Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Emma Merritt -- Lord of Thunder

Emma Merritt -- Lord of Thunder Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {3.90}
Action: ♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠
Action: 4 / Emotion: 4 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 1.5 / Suspense: 4  //  Historical Flavor: 3.5 / Laughter: 0 / Tears: 5

Setting:   Kingdom of Glenmuir / Scottish Highlands
Era:       A.D. 626
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Being a bit disappointed after reading Emma Merritt's first book in The Lord and Ladies Series, Lord of Fire, it was a relief that Lord of Thunder, the second book in the series, was much more exciting, attention grabbing, and entertaining.   The plotting moved the story along at a fast pace and was filled with plenty of action and suspense to keep one turning the pages way into the wee hours of the morning.   However, near the middle of the book, there was a lull in interest because of the redundancy regarding the ongoing relationship battle between the hero and heroine.

It was easy to want to walk in the same boots as the spunky, feisty heroine, Cait nea Sholto, one of four cloister minstrels, who was trained to defend herself with a whip and 20 small silver daggers she always carried with her.   Cait was one of those heroines that inspires great interest because she was intelligent, strong-willed and determined to live life on her terms.   Cait was a compassionate, caring character, who inspired loyalty and love in spite of losing her parents to brigands when she was eight.

E.M. did a great job of drawing readers back into the dark ages by inserting legends of gods and goddesses into the story as she wove a web of intrigue involving the high priests who protected the sacred holy place where Cait lived, The Shelter Stone cloister.   Cait and her younger cousin, Rob, were adopted by Sholto, the most high priest and the 'Ancient of Nights and Days.'   It was especially entertaining how E.M. continued to use the theme of Night and Day throughout the entire story.   First there was the legend of Father Creator's twin sons, Night and Day, who were forced to fight Chaos, and eventually lost their magical sickle sword and shield in the sacred pool of The Shelter Stone.   Then there was the parallel story of the twin brothers, likening them to Night and Day.

Another strong theme that runs through the book is the instant and mutual attraction between the over-achieving, hunky hero, Michael Langssonn, and Cait.   Michael and Cait meet in the first chapter of the book, where he wrongly assumes (as do most men of that time) that Cait is free with her favors simply because she is a traveling minstrel.   Cait set Michael straight in no uncertain terms and then proceeded to give him directions to Northern Scotland that would lead him away from her home, since he was a Northman, an enemy to all Highlanders.

When Cait's close friend, Dacy, rode into the cloister to warn the priests that King Ido of Glenmuir and all his family were killed by Northland sea raiders, the story kicked into high gear.   A highlander named Gilbert and his warriors had saved Glenmuir from destruction and had been named the interim King of Glenmuir until an heir could be located.   Cait was named an outlaw and conspirator because she had spouted out words of revenge against King Ido when he had ruptured her betrothal to the warrior Brieve so Brieve could marry Ido's daughter.

Sholto, already concerned that someone was after the sacred treasure stored in the Gift Chamber, entrusted to Cait the Lydian Stone Breastpin, which marked the route to the Secret Chamber, and sent Cait across the wastelands of Athdara to Northern Scotland to seek help and asylum from High King Fergus.   As Cait fled the cloister, the suspenseful nature of the story increased when one of the high priests met Gilbert in secret to tell him the possible routes that Cait would take.

The second major thread to the story (a continuation from book one) was Michael's oath to Thor to kill the man who dishonored his father's name.   Michael's father, Lang, the chief of the Clan of the Wolf, had betrothed Michael to Jarvia.   When Jarvia ruptured the betrothal, Malcolm mac Duncan, her new betrothed, paid the rupture price.   Revenge became necessary because Malcolm's best-man, Lachlann mac Niall, had supposedly led a raid on Lang's ship and stolen the rupture endowment.

This thread of the story was of special interest because, having read Lord of Fire, E.M. had revealed that Michael and Malcolm were identical twins and that Gilbert, then called Ghaltair, is the traitor that stole the rupture endowment.   It was easy to become deeply involved in the story because there were so many knotted threads that needed to be untied.   First, how would Michael and Malcolm react when they came face to face, which, in truth, was a wonderful scene.   Second, how would Michael's birth mother, High Queen Muireall of Northern Scotland, react when she saw that her first son was alive.   And, third, would Michael still challenge Malcolm to a duel to avenge his father's honor since the family dynamic would have drastically changed.

But before all that took place, Cait was caught by Gilbert's number one man, Ardac, in Athdara.   Cait was not sure that she was happy to be rescued by Michael and his warriors when Michael bought her from Ardac, who named her a whore and traitor.   And so began the ongoing relationship war between Michael and Cait.   Michael wanted Cait and she wanted him in return.   But . . . Cait refused to be the possession Michael now considered her.   Michael and Cait engaged in many moments of passion and anger as they traveled to Northern Scotland.

While the romance building between Michael and Cait was constantly threaded through the story, the sizzle and spice when it came to the lovemaking scenes was more in the nature of purple prose than sensuality.
"Oh, my husband," Cait whimpered, "you make me feel like the river outside our cave."

"How so, my lady?"

"Desire for you rages through my body.   You are the thunder, the lightning, the rain."

As the lightning and thunder went together, so did she and Michael.   Because of him, Cait knew the joy of perfect communion between man and woman.   (page 377)
One of the things about this book that was lacking was the development of secondary characters.   The story would have been so much richer had E.M. developed the personalities of the supporting characters, and had given them a point of view voice.   For instance, it was incredibly disappointing that there was so little time spent with Michael and Malcolm as they came to terms with their extremely strong ties and brotherhood.   Michael was the only one who described his coming to terms with his brother, and he spent very little time doing so because his point of view voice appeared on the pages much less often than did that of Cait.   The emotional depth to this reunion of twins was missing.

Although E.M. neatly threaded the story of how Lang and Muireall met thirty years ago when she was fleeing the village being raided by Lang's father, the brevity of time spent on their relationship was frustrating.   Although E.M. did a wonderful job of painting heartfelt feelings between Lang and Muireall and how their respective sons reacted to their union, their story was just too brief -- wish there could have been more about these two fascinating characters.

Michael's best man and childhood friend, Kolby Ingerssonn, was a wonderful addition to the story.   The male camaraderie conversations between Michael and Kolby, while much too brief, were indicative of how close these two men were.   And even though Kolby is to be the hero of his own book (book four of the series, Lady of Winter), this story would have been more enjoyable if Kolby's personality had been more richly developed.   Even though it is obvious Kolby's skills as a warrior were comparable to Michael's, his persona was a vague shadow.

Another best man and the hero of book three (Lady of Summer) was introduced and given no character development at all.   Malcolm's best man, Brian mac Logan was the man who meet Michael and Cait and their party as they crossed the river that brought them into Northern Scotland.   And while Brian was constantly about, he was given no physical attributes nor individuality.   And why did E.M. name him Brian mac Logan, when she had another of Malcolm's best men in the first book named Brian mac Lagan, who was married with four children.   All through this book it was hard to separate the two Brian's.

One other nit-picky little thing that was annoying.   On page 183, Michael was left handed.   On page 212 (and throughout the remainder of the book), Michael was right handed.

E.M. failed to describe the magic tied to the twins and the sickle sword and shield in the closing of the book when the brothers faced Gilbert.   The closing finale started out with a bang and ended with a whimper.   Having read books where the author successfully brought tears when it was believed the hero died, E.M.'s attempt to do so was dismal.

That is not to say that E.M. did not write tear-inducing scenes in this book.   She did a great job of keeping the reader emotionally tied to Cait as she fled her pursuers and had to deal with the injuries Ardac and his men inflicted on her fellow Silver Daggers.

So while Lord of Thunder was a wonderfully engaging and exciting read, it did not inspire the kind of interest that makes me want to read the next book in the series.   Yes, {1} the hero was the gorgeous hunk of masculinity that inspires drool-worthy interest, {2} the heroine was spunky, intelligent and spirited, {3} the action kept one turning the pages, {4} the suspense kept the reader guessing, and {5} the romance was ever-prevalent, but for some reason this author's style of writing does not prompt me to put her on my favorite authors list.   Lord of Thunder is an enjoyable book well worth reading, but it is not a must-read book.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday, February 6, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.)     [298]

Books In The Series: "The Lords and Ladies Quartet"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.01-1994Lord of FireMalcolm mac Duncan; chief of Clan DuncanJarvia; Law-Speaker of Southerland
02.08-1994Lord of ThunderMichael Langssonn; Norse VikingCait nea Sholto; Glenmuir minstrel
03.09-1995Lady of SummerBrian mac Logan; Highland WarriorLady Gwynneth; Pirate Queen
04.11-1996Lady of WinterKolby of Apelstadt;Lady Raven;

Characters Found In "Lord of Thunder"
Character Description
Michael Langssonn[Hero] (1) black hair; tall; formidable; sharp, angular features (1) black-enameled dagger; silver-hilted sword strapped around his waist; broad shoulders; massive chest; arms bulged with muscles; muscular legs; lean man; hard and tough as black leathern scabbard at his side; stance, physique and countenance bespoke power and might; piercing gaze (2) low, masculine voice (3) ring of iron in voice; spoke Gaelic fluently; big; formidable; seemed to be hewn from stone (4) vibrant, beautiful, startling, vivid blue eyes framed with long, dark lashes; eyes cold and emotionless (5) wore torque around his neck, three ropes of silver braided together, holding hammer of Thor (6) hard, masculine, sensuous lips (11) hard; strong; dangerous (14) trained in blind fighting (29) House of the Wolves (31) a man of his word (33) more formidable than his father; since childhood, obstinate opinionated, always one to do what he want, not caring what other people though about him; unusually gifted with a strength and wisdom that surpassed other children his age; excelled in physical contests, in endurance and agility, in might; intellectual curiosity and endless search for knowledge; educated himself; learned to read and write the runes; recorded his journeys to strange lands; learned to speak and write several languages; a mighty warrior; next chief of the House of the Wolf (34) always been single-minded, decided what he wanted and went after it (67) played flute (68) clean hands, nails cut short, calluses on base of fingers (91) thick, raven hair (92) beautiful long fingers clever and deft (93) physician (94) scholar; philosopher (145) headstrong; using to having own way (167) father instilled duties and responsibilities of leadership since baby; heir to the Clan of the Wolves (172) massive shoulders, slim waist; lean, muscled buttocks (174) never went back on his word (180) left handed (183) body all beautiful sun-bronzed skin and muscle (198) enigmatic man (202) predator; radiated power; right handed (212) 30-y-o (227) as child loved the dark, could see better in the dark than most (233) methodical (240) Lord of Thunder (245) honest; sincere (246) muscles rippled from his chest to his feet; chest covered in a mat of crisp black hair; lean, hard stomach (250) darkly handsome, face a study in rugged angles and planes (274)
Cait nea Sholto[Heroine] (1) trained to defend herself with a whip and blades; carried 20 small silver daggers with her (3) one of four cloister minstrels; first priestess of the Shelter Stone to become a cloister minstrel; king ruptured her betrothal to Brieve (8) name meant "the pure one" (11) 20-y-o; unusually beautiful; russet-colored hair; tawny gold eyes; provoking, alluring, mysterious, cat's eyes (13) slender; 16½ hands tall (14) wild and unruly like the Highland mountain cat (18) spoke several different languages, including Norse (20) vibrant russet-colored hair; tawny gold eyes; melodious lilt to her laughter; subtle fragrance of herbal scent (31) lived at cloister past 12 years since parents killed by brigands (37) trained to read and write the ogham, to use body signals for silent communication (59) a fighter (84) feisty (85) beautiful, husky, melodic voice (143) spirited; quick-witted (148) beautiful slender body; gently rounded breasts and hips (179) russet-colored tresses waved gently around her face, brushed seductively against her shoulders; small waist; full breasts (271) long, curling lashes (272) ivory white skin; long slender musician's fingers (272) Caity (385)
. . . . . .
Setting / Era / Chapter 1Kingdom of Glenmuir / Scottish Highlands / A.D. 626
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Ardac[Major Secondary Character] Gilbert's faithful warrior; seriously wounded; treated at Shelter Stone Cloister infirmary; worked as keeper of the grounds, found Shelter Chamber (64) older man; puffy scar running down his cheek (71) master of Gilbert's men (293)
Asgard[Term] Norsemen's god (111)
Astryd[No Appearance] Lang's wife; Michael's mother; daughter of Thorfin (229)
Athdara[Place] wild country, scarcely populated (27)
Blar[Major Secondary Character] Sholto's closest friend; priest of the shrine (9) Sholto's assistant, advisor (38) mammoth man; strapping man; booming voice; effusive personality; always able to see the good side of life; a man of strong emotion; never indifferent; a person never felt indifferent about him; nearing 50 years, physique of a 30-y-o man (39) white thick hair, cut short and brushed back from his face; twinkling blue eyes; guardian priest (40) good man; dedicated priest (50)
Bloodstone Breastpin[Item] an amulet on which engraved directions to find the Gift Chamber and the Secret Chamber (48)
Brian mac Logan[Secondary Character] [Hero of book 3] best-man to Malcolm; meet Michael at crossing to Northern Scotland (201)
Brieve[No Appearance] warrior; betrothed to Cait; betrothal ruptured by king; short time later married king's daughter; loved the power and position that king promised (9) one of Glenmuir's most valiant warriors (18)
Camshron mac Duncan[No Appearance] Michael and Malcolm's birth father (227) Camshron mac Duncan (340)
Catriona[Rare Appearances] 2-y-o little girl; russet hair; blue eyes; beautiful (210) abandoned orphan; Malcolm, Jarvia rescued and adopted (285)
Clete[One Appearance] Malcolm's elderly servant (344)
High Councilman Conn[One Appearance] Councilman of Glenmuir; sent Dacy to warn cloister of attack (53) 60-y-o (187)
Council of Priests[Organization] The Shelter Stone priests (9)
Dacy[Important Secondary Character] Cait's childhood friend; older than Cait and Rob; parents killed by brigands; left borderland to become a warrior of the king; green shirt and brown trousers, King Ido of Glenmuir's livery (51)
Dall[One Appearance] King Gilbert's man (289)
Dettra[Brief Appearances] seasoned warrior traveling with Silver Daggers; older man; huge; burly (24)
Dryad Cloister of the Grove[Organization] cloister of women priestesses who have taken a vow of silence and refuse to be seen by or mate with men (48) renowned goldsmiths (382)
Ern[Rare Appearances] warrior riding with Ardac; searched Cait (73) young; outrode other warriors (294)
Fagan[Rare Appearances] Silver Dagger (25) agile body flipping through the air in feats of stunning acrobatics (165)
Feich[Important Secondary Character] a seer (213) spindly body; wiry hair standing out in all directions (346)
Fergus[No Appearance] high king in Northern Scotland (59) died 2 months ago (205)
Finn mac Duncan[One Appearance] Malcolm's warrior; came to celebration to report that Malcolm's herd of cattle had been stolen (281)
Gerce[One Appearance] King Gilbert's man (289)
Gift Chamber[Place] secret chamber where the riches of the Shelter Stone Shrine were hidden; only the Ancient of Nights and Days and the Council of Priests knew the location; filled with great wealth (42)
Gilbert[Major Secondary Character] High Council asked him to act as provisional King of Glenmuir until heir to High Seat found because he and his warrior chased the invaders out of the village (54) rode into the village in the heat of the battle (55) stole rupture-endowment; previously known as Ghaltair; been declared a traitor for conspiring against High king (63) sheltered in wilderness of Athdara; wanted to be king of Glenmuir (64) hated Malcolm (66) huge warrior (403)
Glenmuir[Place] peaceful kingdom; had been for hundreds of year; highlanders considered the Shelter Stone Shrine hallowed ground (20)
Golden Ray[Animal] Malcolm's studhorse; liver-chestnut stallion with a silver mane and tale; superb animal (208)
Lady Gwynneth "Wynne"[Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 3] hair, gleaming like spun gold, hung down her back in a long, thick braid; tall, slender body; soft laughter; strikingly beautiful woman; wide-set eyes; full lips; oval face; golden hair; combination of features that have her an appearance men found alluring; essence of summer, warm, cheerful, bright (378) wore shirt, trousers, boots; wore sword and dirk around her waist; a lady of war; twinkling gray eyes; luminous smile (379) Wynne the Seafarer; a Highland seafarer (380) keen sense of fairness (389)
Hag's Field[Place] large plot of ground between king's village and the cloister. Once belonged to old widow whose fields were the most fertile in Glenmuir; King Ido grew jealous because her vegetables and fruits tasted like none other, had warriors removed widow from land so he could live on it; widow cursed the land, had been barren ever since; Ido's first son stillborn; Ido moved from cursed land (53)
King Ido[No Appearance] King of Glenmuir; ruptured Cait's betrothal to Brieve (8) killed during raid (51)
Inga[One Appearance] hand-fasted to Rus (206)
Kolby Ingerssonn[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 4] Michael's best friend // Northman (19) as big and powerful-looking as Michael; dark and forbidding; hair and eyes golden brown (21) Michael's headman (21) trained in blind fighting (29)
Lady Jarvia of Southerland[Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 1] widow to whom Lang had betrothed Michael; requested an honorable rupturing of the betrothal to marry Malcolm (31) Princess (161) kind; beautiful (202) beautiful young woman; hair the color of purest silver, hung in deep waves down her back (209) miscarriage (269) fair; hair hanging softly around her face and down her back, glimmered like the purest silver; lips and cheeks rosy; sparkling eyes framed by long, dark lashes (331) learned in the use of herbs and medicines (332)
Labyrinth Hill[Place] held the Chamber of Fire: place used for ancient worship; place for trials by ordeal (204)
Lachlann mac Niall[No Appearance] Malcolm's best-man; supposedly led raid on Lang's ship and stolen the rupture endowment (32) in the South negotiating with other tribes (215)
Lang[Major Secondary Character] older warrior; as massive and muscular as Michael; Michael's father (29) dark hair, silver at the temples, hung loosely to his shoulders; dark bear; muscular hips and legs (30) tall, burly man; a simple man (34) dark beard streaked with silver (163) massive man; dark hair, sprinkled with silver at the temples, hung loose to his shoulders (164) headstrong; using to having own way (167) chief of the Clan of the Wolf; suffered deeply when wife died; faithful to wife (193)
Lydian Stone Breastpin[Item] an amulet on which engraved directions to find the Gift Chamber and the Secret Chamber in The Shelter Stone Shrine; Sholto carried in brooch he wore; gave to Cait for safekeeping (47)
Magda[Animal] wolf Jarvia rescued; loyal to Catriona (333)
Malcolm mac Duncan[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 1] man that Michael is seeking to restore family honor (31) Highland warrior (31) discovered Gilbert conspired against High King Fergus, then banished Gilbert from kingdom (66) elected High King of Scotland upon Fergus's death (186) breeds ponies (207) has a way with the ponies (208) deep voice (211) Michael's identical twin; predator; radiated power (212) left handed (212) self-confidence that bordered on arrogance (222) 30-y-o (227) Lord of Fire (245) darkly handsome, face a study in rugged angles and planes (274)
Muireall[Important Secondary Character] High Queen Muireall of Northern Scotland: birth mother to Michael and Malcolm // handsome older woman (210) blue eyes, the color of a warm summer day (223) dark brown hair (225) married to Fergus for 10 years (225) age added depth and beauty (226) deep husky voice (277)
Ongus[One Appearance] Gilbert's warrior; one of four sent after priests; killed by Michael (294)
Rath[No Appearance] Gilbert's man; will stay in king's village of Athdara (295)
Rob[Secondary Character] young warrior; short blond hair a mass of curls; Cait's cousin (23) a Silver Dagger; 17-y-o (24) lived at cloister past 12 years since parents killed by brigands (37)
Rudie[One Appearance] high priest of Northern Scotland (211)
Rus[One Appearance] hand-fasted to Inga (206)
Sea Wolf[Ship] Michael's ship (33)
Scully[One Appearance] a clan chief (276)
Secret Chamber[Place] room in The Shelter Stone; only the Ancient of Nights and Day knows location; must hide the treasure there if he feels it is threatened in the Gift Chamber (48)
Shelter Chamber[Place] held gifts that people gave to Silver Daggers for gods of Shelter Stone Shrine (41)
The Shelter Stone[Place] a holy place, a natural stone bridge hewn out of the mountain at the beginning of time by the twin gods Night and Day; pilgrims leave the gods extremely valuable gifts; revered by the Picts, the Scots, the Glenmuirians, the Athdarians, all Highlanders (6)
The Shelter Stone Shrine[Place] a natural rock bridge hewn out of the mountain by time and elements; spanned the Shelter Stone River and waterfall that plunged down the mountain into a deep, richly blue pool of water (37)
Sholto[Major Secondary Character] Cait's adopted father; priest of the shrine (9) high priest and the Ancient of Nights and Days (10) wise man, not given to hasty decisions (26) gaunt face (46) gray eyes (47)
Silver Daggers[Organization] cloister minstrels (8) dedicated to the gods, travel through the land, carrying news and learning about medicine, bartering, sowing, reaping, politics; share knowledge with other, dispense gifts to the needy; tend the sick and dying (10) trained to leave no trace of their presence (11) can move through forest without making a sound or leaving a trail (23)
Silver Prince[Animal] Michael's stallion (158)
The Small Hall[Building] houses Malcolm's personal warriors who are not married (207)
Sven[One Appearance] Michael's man; retrieved scattered ponies (112)
Thor[Term] Northmen's god of thunder and lightening (6)
Treacherous River[Place] dangerous river; Wynne used to deliver Michael and his warriors to Glenmuir (386)
Trevor[Major Secondary Character] Sholto's closest friend; priest of the shrine (9) Sholto's assistant, advisor (38) guardian priest; tall, muscular man; features were angular and solemn; hair white and thinning; kindly and spoke softly; Cait went to him with her troubles (39) good man; dedicated priest (50)
Ulf[Animal] Michael's loyal, ever-at-his-side pet // silver-white wolf (3) exceptionally smart (12) silver-blue gaze (103) rescued Michael from boar when a wolf pup (193)
Veld[Secondary Character] Michael's man; helped with caring for patients (90)

"Lord of Thunder" Quotations
121With every action he was binding her to him, making her his.   No matter how attentive he might be, or tender or interested, she was nothing more than his possession.   . . .   she belonged to him, and he intended to brand her so that all would know.   (Cait)
145". . . one never truly possesses what one takes."   (Michael)
145"respect must be earned and equally shared."   (Michael)
193". . . one day I shall reach a part of you that no one has reached before.   When I do, I shall destroy that shield you hide behind."   (Cait)

"Emma Merritt -- Lord of Thunder" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Emma MerrittNovember 12, 1940 -- October 18, 1995
. . . . . .. . . . . .
4.00 average{1 review}Amazonas of: February 6, 2013 (mine)
--{no reveiws}Barnes & Nobleas of: February 6, 2013
----Compiled by Connie BeckList of Emma Merritt's Books
----Eye On RomanceList of Viking Romance Novels
----Fact FictList of Books In "The Lord and Ladies Quartet"
----Fantastic FictionList of Emma Merritt's Books
----Fiction DBList of Emma Merritt's Books
3.81 average{17 ratings}Good Readsas of: February 6, 2013
--{no reviews}Google Booksas of: February 6, 2013
1.67 average{3 ratings}Library Thingas of: February 6, 2013
3.40 average{9 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: February 6, 2013
----Romance Reader At HeartAuthors of Viking Romance Novels
----RT {Romantic Times} Book ReviewsGood Viking Romance Posting
4.00 average{1 review}Shelfarias of: February 6, 2013 (mine)
3.9002-06-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Lord of Thunder review link to table, just ask

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