Age: Young Adult
Interest: Maria V. Snyder/ Netgalley Request/ Healer
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... (summary from goodreads.com)
I love Maria V. Snyder and I like her books. However... she has this tendency to write very long books. Touch of Power, while good, felt like running an endurance marathon. It just kept going and going to the point where I looked at where I was in the book on my kindle and was shocked that I was only 57% done. I had been reading for hours, it was a little discouraging. While the novel was huge, and some scenes felt every bit of that massive length, other parts felt like they were sped along for almost no reason at all. Specifically, there's a part where the main character has been captured and her first two to three weeks there are completely glossed over in a page or so.
I loved the main character Avry. (Aside from the fact that I absolutely love all healers and empaths.) She was strong, cunning, funny and would not give up. Seeing the story from her side, as someone who was the accused, instead of the accuser, was interesting. I'm sure if the story had been written from anyone else's point of view, Avry would have been regarded completely different than from how she actually was. I found that completely fascinating. Maybe if the story had been told the story from 2 points of view, there would have been a broader scope of what was happening through all the kingdoms and maybe the book wouldn't have felt quiet as lengthy.
There was definitely some characters I loved in the novel and some I really despised. Except for one or two characters, you can immediately tell which characters you will like and which ones you will not. For the most part, all of them are exactly as they appear.
The idea that a healer can take away the sickness, pain or injury from one person, but has to take it in to themselves is fascinating. I'm a big fan of what Fullmetal Alchemist calls the law of equivalent exchange. "Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost." That idea has always been so interesting to me. Avry has this amazing ability to bring people back from the brink of death and seal up a horrible wound with a wish. She has power over life. Yet, she's extraordinarily vulnerable because she has to survive her patient's afflictions. Even though she heals at ten times the rate of a normal person, Avry's still in jeopardy. She willingly self-sacrifices and puts herself on the line for people she barely nows and I find that so spectacular.
Another thing I've noticed, at least with reading Poison Study last year and Touch of Power this year is that the books have pretty much the same formula or "circumstances." This isn't a bad thing, it's just distracting to keep seeing similarities in two books by the same author written years apart. 1) Both star outcast girls who are despised for their magic 2) Both have strong, stand-offish, tough male leads 3) Both have a band of men and a few women that rally around the main girl 4) Both have captures, jailing and weapons training 5) Both are high fantasy worlds divided into realms 6) Both involve orphans 7) Both involve political unrest I could go on, but I think you get the point. Some of the more minor characters are even carbon copies of other minor characters. This was part of the reason I marked the book so low, it felt like reading the same book, only slightly longer and with different names.
Despite all of the similarities with one of Snyder's earlier novels, Touch of Power manages to hold its own as a good high fantasy story. I would recommend this for fantasy lovers or established fans of Maria V. Snyder. Adults could read this book too, it's one of those multi-generational books. It works well as a teen book and it works well for adults too. This is definitely an interesting series that I and others should watch out for.
Teaser Line #1: " Sorry. An overdeveloped nurturing instinct comes with being a healer."
Teaser #2: "The heart is a strange beast and not ruled by logic."