Touch of Power
Maria V. Snyder
Published December 20, 2011 by Mira
Young adult traditional fantasy
Touch of Power was a pretty good book overall. With a very basic but effective magic system, logical explanations, and interesting characters, I quite enjoyed this story.
After the Plague devastated the population and governments of the Fifteen Realms, people blamed the healers for refusing to save them. Avry of Kazan has been in hiding ever since, but when she sees people suffering from illnesses she could cure, she can't help but step in. For three years, she's been moving from place to place, never staying long enough to get caught, but this time, she didn't move quickly enough. Only instead of execution, her arrest leads to her unwillingly falling in with a band of soldiers who need her to heal someone important to them. In Avry's hands lies the fate of kingdoms...
Touch of Power was a good, solid book, if not a great one. Although it had a lot of obvious parallels to Snyder's Study series – the relationship between the main characters, a pair of soldiers as comic relief, the outlawing of the main character's magic – there were enough differences that the story didn't seem like just Poison Study in disguise. Plus Poison Study was a good story, so there's really nothing to complain about with these similarities.
Avry of Kazan made a good protagonist. Compassionate, stubborn, and smart, she had the personality that made sharing her perspective a pleasure rather than a trial. The development of her relationship with Kerrick was also very good, although I could have done without him hitting her early on. At any rate, the tension between them was very believable – so believable, in fact, that the situation seemed a little too quickly resolved in the end. But only a little.
Our villain, Tohon, could have used a read of the Evil Overlord list. I think every mistake he made was catalogued in that hilarious guide. I also wish he had a little more backstory or a more relatable motivation than a desire to rule the world. That's kind of old.
None of the "twists" in ToP came as any real surprise, which was a little disappointing. The story could also have been very much more emotional than it was. All Avry goes through in this book, particularly the events regarding people close to her, could have been much more gripping than it was. As it stands, I actually remember being surprised at how little I felt during certain scenes. That's one element where Poison Study definitely does better than ToP.
One odd observation – the writing was sprinkled with modern colloquialisms that were rather jarring in this medieval-esque world. "Guys" doesn't really fit into this story, and neither does "okay." These are minor things, but it's exactly those kinds of things that make a world feel genuine. Just a little more attention to detail would have made this book seem a lot more real.
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