going into Storm of Locusts. I hope that this spoiler recap helps jog your memories going into book 2 – it certainly did for me and it was great going in with everything fresh in my mind.
Let’s go on another adventure together!