Touch of Power (Healer #1) — Maria V. Snyder

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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…

For fans of Maria V. Snyder, especially her Study series, Touch of Power is a must read. Avry is one of the last remaining Healers in the Territories — perhaps, even, the very last. Healers, once respected and revered, are now hunted as they are blamed for the inception of the plague the has left so many dead. But there are some who still need Healers, like Kerrick and his merry band of rogues. Kerrick needs Avry to heal Prince Ryne, who is being kept in a magically induced stasis to prevent the prince from dying from the plague. But there are many who will do anything to stop Avry from healing Ryne. Little do they know, Avry doesn’t even want to heal Ryne and she makes it absolutely clear that who she heals is completely her own decision. With such high stakes, it is imperative that Kerrick convince Avry that Ryne is worth saving, which proves difficult as Avry and Kerrick hate each other.

Snyder transports us to yet another new world in Touch of Power. Her descriptions are crisp and powerful so that her words really bring this world to life. This book covers a long period of time, which means Snyder has plenty of time to explore the Territories and the politics surrounding each aspiring ruler. Each persons’ motivations behind wanting to rule is fascinating. The would-be rulers all have flaws. Major flaws. This makes it easy to sympathize with Avry’s conflicting thoughts and emotions. She doesn’t know what the right thing to do is, but she feels pressure from so many forces to do something. I admire that she refuses to compromise her beliefs throughout the entire novel. A huge burden rests on her shoulders and she takes it very, very seriously, despite some chances at an easy way out.

This book is full of intrigue and suspense. The mystery of the plague gripped me from the very beginning and I was dying for answers up until the very last page. Then there’s the mystery of Kerrick — why does he so wholeheartedly believe Prince Ryne is the best hope for the future and what secret is Avry hiding that sets her so against healing Ryne? Even as questions are answered, more and more crop up, leaving you frantically flipping pages until you reach the last one, at which point you want to shake the book up and down, hoping for more pages to fall out. That’s how powerful this plot is. There’s just so much to it — you’ll get so caught up in the intrigue of this world that the characters’ problems start to feel like your own. You won’t want answers, you’ll need answers. Luckily, this book provides just enough that you won’t feel jilted at the end, though you will be dying for the sequel.

As far as protagonists go, Avry is supremely likable. She’s such a genuinely good person, stubborn, sassy, and uncompromising in her beliefs, though still willing to listen to reason. As a Healer, she puts others’ lives before her own, which is why she refuses to be coerced into healing anyone. When she heals, it’s her decision because it affects her life. I also love her stubborn streak. She isn’t afraid to stand up to literally anyone, which often gets her in trouble, but also works in her favor. Half the time. Maybe. She’s a heroine I respect immensely and probably my favorite of Snyder’s characters to date.

The supporting cast is absolutely amazing. Kerrick is a complicated, captivating character. His relationship with Avry is tumultuous and unpredictable. Every conversation between the two of them held my complete attention. Kerrick’s best friend, Belen, is instantly lovable and completely deserving of Avry’s nickname of “Poppa Bear.” He’ll defend his friends, or “cubs,” until his dying breath. Flea, Quain, and Vinn make up the rest of Kerrick’s group of rogues, and their charming and hysterical in their own ways. Each distinct personality brings something new to the table and makes you feel as if you’re becoming part of a family the entire time you’re reading. The light campfire conversations will bring an unconscious smile to your face.

Touch of Power is full of action, mysterious, intricate plots, and exciting new characters. It’s a wonderful addition to Snyder’s repertoire and, in my opinion, one of her best books so far. I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

Pages: 392
Publication Date : December 2011
Publisher: Mira
Challenge: N/A
Rating [rating: 4.5]

Teaser Quote: Kerrick flung me at him. “Watch her. Quain, you’re with me.” He pulled his sword and left with Quain right behind him.

In the tense silence, Vinn studied me. “I’m watching. Are you going to do any tricks?”

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