Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review - Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder

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....

I recently got Scent Of Magic, the sequel to Touch Of Power.  I’ve been dying to read it since I first finished ToP, but I realized that I’d forgotten most of this novel.  Since I never wrote a full review for it, I felt like that was the perfect excuse to revisit and reread it.

Maybe the fact that I couldn’t remember much more than the basic plot after only a year was a sign that it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered, or maybe it was a case of wrong timing.  All I know is that, the second time around, I wasn’t nearly as excited by this book and its characters as I was originally.  I liked it still, and I do look forward to continuing the journey with Scent Of Magic, but I can’t say I loved it like I originally did.

Okay first of all, I have a legitimate question.  Does anyone know why the plural for the death or life lily is always “lilys”, not “lilies”?  I didn’t notice it the first time, but this time every time I came across that spelling I’d drift away from the rest of the paragraph and wonder if there’s an actual reason for it – like maybe to differentiate the peace and death lilys from actual, real-life lilies – or if it was just a misspelling that got overlooked in editing.  Whether it was done by mistake or by design, that constant drifting off took me out of the story way too often, and is probably a large contributor to my lackluster reread.  (But seriously, if anyone knows the actual reason for this, let me know.  It’s driving the grammar nazi in me crazy.)

Avry is a Healer, the last of her kind.  She’s on the run for her life, since it’s believed that Healers started the devastating plague that killed so many.  Early on, she’s caught and Kerrick and his men rescue her…before taking her prisoner so she’ll heal their Prince, who has been put into a magical stasis after catching the plague.  To heal him would mean death for Avry, who has some serious grievances with the  prince to begin with.  Avry’s relationship with the boys, especially their leader, is rocky at first, but slowly it takes on a familial dynamic, complete with (very) slow-building romance.  There’s not a whole lot of hidden depth to the novel, as a few other reviewers have pointed out, but if you’re reading it for that storyline, you get what you go in for.

There are so many things about it that I liked.  (Ironically, those lilys-or-lilies is one of the main ones.  The idea and how it ties in so perfectly with the plot is just so cool.)  There’s nothing overly original about the big picture of the plot, but it’s not cliché or a giant rip-off, either.  It follows a common high fantasy formula of feuding monarchs and land disputes set to a backdrop of magic and a medieval-esque setting, but there is something undeniably fresh and unique about it.  With the exception of the Healers, the magic system isn’t too deep, but it works.  The writing is good, and the characters are likeable enough.

Which, I think, is the root of my problem with the novel.  Reread that last paragraph and tell me, aside from the “lilys”, is there anything about it that screams enthusiasm or excitement?  Anything that would propel the novel from “good” to “great”?  There was very little that I actively disliked about the book, but most of what I liked coasted along as “average” and “nice enough”.  This is also probably why I had trouble remembering much about it months after my first read.  There just wasn’t anything that stuck out and grabbed me.  (In fact, if I’m brutally honest, I’m finding myself again forgetting a lot of the novel unless I really think about it or refer to my notes.)

I still don’t know if my mixed feelings now are due to timing or me being more critical after months of active blogging and reviewing.  I’d recommend it to fans of high fantasy, but I doubt I’ll be pushing this book to the same extent as I was pre-reread.

Touch Of Power - 3 out of 5 stars


  1. It's possible that the "lilys" thing was a missed editing mistake. It happens even in the big-time published books. I didn't even catch it when I was reading. Ha.

    I think I liked Scent of Magic just a hair better. More action anyway. Though the ending was a bit meh and there were some annoyances. Hope you enjoy!


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