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Ever since I read and fell in love with her Poison Study series, Maria V Snyder has remained a favourite author of mine. Just like the rest of her books, A touch of power was a brilliant, intriguing and intensely magical read that is the start of what promises to be yet another fantastical series.
The story follows Avry, a twenty year old girl who has spent the last three years living life on the run. Ever since the great plague spread through the land, those blessed with the gift of healing have been blamed and persecuted for the unstoppable disease. Now as the world's last healer, Avry's only goal is survival.
But when she is rescued from the guillotine by a band of rouges, she trades one death sentence for another when she is tasked with curing a Prince from the last ravages of the plague - A feat Avry knows that even with her magical powers, she will not survive. However with the nobility fighting for power, the fate of the fifteen realms remains uncertain and Avry must make a choice. Travel to the other side of the world, to save the man who brought about the demise of her people? Or live the rest of her life hunted for what she is? But with war looming, Avry must quickly learn just who, and what is worth dying for...
This book really is fantastic. A high fantasy novel, it blends together elements of drama, intrigue, magic and self-sacrifice. With vivid descriptions and unique characters, A touch of Power takes the reader on an epic adventure making it a truly riveting read that had me transfixed up until they very end.
Avry is a great protagonist. Brave and kind hearted, she is also smart with a sharp and sarcastic wit. I loved the way she baits and undermines Kerrick. With his depth and dark edge, he hides been a cold mask of uncaring but I really enjoyed watching their feelings for each other develop. For me Maria V Snyder remains the queen of slow-burn romances and watching her characters fall reluctantly in love was simply delicious.
However the other characters were also unique individuals - each one bringing a new element or twist to the story. Flea and Belen were particular favourites of mine and I loved the close-family feeling the group formed on their journey.
The plot is gripping and holds some intriguing concepts and ideas such as the death and peace lilies, and I'm also curious as to the source of the Plague. I really can't wait for the next book! What with the adventure of this story fully concluded, it left just enough questions unanswered and hinted at plenty of drama to come to keep me wanting more.
Never once did this book drag for me and I happily devoured it all in one night. Utterly fantastical, A Touch of Power is easily a 5 star read!
About the book
Touch of Power is the first book in the new Avry of Kazan series by Maria V. Snyder. It was published by Mira on 20th December 2011 and the book is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured 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....
What I thought
Although I have other books by this author, I have yet to read them - which now I think is very unfortunate. As soon as the emailed arrived about this book though, I got excited. It sounded completely different than the other books I have been reading recently and I was desperate for something else.
Touch of Power begins full of excitement, instantly hooking me into the story. Avry, the main character, is a healer. While this should be a good thing, it isn't. People hate healers, blaming them for the plague and the state the world is currently in. The is a price on the head of any healer which means Avry is constantly on the run. At the point where the book starts, Avry is staying with a family who have an extremely sick child. She knows she shouldn't use her powers to heal the child but Avry can't help herself. Unfortunately, while the family are grateful, they have no problem ratting her out. After being captured, being prepared to die, Avry is rescued by a group of travellers who want her to use her power to heal a Prince, whom she hates.
From here, I understood just how much of an amazing character Avry was. Although she had just been rescued and saved from death, she refuses to go along with what the travellers want. She hates the Prince in question and flat out refuses to heal him, no matter what. Avry is feisty, strong and extremely clever, knowing that she is only being used. As she spends more time with the group of travellers, being dragged around for miles and miles, she gets more used to them, getting to know them. Finally, she finds friends in Loren, Quain, Flea and Belen. She teaches them things in return for being taught how to fight and how to handle a set of daggers. The only person she cannot bring herself to like, or even stand, is Kerrick.
I really didn't like Kerrick for the majority of this book. Even as the main male character, I hated him. He was rude, arrogant and especially mean to Avry. Unlike the others in his group, he showed no respect for Avry whatsoever and expected her to do what he wanted without even as much as a good reason. Or even saying please. Avry had no problem showing her hatred for Kerrick either and I loved her for that. As the story went on though, I found myself liking him more and more and I really didn't want to. There were tiny little moments where I could see something change in him and I could see why he acted in certain ways and the reasons behind his toughness.
Not only is there a whole range of fantastic characters to get to know and love but also a very serious side to the story. With the fifteen kingdoms in trouble, there is a lot about the politics of the realm but it is never too much. I quite enjoyed learning about the different power struggles, the ways in which people thought they could make everything better and also wondering to myself who I think would be best in charge of everything. Once there were different rulers of different parts of the land but due to the current situation, things went from bad to worse and with Prince Ryne unable to move, Tohon has taken it upon himself to rule everything.
The parts of the story concerning Tohon were amazing. He is the epitome of evil and one of the best bad guys I have read about in a long time. Not wanting to ruin the story, I will say that Tohon has powers of his own and these make him into the great bad guy that he really is. There was something about this character that made my skin crawl, that made me want to hit him over the head with something and knock him out. Still, I loved him. He made the book a lot more interesting and a lot more exciting, even with so much going on already.
As well as a lot of excitement, there are also a few mysteries to be solved. Secrets are hidden all over the place in this book and I loved being kept waiting for answers, while being impatient for them at the same time. Avry has been on the run for years and has no idea what has become of most of her family. Why does she hate Prince Ryne so much? Why is Kerrick the way he is? What was the real cause of the plague and why are healers hated so much? Maria V. Snyder really throws in everything possible to make this an amazing book. There is love, death, hatred and passion as well as intrigue and mystery. I loved every single page of this one!!