Holder Of Lightning Hardcover – Jan 7 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
The pseudonymous Farrell's formidably long and richly detailed fantasy debut launches a new series that's sure to delight fans of Celtic fiction. A magic talisman that holds the fate of the world falls out of the sky onto the tale's nave, 17-year-old heroine, Jenna Aoire, one night while she's herding sheep on Knobtop Hill with her dog outside the village of Ballintubber. The pebble-sized object, which turns out to be the Cloudmages' master spell-stone, the L mh Sh bh la, soon leads to trouble for Jenna and her mother, who must flee for their lives from their enraged neighbors. They come under the protection of the House of Mac Ard, but treacherous lords who covet the spell-stone ensure no rest for the weary refugees. In this thinly disguised medieval Ireland, every man's hand can be turned against every other's (and women aren't backward in the fight, either), particularly when the stakes are as high as they are here. Much intrigue involving a multitude of mostly well-drawn characters and little bloodshed make for a relatively leisurely plot by the standards of this subgenre. Powerful scenes of magic-wielding and the vividly depicted Celtic society, though, should hook persistent readers, who will be glad for the glossary of character and place names, a guide to the Daoine calender, a list of the holders of the L mh Sh bh la and more at the end of this challenging book.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Bringing home the sheep one evening, Jenna idly picks up a stone that feels good in her hand. She pockets it, and her life is never the same thereafter. The stone is Lamh Shabhala, a cloch na thintri that gathers and holds the mage-lights from the sky. Indeed, it is the master such stone, capable of waking the others, and by choosing Jenna, it makes her First Holder. Although that is a painful, disfiguring, emotionally challenging responsibility she doesn't particularly want, many others whose motives are entirely self-serving do. Already, other cloch are waking, and since, throughout history, the stones have been used as instruments of war and destruction, their holders intend to battle for all the power they can grab. Yet previous holders, who live on in Lamh Shabhala, want an era of peace and prosperity to begin with Jenna. Is she strong enough to rise to the occasion? Besides great, fast-paced fun, full of politicking and betrayal, Farrell's tale is a tragic love story with a surprisingly satisfying ending. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
The storyline is interesting - the idea that magics stem from what, to me, sounded like a more randomized aurora borealis; the young girl caught up in it all without any desire to be in the middle...
But the characters were awful. At the very best they were annoying, and more often they just didn't evoke any interest whatsoever. The main character, Jenna, usually came across as a drug-addicted, gullible spoiled brat. The "villains" didn't ever make much sense - as someone else has mentioned, *why* was the stone worth going to war for? - and the other "good" guys were incredibly predictable in their constant betrayals. Topped off by the wretched scene at the end...
Well, if the library gets the sequel in I may pick it up in hopes that the next generation of characters are a little bit more interesting - the whole concept really is very good - but I definitely won't be running out to put down money for it.
And the characters... These are frankly among the best, most well-drawn and believable characters I've had the pleasure to encounter in fantasy. Farrell's people are complicated, with genuine qualities, flaws, and motivations. Even the antagonists are understandable and believable -- none of them evil, but driven by motivations and agendas that place them at odds with Jenna and those around her.
HOLDER OF LIGHTING is a true and rich delight. A feast. Buy it, read it, then do as I've done and buy the next book. This is the beginning of a classic series and a bright talent.
1) Jenna's motivations were never really clear. I never got the sense of the person she was and despite the author telling me, through other character's mouths, that she was supposed to have grown and changed, I never really felt it. She was not pro-active enough - a basic problem when you have a character who is basically an illiterate farm girl thrust into great politics. I really liked that she remained illiterate, though, a bit of realism there.
2) Other character's motivations. Particularly Mac Ard -- it was very hard to see why he wanted the Lamh Shabhala so badly. He remained a cypher. Also, a reviewer below has pointed out another inconsistency regarding another character in the end. I also don't think it was established enough why Lamh Shabhala was worth going into a major war for -- we saw in the book that it was stronger than the other stones but only in the end got a glimpse of the full abilities.
3) Deus ex machinas (machinae)? Seancoim's sudden appearances, Thraisha (sounds like a black hip-hop star), shapeshifting, etc., etc.
4) The world was not "new" - it was too Tolkienesque, there was no sense of wonder for me, for all the "old" things the coming of the magic brought -- well, you'd seen all of them before. And they never rose above being "cool background."
The descriptions occasionally grated with anachronisms.Read more ›
The other reviewers have talked at length about the qualities of the book, so I'll just mention the drawbacks that impressed me most.
The first thing, of course, is the obvious similarity to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (content, ideas) and Jordan's Eye of the World (style and beginning). In our fantasy-saturated world, however, only very rare jewels manage to escape influences by others, especially at the beginning of their author's career. That is why this point is least important of the drawbacks.
Then comes the Celtic world that everybody else so appraises. It is a good attempt, indeed, but it by no means captures the fey Celtic fantasy spirit. Swarming the book with Celtic-like names and terms (lough for lake, dun for settlement, etc.) and mentioning a few fantasy creatures in passing (the fantasy creatures that do participate in the plot have nothing to do with Celtic fantasy) is not enough to make a book Celtic. It is probably enough to make it "Celtic-like", nothing more. If you are looking for a wonderful book that does capture the Celtic world, you'd best obtain and read R.Feist's Faerie Tale.
Then come the politics. The presentation of intrigue is shallow and naive, and very often I was able to guess who the "bad guy" was chapters before. Being predictable is not something that a book could be proud of.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I was blown away with this book. The feeling of reality brought out from this fantasy was overwhelming. Holder of Lightning caught my attention and kept it. Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by Meghan
I do recommend the book. It gives much depth to many past and present characters, and leaves many of them open to be explored in the future. Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003 by barb fashant
The gorgeous cover that features our main character, Jenna Aoire, using Lamh Shabhala as curls of colored air dance around her was what caught my eye in one of my favorite... Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2003 by Martha
This is a fabulous book and I don't understand why I haven't heard more about it. I know it's the first book in a series by a new author, but this is easily as good or better than... Read morePublished on July 24 2003 by Miranda Johnson
This book is one of the most grounded and facinating books that i have ever had the privledge of reading. Read morePublished on March 29 2003
Be prepared for a complex story not to be completed in a single volume: Holder Of Lightning is Book 1 of the Cloudmages series, and is the first in an anticipated epic which, if... Read morePublished on March 8 2003 by Midwest Book Review
Holder of Lightning continues the great fantasy remniscent of writers like Robert Jordan and J.R.R. Tolkein. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2003
This is a great start to a new fantasy epic. Normally when I read an epic, quick and easy references to Tolkein pop into mind (especially these days). Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2003 by Chris Pasley