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Holder Of Lightning [Hardcover]

S Farrell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 7 2003 Cloudmages (Book 1)
In Holder of Lightning, Book One of The Cloudmages, a seventeen-year-old farm girl named Jenna picks up a small but strangely alluring stone on Knobtop Hill-and, with that single act, her peaceful life is forever changed. First, the lights appear-the mage-lights which shone only in legends from the time Before. Then, with the lights, come the trouble and the magic, too...

For what Jenna holds in her hands is the Lamh Shabhala, the master stone of legend which could reawaken all of the stones. And the Holder of this stone is said to pay the greatest price for wielding such powerful magic.

Now, Jenna fears for her home, her friends, and her family.

Ancient legends are waking-and walking the earth.

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Product Description

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 na‹ve, 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.

From Booklist

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

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a riveting book! May 26 2004
By Meghan
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. If you have always been interested in the Irish ways and Celtic times and tradition as I have, you will love this book. This book explodes into a riveting tale of love, lust, and magic. The magic of the mage lights, the love of Coelin, the lust of Mac Ard. Follow Jenna Aoire as she learns of a power that has chosen her and brought on burdens and pain but also gifts and power. Feel her pains and fears, her hopes and joys, as this amazing tale becomes one with you as you read. The powerful strength of the words and feeling in this book will not let you put it down. This is truly a tale to be told.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Just Didn't Work For Me. April 4 2004
Format:Hardcover
Picked up the book at the library - the fantastic cover art and exerpt intrigued me at the bookstore, but I don't have the cash to purchase every book that I see that interests me on the shelves =) Boy, am I glad that I didn't waste the money.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top Echelon Feb. 6 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I would agree that this book belongs in the upper quadrant of fantasy. In fact, I believe it to be in the top echelon. But I have to shake my head at some of the comments made by a previous reviewer, who commented that the world was "not new." Like most of the reviewers, I found the world in this book to be quite finely drawn and incredibly detailed with a rich, textured background. Yes, several of the creatures are familiar -- this is, after all, a Celtic-based fantasy and I'd be surprised and perhaps a bit disappointed if the creatures of that mythology didn't appear here. But there are also new sights and marvels aplenty: the siog mist, the stone-beings called the Creanach, and so on.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A fun subway read but not much more Feb. 5 2004
By Milady
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Let me preface -- the book certainly belongs to the upper quadrant of fantasy literature. It has a swiftly-moving plot, some fairly interesting characters and doesn't trip into too many cliches. The world-building is commendably consistent though not original. I'll probably buy the second novel in the series.
The problems:
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.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Farrell's first fantasy book presents a rich world with well-developed characters, and a few surprising twists in the plot. However, the author's usage of Celtic-like terms and names without actually capturing the Celtic spirit, some naive choices of words and sentences, and a horrendous scene near the end of the book unfortunately make it just above average.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait until the next book!
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 more
Published on Oct. 29 2003 by barb fashant
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glorious And Appetite-Wetting Ride Of Fantasy and History
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 more
Published on Oct. 4 2003 by Martha
5.0 out of 5 stars Get the buzz going!!
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 more
Published on July 24 2003 by Miranda Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars True Magic
This book is one of the most grounded and facinating books that i have ever had the privledge of reading. Read more
Published on March 29 2003 by "magestaff"
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong characterization is a plus here
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 more
Published on March 8 2003 by Midwest Book Review
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, Exciting...a Book You Won't Want to Put Down
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 more
Published on Feb. 27 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book!
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 more
Published on Jan. 27 2003 by Chris Pasley
5.0 out of 5 stars strong epic fantasy
Centuries have passed since the mage-lights disappeared taking all of the realm's magic with it. Seventeen-year old Jenna Aoire, a crofter's daughter living in Ballintubber, tends... Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2003 by Harriet Klausner
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