Wyrd & Wonder Read Along: Sunbolt

I was entirely new to Intisar Khanani’s work before reading this novella, but after reading it I do believe I’ll be reading more.

But for now, let’s discuss Sunbolt. (Spoilers for the full novella!)


Two figures on either end of a banner image, one of whom is holding a key. Text in the middle reads "Sunbolt / A Wyrd and Wonder Readalong / Sunbolt + Memories of Ash"


If you’d like to join the Read Along for this and/or Memories of Ash, you can find the full schedules here.

What did you think of the world building surrounding Karolene, its people, and the magic overall? What about the Shadow League?

I love how concise and well-considered it was; we don’t get an infodump up front, and the information we do get is sprinkled in when and where we need it, without slowing down the story. Well-earned points right there.

As for the worldbuilding itself, I was pretty fascinated by it all! It can be tricky to drop a reader into the middle of a story that’s apparently already underway, as it were; the author manages it very well here, and a lot of that comes from the skilled handling of the setup.

I also deeply appreciate that the people of Karolene in general haven’t gotten too cynical yet to stop caring about others. I loved the scene where the folk in the market helped Hitomi run and hide, and I love that this theme of reaching out and lending a hand didn’t stop there.

Right at the start Mama Ali foretells Hitomi’s future. Hitomi doesn’t take it too seriously and it seems to be a direct reference to the situation she was in at the moment. Do you think that was all that this foretelling was about or do you think it referenced other things that we saw happen to Hitomi?

Hmm. Well it wouldn’t be much of a foretelling if it began and ended there, so I definitely think there was more to it than that. And given the chatter over Memories of Ash in our Discord (thanks for the spoiler tags!), I’m guessing that the next book bears that out. And I love to be teased in this way so I’m super eager now to get on to it!

Hitomi is a Promise. Someone with a talent for magic but untrained. What do you make of her outbursts of magic and what has been told about that?

I’m always fascinated by the journey of a young, inexperienced magic user toward becoming someone more skilled and/or someone wiser, and Hitomi needs both of those things – but she already has her wits about her (more or less, let’s not mention the attempted carriage theft), which is always a solid start. As for what we know … it isn’t a great deal at this point, unless I missed something – but again, that’s why I want to read on!

During her captivity we learn of fangs and breathers. What are your thoughts on these species?

Again, we see some clever, careful use of worldbuilding to explain these creatures, less through a bunch of words and more through their actions, and their interactions. Again, I’m here for it. As for the species themselves, I’m especially fascinated because they’re presented not in black-and-white terms but in shades of grey, where their morality is concerned. Dark power doesn’t necessarily equal a thoroughly evil being – though Kol isn’t doing much to dispel that myth, to be fair. Very hiss-worthy, that one.

She escapes with Val, a breather. After she saves his life and is gravely injured, he takes care of her. He says he owes her a debt and that is the only reason. What do you make of his actions?

Iiiiinteresting! I’m certainly not convinced that he’s a white-hat-wearing good guy, but he does the right thing here, and that’s what counts, right? I’m not sure we’ll see him again, but I’m definitely not against the possibility! I want to know more about him, for sure.

Hitomi is now left with Mistress Stormwind. What do you make of our mage? What role do you think she will play in the future?

This book just keeps throwing the addictive tropes at me, and the magic teacher/student relationship is another one I love. Especially when the teacher in question is kind of a grump about the situation, hehe! Mistress Stormwind doesn’t strike me as the type to go easy on Hitomi, but then Hitomi strikes me as someone who needs a firm hand to keep her from making foolish mistakes, or at least teach her how to recognise them when they occur. (Carriage theft. Ahem.)

This is one of those moments where I don’t really know what to expect from these characters, despite the story that unfolds here and the way it ends, but I love it here because it’s making me want to keep reading. And that’s nothing but a win.




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