My favorite book series - or one of them; I have many - has been Avalon: Web of Magic by Rachel Roberts for years. I discovered it in the third grade or thereabouts when my mother bought me two physical books that consisted of books one through three, then four through six.
The premise is simple: three girls become chosen ones of some type or another, and these differing personalities have to learn how to work together to save another world and the source of magic, Avalon.
It's a story that's been done before and will be done again. But what makes it unique, I think, is something that has stuck with me long after I finished reading the full series a few years ago.
Up until - oh, I'd say eighteen years old? or so - I had never finished the series. I read up until book six and I read it multiple times, a rare honor for the books I read, even when I own them. It's an honor only really shared by Cry of the Icemark, Varjak Paw, A Glory of Unicorns, and old picture books from when I was really little.
Book six was an ending, not quite a cliffhanger but not fully finishing things either. But finally, my urge to finish it was too strong. I reread the first six books and checked out the rest of the series from the library and finished it in a day.
There is a turning point, around the climax. To not give away too many spoilers: the three girls are at the final point, where they save Avalon. There is one last obstacle to overcome. The two girls tempted by the darkness, by evil before - the shooting star and the loner - are arguing, accusing each other of being the one to turn. Perhaps, I thought, the plot twist is that they both are tempted.
That was not the plot twist. Instead, the healer - the girl who has given of herself, who has acted as tape and glue of the group, who has fought to bring them together and who has tried to save everyone she's come across - is the one tempted. For one terrible moment, she has all of the power of those allied with her (because who wouldn't trust someone so generous?) and she is tempted to use it selfishly.
Unlike the groups previously, she does not turn on her companions for more than a moment of temptation. She uses this power selfishly only briefly, feels immensely guilty, and immediately sets it right. Yet, despite the fact that their group - the last chance, after many other groups of three girls (the healer, the warrior, and the shooting star) have failed because someone was tempted by such power - survives and even succeeds in their goal, the healer becomes isolated and alone.
Her friends defend her, of course. Good friends do.
The books are wonderful, and I fully recommend the series; each book is fairly short, so even though there's twelve of them, it's not a massive time commitment.
(Unlike Warrior Cats)
But it is interesting. The healer is the one who has the most power, in the end. She is the one with the ability to connect with others. And this series - even at eighteen!ish - was the first one for me to see really experiment with 'what if a healer becomes evil?'
Even at eight - when I first read it - it took five, six years before I was introduced to the concept of healers being powerful outside of this book, that there is a value in healing that allows healers to have some control, safety, and respect.
The concept of the healer going evil, changing sides, has been with me ever since. Healing being used to hurt instead of heal, the fact that it is possible to simply do the opposite of what your powers naturally incline you to...
And, in the end, it comes down to one simple fact: kindness is a choice.
The healer had chosen, over and over and over again, to be kind. And yes, there was outside interference for when she turned - but for a moment, she chose selfishness. And it was someone else's act of kindness that reminded her of who she had to be, what she had to do. She chose to give up the temptation, to give up what she had - and nobody could have stopped her at this point! She had gotten too much power when she chose, once more, to be kind.
When she made the cycle - they were not the first group to try to save Avalon, only the first group to succeed - break, when she changed the pattern, when she came back to herself... once again, she chose kindness. And even outside of that, her being an outcast lasted a short time.
Because she was kind, others were kind to her. Her friends - the other two in her group - defended her. The people she had healed defended her. It was only the Fairimentals who did not (I know, I'm throwing out new terms like it's going out of style; it's just there's SO MUCH), and even then they came around.
Either way, talking about it, thinking about it...
I think I'm going to give it another read. It's a good one. And, quite frankly, I will forever relate to and adore Emily. Not only is she a healer (the power I'd choose to have), she's kind, she has red hair (I dye my hair red; I love red hair), she's from Colorado (like me), she loves and gets to work with animals, her magical gem is the prettiest...