Friday, December 3, 2010

Children of Sun by R. B. Holbrook

Oracle's Legacy: Children of Sun
This book by Holbrook is the first in the Oracle's Legacy trilogy. I'm not a big fan of multiple POV novels, and this book has plenty of them, so that made it a little hard for me to enjoy.

There is, evidently, a secret society known as the Structure, which has been around for about eight thousand years, composed of seven Houses, which are each known for their style of energy manipulation, giving them special talents. The primary protagonist in this novel is Ollie (Olivia), a member of House Sun, which manipulates mental energy, known for scholars, telepaths and telekinetics. Ollie is the adopted daughter, one of eighteen children, of The Oracle, the person who nominally rules the entire Structure.

The cycle has turned, the time has come, and the portents are ripe for the Oracle to die or step down and be replaced by a new Oracle. As you might anticipate, the political maneuverings and outright power grabs have begun, and Ollie somehow seems to be the key to multiple Houses' and factions' plans to have one of their members take the position. Most of the factions seem to be trying to kill her off, for no apparent reason, but it does give Holbrook a chance to demonstrate some of Ollie's odder mental powers, which don't seem to fall within the normal repertoire of House Sun.

Ollie has a very odd, and sometimes incomprehensible, relationship with each and every one of her tribe of adopted siblings. Despite various flashbacks and dribbles of her past experiences that came along over the course of the novel, I never really felt like I understood why she was saying and doing half the things she did. Aside from a few of the younger siblings who appeared a bit more mellow and compassionate, I couldn't follow the motivations of most of her family.

Each of the members of a House has an identifying mark, or energy seal, distinctively shaped for that House. As the member proceeds along the path of "enlightenment" the seal grows to cover more of the skin. There are different levels of enlightenment, but all members of the structure are presumed to be more "enlightened" than ordinary humans. I had to wonder how a group of people who have been studying enlightenment for thousands of years could still be just as venal, corrupt, and greedy as ordinary humans, but I guess none of us outgrow original sin, eh?

There's a glossary of the Houses and terms in the front of the book, which you're definitely going to need to help you make sense of events as you read. This book was really very difficult to follow, with its POV jumps, characters whose motivations were never quite clear, and a very gradual dribbling out of important facts about the history of the Structure, the Houses, and the characters. Despite that, I grew rather fond of Ollie, her prickly demeanor and need to defend her family at all costs, and some of the applications of each House's powers were novel twists. I'll get round to finishing the trilogy eventually, and hopefully much which is dark will become light.

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