Author: Maria V. Snyder (author website)
Release Date: 20th Dec. 2011
Age Group: Young Adult/Adult
Uhhhh, WOW! Move over Across the Universe and Shatter Me, I have a new favourite book of 2011 (don’t worry, I still love you. It’s a shared first place). Magical, gripping, and compulsively readable, Maria V. Snyder’s Touch Of Power offers a brave heroine, multi-faceted characters, fantasy, and seriously, what more could you ask for?
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...
Three years ago, plague tore through the Fifteen Kingdoms, decimating the population, destroying governments and kingdoms, and shaking the world to its very foundations. Avry of Kazan is a Healer. Laying her hands on the sick and injured, she heals by absorbing the ailment of a patient into her own body, where she recovers at a ten times the speed of a normal person. But rather than being grateful for her gift, people want her dead. Her kind are captured and executed... because they’ve been blamed for spreading the plague.
Finally caught after three years on the run, Avry is almost relieved to be captured. But as she awaits execution in her prison cell, she’s sprung by a small band of rogues. They offer her freedom in exchange for a simple task... heal a dying prince. Avry has her own reasons for refusing... the least of which being she’ll die in the attempt...
YOU GUYS. JUST... OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Words fail me.
It’s no secret I’m a BIG Maria V. Snyder fan. Up until this point, I’d still though Poison Study was her finest work to date, but Touch of Power offers it a serious run for its money. So many things are SO good about this book.
The Leading Lady:In Avry, Snyder’s given birth to yet another inspirational heroine. A victim and a survivor (Maria V. Snyder has a major recurring theme going on in her work with this kind of girl), Avry has special powers, true, but her real power is her grit, resolve, and inner core of strength. Avry is never a damsel in distress. She’s intelligent, deliciously sarcastic, and self-reliant. Avry makes mistakes, and yes, gets rescued a couple of times, but boy can she take care of herself. This is the kind of heroine I read for.
The Gang:Maria V. Snyder has a real flair for creating fabulous ‘side’ characters. Touch Of Power is no exception, with characters like Belan, Flea, Quain and Vinn that bring it to life. They dance across the pages and wriggled their way under my skin. I wound up caring for this bunch every inch as much as the leads. I loved the banter between Avry and the group she’s assimilated into.
The Big Bad:Touch Of Power boasts a deliciously deranged baddie, as well as an array of foes and foils of varying degrees of threat, moral ambiguity and danger. Snyder has an incredible knack for writing utterly despicable female characters. You’ll find out what I’m talking about (mwahahaha!).
But let's talk about the big bad, shall we? Turns out the most powerful magician in a world full of magic also happens to be pathologically insane, and a king. Much like Warner in this year's AMAZING Shatter Me, King Tohon is seven different shades of batsh*t crazy. He seems to want what's best for the people of the world as whole, but doesn't give a damn about anyone other than himself on an individual level. Or perhaps he's just using the promise of a better world to further his own agenda. He's brilliant, manipulative, self-serving and narcissistic, but is capable of real charm... Uh, wait, writing this down, dude sounds like a textbook psychopath, huh? He's awful... and so, so fun to hate.
The Kerrick:And Kerrick, my word! (Kerrick! Kerrick! Kerrick! Kerrick! Kerrick! <3) I wanted to slap him silly. Prickly, stubborn, bossy and... wait, he’s not sounding very loveable, is he? Just wait. You’ll see. Despite his (many) failings, I grew to love this character.
And instalove? You guys hate the instant fall into love thing, right? Well this its antithesis. The romantic subplot that builds (slowly) throughout this book is a long journey, and a joy to witness. Snyder has this nailed.
The Verdict:Once again, Maria V. Snyder has created an exquisitely realised world, brimming with excitement, magic and intrigue. The sharp, funny, sarcastic banter between the party of heroes is a delight, and from page the first, Touch Of Power is filled with fights, flight and action. I’ve said this before, but fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire will lap up Snyder’s Study series, and Touch Of Power even more so. Fast-paced, alluring fantasy that's almost appallingly entertaining, Touch Of Power is one of those books that will worm its way into your brain and leave you wandering around the gorgeous verdant forest with its heroes long after the final page is turned.
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