Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

February 5, 2013 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Touch of Power by Maria V. SnyderTouch of Power (Avry of Kazan #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Published: 1st December 2012 by HarlequinTeen
Format: Paperback, 390 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince —leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....

A thrilling adventure set in a dangerous new world, Snyder delivers an awesome read in Touch of Power, the first instalment in her new fantasy series. Having loved the Study series so much, I was a bit wary of reading this book because I thought it couldn’t get any better. I was wrong!

Touch of Power is full of action and thrilling in the trademark way of Snyder’s novels. There aren’t any lulls in the plot and everything moved at a great pace. Character defining moments and emotional sequences are cleverly interspersed throughout the book and I think it works really well. It is very easy to get lost in the story and develop an emotional connection to the characters.

Comparisons between Avry and Yelena, and Kerrick and Valek, are inevitable, but I will stress that readers shouldn’t approach this book expecting the same interactions with the names replaced. Avry is empathetic and less prone to impulsive actions than Yelena, and because she is a healer, tends to put everyone else’s needs before her own. Her values as a healer are always at the forefront of everything she does – for example, even though she learns to handle weapons, she never uses them to kill. Snyder always creates wonderful, relatable characters, and Avry is no exception. She saves herself in many situation, and once even saves Kerrick, the hardened leader of the merry band of trouble-makers she ends up with.

Kerrick was a surprise because of how he treats Avry in the beginning. If he needs a healer so badly, he should be nicer to her to encourage her to stay and help him. He actually hit Avry, and the reader is meant to just overlook it when he becomes a love interest. Yes, Tohan is equally repulsive because his powers rendered Avry incapable of saying no, but I didn’t like how everyone, including Kerrick, Avery and the author, just ignored the fact that this man had hit her, and then they fell in love without ever really discussing the incident.

I think the world building is solid in this book and internally consistent – the elements are masterfully woven into the main action of the story, so there are no boring info-dumps or long conversations where everything is explained to a particularly dim character. It makes sense that Avry would be ignorant of the political state of her world given that she has been on the run for her life for years. The only thing I found a little odd was the boarding school where all the heirs of each realm attended, but I guess it’s like Eton in our world?

This brings me to my next point: sometimes the characters, especially Kerrick’s gang, used phrases or slang that I am sure  wouldn’t have developed organically in their world, but do occur frequently in ours. To give two examples – “Thanks, guys. I love you too.” and “clay-caked clothes are so last year“.

But over all Touch of Power is thoroughly enjoyable and I really liked it. I think it’s a great start to the series, and will be reading the sequel, Scent of Magic, very soon. Fans of the Study series will enjoy Maria’s new book immensely, and those new to her works will find that this is the perfect place to start.

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