Monday, 4 March 2013

Review - Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power (Avry of Kazan, #1)


Avry’s power to heal the sick should earn her respect in the plague-torn land of Kazan. Instead she is feared. Her kind are blamed for the horrifying disease that has taken hold of the nation. When Avry uses her forbidden magic to save a dying child, she faces the guillotine. Until a dark, mysterious man rescues her from her prison cell. His people need Avry’s magic to save their dying prince. The very prince who first unleashed the plague on Kazan.

Saving the prince is certain to kill Avry – yet she already faces a violent death. Now she must choose – use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause?

Amazon UK

Wow. Maria V. Snyder includes everything that makes a great high fantasy: a detailed, believable fantasy world, a gripping plot, likeable characters – and a highly original take on magic. I can honestly say this is unique!

Avry’s world has recently been stricken by a plague which has killed two thirds of the population, and the blame for starting it has fallen on the magical healers. As a healer, Avry has a bounty on her head, and has to live on the run. When she is caught after healing a sick child, she faces death – but is rescued by a man named Kerrick who wants her to heal someone for him. The problem is, the person in question is that she has every reason to hate Prince Ryne - and healing him will mean her death.

I was hooked from the first page. Maria V. Snyder has a gripping narrative style which pulls you in and refuses to let you go – it certainly isn’t dense like some high fantasy, and the action is high throughout. I found the world she created really interesting, and I love the idea that magic doesn’t make one all-powerful, and magicians are actually worth more dead than alive. The rules are clearly defined: in using their healing powers, healers take on the injuries themselves. This made for a more balanced view of magic and I liked the fact that the magic-users are ordinary people rather than all-powerful magicians.

I liked Avry’s narrative voice. She’s strong even though she’s suffered, losing her family to the plague and being persecuted for her powers, and she proves easy to root for. I found Kerrick an interesting character as his behaviour at first is appalling, but gradually you begin to see why he is the way he is, and to see a different side to his character. Snyder creates a team of likeable characters and some shady villains, but shows that there’s more than one side to everyone, and that people aren’t necessarily what they seem.

I think I’ve found a new favourite author to add to my list. I loved this book, and it’s a must for every fantasy fan. I’ve just received a free copy of the sequel, Scent of Magic, from Netgalley, and I’ll be diving in right away!

Rating: ****1/2*

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