Holder of Lightning
Reviewed by Coral
One night, as she is chasing after her old stubborn ram, Jenna Aoire is shocked to see the night sky explode into colors. These are mage lights and it has been a long time since they have visited the realm of Talamh an Ghlas. But the lights are not the only things Jenna will find this night. Instead she finds a stone that will throw the whole of her world into chaos.
In her hands she now holds the most powerful cloch - a stone of magic - the world ever knew. She is now a First Holder, destined to re-awaken the other less powerful cloch - some held by descendents of past mages, some lost and some hidden - in the world. Legend tells of how painful it will be for a First Holder, so the lords and ladies she finds herself surrounded by, wait patiently for her to complete her duty, fully expecting it to kill her. Polite smiles and kind words hide a deep desire they all have to become the Second Holder of this most powerful cloch. Who can she trust? And how far are the lords and ladies willing to go to get their hands on her stone?
The problem with this book is that Jenna is not a very sympathetic character. In attitude she is one of those holier than thou, goody two shoes characters I find so very boring and annoying. However, her deeds totally belie her beliefs, making her a hypocrite as she refuses to see it.
The book started off so promising, too, giving us a world that wasn't simply black and white, or right and wrong. We are presented with a world that is very gray. Unfortunelty, Jenna can't grasp that, seeing the world split on a strict right-wrong divide. And nobody calls her on it.
Jenna's mother, a commoner, falls in love with a nobleman, Mac Ard - my favorite character, by the way - and becomes pregnant with his child. Mac Ard can't marry her, though he loves her completely. So he does what he can for his child, claiming it in front of the nobility, accepting the boy as his and naming him as his heir. I like the realism of this, because people like Mac Ard wouldn't always be free to marry the person they love, not in the world they live in. Jenna, though, can't accept the fact that he won't marry her mother, and hates him for it, naming him a coward.
Worse, Jenna is a drug addict through most of the second part of the book and places her trust in people it's painfully obvious she shouldn't. When she learns of their betrayal, the addiction makes her lose control of herself, taking the life of someone in a very high place. Now she has been named a criminal, and must flee to protect her life.
The problem is, that in the world of the nobility, life is like a chess game. You think up a strategy, make your move and wait to see how your opponent reacts. That's the way the world works, and Jenna is angry at the "pieces" for playing the game they're stuck in. And, when she finds herself on the losing team, her addiction makes her smash apart the board in frustration.
She knows that losing her cloch will destroy her, but she shows no hesitation in taking one from one of the people sent to bring her to justice, or under control, or kill her, whichever. It's like taking a piece of the man's soul, and she wonders why he won't stop chasing her?
The end, where we're supposed to feel bad for her? I love it. I love that someone actually told her off, and told her to go to hell, in so many words. Because, by the end, I found myself hating this holier than thou, hypocrite bitch.