Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power
Maria V. Snyder
Healer #1
Published December 20, 2011 by Mira
Young adult traditional fantasy

Bite-Sized Review
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.

King-Sized Review
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.

Quality: Acceptable
Enjoyability: Good

In the same aisle
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith


  1. LOL Kate. I HAD to go check out the "evil overlord" list and I definitely snickered at some of the items. Poor baddie in this book. I'm a sucker for a villain - but a GOOD villain, and none of this "oooh I'm so evil." I like my villains ambiguous, terribly charming, and quietly evil.

    This one sounds like a good read, but probably one I'd be more apt to check out at the library than buy. Thanks for the review! Yours are also so logical and in-depth. :)

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    1. Thanks! I've been trying to be less "I like the characters" and more "The characters were fully three-dimensional with interesting and different personalities," so I'm happy to hear it's working a little bit! =D

      I completely agree with you about villains! Ambiguity is much more interesting than plain old evil! It's more genuine as well.

  2. This was the fist book by Maria V. Snyder that I have read, but I enjoyed it. I know she has a loyal following of readers.

    1. Her books are pretty good, I think. I enjoy them, but at the same time, I've been reading epic fantasy since I was about twelve, so those always have a lot to live up to :P

  3. I remember that Evil Overlord list from a while back. I thought it was hilarious back then so it was really nice to be reminded. :)

    I think I'm the only person in the world who hasn't read the Study series. I really liked Inside Out and Outside In, but could never get into Poison Study. I'm sorry that the story was predictable. I see more and more of that. Or maybe it's just that I read too much so it's pretty hard to surprise me.
    Wonderful review, Kate.
    Maja @ The Nocturnal Library


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