Touch of Power - Maria V. Snyder What a lot of you may not know is that when I won signed copies of Snyder's Study series--how lucky was I?--I devoured them consecutively. Since then, I've been wanting to read another Snyder novel no matter what. When I heard about Touch of Power, I knew I'd have to read as soon as possible in order to get my fix. What shocked me the most about the first book in her new Healer series was how similar it was to Poison Study. Yes, it is a whole new batch of characters, with as intricate a setting and world as Ixia and all the other nations in the Study series, but it resembled the previous series so much I fell in love all over again. What? Did you honestly expect me to say it was a BAD thing?

Avry has always been proud of the powers she matured into during her teenage years. However, now 20, she has been on the run for three years to escape the hostility and accusations from the people of the Fifteen Realms. Her one weakness when it came to staying hidden and surviving manifested itself into the form of a sick child whose piercing cries cut through any hesitance Avry had of using her power. Being a healer in a world where they're executed, it's easy enough to figure out what not to do in order to avoid capture. However, what comes with being a healer is an innate will to heal all that are ill. When Avry's captured and sentenced to her execution, she is surprised by the mysterious band of men that break her out for the sole purpose that they need her magical help. Soon she learns that surviving and living are two different ways of living, but when she finds out who and what she will face at the end of the long journey, she may not be willing to stay with the men after all...

Plot: While there was rising action and falling action, I can't officially say that Touch of Power had just one climax. One of the many things I like about Snyder's books is that you can pick one of numerous peaks to be the most surprising, enticing, daring, shocking. The core of this book can be captured in two words: the plague. I know I didn't mention this above, but it's because of the outbreak of this pandemic plague that the healer's have been hunted down. When Avry joins Kerrick's rogue men on their journey, she finds out she may be the last healer alive. I'd hoped to find out more about the Fifteen Realms and the survivors of the plague but Touch of Power essentially focused on the constant movement through the forest and woods and the actual journey for the majority. Another aspect of Snyder's writing that makes me keep flipping the pages is that by the time you get to the halfway point, you feel like you've grown to know the characters so well, there's no possible way there could be more to the story.
The relationship between Avry and Kerrick grows to be more tumultous than I could have ever predicted but was amusing to read about nonetheless. The tension between those two, I tell ya....Kerrick has a temper like no other and knows what he wants and how to go about getting it. It comes as no surprise that he is the leader of men five years older than him.
As for the relations between the other men in Kerrick's crew, they were all I wanted them to be and more. 'Course two of my favorites had to be Poppa Bear Belen and over-energetic Flea.
The only thing I'm iffy about when it comes to the Fifteen Realms and all their glory are the Lilies. The Peace and Death Lilies could have been better portrayed as the significant figures they're made out to be in the book.

Characters: I honestly can't focus on each character that played a significant role because there were quite a few and I have tons of thoughts about each of them. Some can kiss my beautiful behind and others I'd like to train from, morally and physically. As the heroine protagonist, Avry of Kazan had a nonchalant attitude that was surprising because of it's effective to cause reactions in the people around her. She looked at her problems logically and matter-of-factly while still keeping an aura of nurturing that completed who she was. Kerrick could be aggravating at the best of times and downright cruel at the worst. He hides his heart well and only shows any sign of caring for others through his actions for his men.

Writing: It is not so much the descriptive prose or witty banter between characters that captures the essence of Touch of Power. It is more the syntax and ability to culminate that truly ensnares the reader to not be able to put the book down. At least, that's what happened with me. And I couldn't get enough of it in just the first sitting, I had to keep going. The originality was put into question when the tone resembled the Study series but it was not an issue with me, and ended up being one of the many things I loved about Touch of Power and the start of the Healer series.

Grade: A

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