Touch of Power [ Healer # 1 ] by Maria V. Snyder0
Title: Touch of Power
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publication Date: December 20th, 2011
Rating: 4 stars
Avry is a selfless healer with a pure heart who is rescued from execution by a band of rogues. By rescued, of course, I mean kidnapped, as they intend to use her to heal Prince Ryne, whose body has been frozen in time to prevent the plague from killing him. The leader of the group – Kerrick – claims that Ryne is the only hope to put the Fifteen Realms back together, stop the fighting over who should rule, and make things right ever since the plague. Although Kerrick can be an asshole, especially if Avry is insulting Ryne (he’s very, very obsessed), these rogues are actually quite nice, so it’s not surprising that Avry becomes attached to them and learns to enjoy their company. They are a very close group and Avry slowly becomes an integral member of their makeshift family, which was very lovely to read.
I did love this book, but part of me loves it most for what it could have been. I’m used to elaborate fantasy novels ala George R. R. Martin, and so I wanted more – more political intrigue, more information on the workings of the government, a reason to root for Ryne over Tohon (and Kerrick’s man-crush on him isn’t enough to convince me that Ryne is going to be the greatest ruler ever), and perhaps a bit more world-building. Still, the fact that I wanted more did not majorly detract from my enjoyment of the novel, because I became so attached to the world and characters that I just filled in the blanks in my head!
My favorite characters were the villains. Tohon is our main antagonist, and he has the ability to compel people and control emotions, which he uses against Avry quite a bit. I was worried that he was going to become a love interest, but I think (please tell me I’m right) we dodged that bullet. Tohon is a terrible person with the hobbies of experimenting on children and using his powers in dastardly ways. This guy also has a very loose definition of consent, and I think he’s a little bit crazy.
The other villain I adore is Jael, Kerrick’s ex-fiance. She’s a bit of a warrior, has the power to control air (meaning she can literally take your breath away), and is power-hunger, manipulative, and has a huge ego. She appeared only for a short amount of time, and I cannot wait to see her more. She, Tohon, Kerrick, and Ryne all went to school together, and so they have backstory that is touched upon and that I am absolutely obsessed with. Oh, and Tohon is obsessed with her, and more than anything else, I want them to get together and wreak havoc!
But I digress.
Avry does dislike Kerrick at first, but they do, as expected, fall for each other. This is not in any way a case of insta-love, and it organically develops in a way I can really appreciate. I actually quite like their relationship, although I will miss the more tense and angry relationship that they began with. Just as their relationship was expected, however, I found some of the plot developments to be somewhat predictable. I actually think I called pretty much every twist, all the way up to the ending.
There was a bit of a problem with pacing, as well, with exploring taking up the bulk of the novel and actual plot developments speeding by too quickly. We would have a chapter that would encompass a month, and then a chapter that encompassed only a day, so it was a bit difficult to understand the way time passed. The ending also wrapped some things up a bit too neatly and conveniently, which might be one of my largest gripes, and for which I docked the rating by half a point.
All in all, this was a good start to the series, and it set the stage for what is to come. The next installment will undoubtedly expand the backstory, the world, and tie up a few plots with the characters. I hope we will get to know the characters better, get more interaction between the old schoolmates (there is some serious obsession between these guys), and learn more about the political workings of the Fifteen Realms. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book – Scent of Magic – which is due later this year, and you'll definitely see a review from me.