Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Healer #1
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs 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 Fifteen Realms, 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 .
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Yay, a new book from Maria V. Synder!! I’ve been a devoted fan since I happened upon Poison Study when it first came out and I’m always excited when she has something new on the shelves. I’m pleased to report that Touch of Power lived up to my (very) high expectations!
Touch of Power is set in a world where two-thirds of the population has been decimated by a plague. Healers have been blamed for the plague and there’s a bounty on any remaining healers three years later. In a moment of weakness, Avry uses her gifts to save a child and she’s captured and slated to die when she’s rescued by Kerrick, a mysterious stranger who seems better than certain death. Not the most resounding endorsement, and it sets the tone of the initial interactions between Avry and Kerrick and his merry men. Each of Kerrick’s men is interesting but my favourites are Flea for his youthful exuberance and devotion and Belen for his Poppa Bear-ness.
Avry is a great character and I’m excited to see a series built around her. She’s the kind of character you can like and respect: she has honour and integrity, and the desire to do right by people, no matter the danger to herself. It gets her into trouble sometimes but, hey, that’s what makes a story interesting, right? But it leaves Avry in a tough spot — people want her alive, people want her dead, she’s not fully trained because the plague struck before she graduated but she tries her best to use the little knowledge she has. It makes Avry an interesting mix of confidence and fear.
Kerrick is a great foil for Avry. He’s pretty stoic at first, dedicated to his men and his quest, but he gradually reveals more of himself over the course of the novel, and proves himself to be a worthy companion for Avry.
The series’ mythology is fantastic. Magic is an accepted part of the world but there aren’t many magicians left since the plague. There are a variety of types of magic. We see some, since some of the characters are earth, air, and life magicians, plus there’s Avry’s healing magic, but there are a host of other types that we haven’t seen much of. I hope we’ll learn more about the magics in the next novel. I also hope the nature of the Lilies is explored a bit more in the next book since they provide some really neat moments in the plot.
As always, Maria V. Snyder has delivered a solid fantasy novel filled with adventure, betrayal, and a hint of romance. I almost feel bad for Avry since the next story is sure to be more of the same.