Monday, January 16, 2012
Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Tags: fantasy, magic
After a devastating plague and war, Avry is the last surviving Healer, a person with the abilities to absorb others’ pains and injuries unto themselves. Every day her life is in danger from people who, resentful of the Healers who did not heal the population during the deadly plague, want to annihilate the rest who survived.
After several years of hiding, Avry is captured by a group who want her to heal the prince of another territory. Avry struggles with duty—her job as Healer compels her to treat all injuries and patients equally—and desire—will healing the prince bring about more pain and destruction in the war between the Territories? But as former rulers emerge from the ruins of the Territories and reamass magical armies, Avry realizes that her ability may make her extremely desirable to all her enemies.
I always long to get my hands on the newest Maria Snyder novel. With exciting premises and beautiful covers, they always look so full of promise! Unfortunately, TOUCH OF POWER was a disappointment to me. Nondescript characters and a seemingly endless adventure-plot led to an exhausting read that was overwhelming yet unfulfilling.
Good things first: as always, Snyder manages to create a new world full of political and magical intrigue. Among the plague-torn Territories and as-yet-unexplored possibilities of the various strains of magic that exist in the land, there is a lot of potential for the development of future stories. The history and workings of the world gradually unveil themselves as the plot streams along, unfurling various kingdoms, political characters, and unique magical characteristics (like the Peace and Death Lilies).
Unfortunately, the subtleties of this fantasy world feel swamped under an endless barrage of plot-related “movement.” From the very first chapter, the characters always seem on the move: they are always going from place to place, hiding from mercenaries, taking random sideplots into rescuing random people in distress, encountering figures from their past and then blazing past whatever tension could develop, and so on. Chapters and fictional time fly by with little absorption of the important things that are actually going on—what shadows from the characters’ pasts affect their present-day behaviors? What terrible things have the villains done that make them truly villainous?
Overall, TOUCH OF POWER felt like a high-tech, nonstop-action, frenetic movie, in which things explode, long treks over varied terrains occur, and people hook up. This can be a fun read for a younger reader who enjoys a story in which the characters are constantly on the move, but compared to Snyder’s other series, I still vastly prefer the excitement and subtleties of the Study books.
Cover discussion: I love how Maria Snyder's books always get such vibrant covers, but I'm not sure how I feel about this one. I'm not the biggest fan of how that model looks, or is posed. Is it supposed to purposely look like a painting?
MIRA / Dec. 20, 2011 / Paperback / 400pp. / $14.95
e-galley from NetGalley.