Book Review: Touch of Power
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs 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 Fifteen Realms, 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…
Oh my gravy boat…what to say about this book. I’m at a loss for words. Fortunately, my stilled tongue is not necessarily from my complete and utter hatred of the book. Unfortunately, neither am I running up and down the sidewalk, praising the book in all its glory. Honestly, if someone were to ask me what I felt about Touch Of Power by Maria Snyder I think all I’d be able to muster is – (shrug shoulders) “Meh.”
This book is about a woman named Avry who has a magical ability to heal people by absorbing their afflictions and enduring them herself. Pretty special gift right? You’d think people would cherish “Healers” and protect them at all costs. Unfortunately, the exact opposite goes on in this book. Healers are accused of spreading the plaque and are hunted by bounty hunters for a sum of gold. All healers have been executed except for Avry.
Avry has spent the last three years on the run when she’s captured by a group of men who wish to take her to their ailed prince who needs healing. Problem is, Avry doesn’t particularly like this prince! And doesn’t feel his life is worth saving. Can the band of rogues convince Avry to change her mind? Was she a victim of malicious rumors and the prince is not as bad as she thought he was? Is she willing to give up her own life so he may live?
The synopsis obviously intrigued me enough to give the book a chance. The concept of “Healers” was new, fresh, and it’s been a while since I’ve read a Fantasy novel so I was excited to give it a shot. Unfortunately, everything fell flat. I felt there was no depth to the story. In the end, it was all very simple and to be honest not as exciting as I anticipated. Basically the entire book is this one journey. Avry is kidnapped in the beginning of the story and it takes two months to travel to where this prince is hiding. Of course a series of unforeseeable and rather unfortunate circumstances hinder their travels but when you take a step back that’s really all you get…That’s the story. This one trip. I also felt majority of these “unforeseeable circumstances” were rather pointless and didn’t help support the story. They were just random events that deviated the party from their course. It became boring real fast.
I had a really hard time with the characters. Just like with the plot I felt there was no depth, no development. Being a Healer, Avry is obviously a very caring and self-sacrificing individual. She clearly puts others first before she thinks about herself. As noble as that is I couldn’t help thinking – WHY? Why is she the way she is? Why is she constantly looking for people to heal? Why does she not take a moment to stop and think what would happen to her if she healed someone? I have no doubt that it’s possible for someone to be so…”Christ-like”…if you will, but it’s highly unlikely. Humans are naturally selfish creatures. I couldn’t stand the fact that the author provided no justification for what Avry was doing or why she chose to be the way she is.
Kerrick was a pickle…Kerrick is the leader of this band of misfits. He’s in charge and calling all the shots. Of course it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that he’ll be the love interest in this novel. In the beginning, Kerrick is cruel, hot-tempered, and selfish. He only has one focus on his mind and that is to find a way to heal the prince. He’s willing to sacrifice anything and anyone that gets in the way of achieving this goal. Some might consider him courageous and admirable but seeing as how I knew from the get go that he and Avry were eventually going to fall for each other, it was really hard to see him be so mean to her. Just like with Avry, there was no development. There was no change to his character. He was like a brick the entire time. Well, actually that’s not true. Towards the last few pages Kerrick does a complete 180 and his entire character flips. Instead of cruel, hot-tempered, and selfish he’s kind, patient, and loving. As great as the turn around is there was no progression to his change. One minute he’s cruel and the next he’s kind. I felt I was reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Didn’t work for me.
Another thing that irked me about the characters was how non-chivalrous all the men in the group were. Call me old fashioned but I love my men to be “knight in shining armor” material. I really hated how all the men didn’t seem to care or even acknowledge the fact that whenever Avry healed one of them she basically endured the pain FOR them. Not once did anyone try to stop her because they couldn’t bare the thought of putting a woman through such pain. They were just happy to be rid of the injury. For the love, if you’re going to be that selfish at least care for her until she heals! Don’t just let her roll over onto her bed and be alone!
The setting was actually well thought out and put together nicely. The author provides a map at the beginning of the book so readers can visually see the world she created. Everything was very detailed and it wasn’t hard to imagine everything in your mind.
I blame my pacing issues on the unforeseeable, random, useless turn of events that kept pulling the company off course. At first I was going along for the ride just fine but after I started to realize how useless everything that was taking place was it wasn’t hard to just start skimming and still get the gist of the story. Of course, once I start skimming its nearly impossible for me to stop. It literally got to the point where I didn’t even care if I missed something important. I just thought, “When will this silly story just end!”
Just like the plot and characters, the writing style was also very simple and just plain, blah. I felt I was listening to a narrator just list off certain events one by one. People died, people almost died, people healed, people fell in love, and it was all narrated in this very nonchalant, “Oh this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened…” kind of manner. I also felt the author didn’t plan her novel thoroughly enough. She leads you to assume certain things will happen but then she gets carried away with the story and forgets to follow through with her plan. So what’s the solution? Oh just resolve the issue at the end with no explanation or justification and let’s hope the readers don’t mind. Yeah, I mind. A lot.
Well, the novel had great potential but unfortunately didn’t exceed my expectations. Sadly to say this is a series I most likely will not be finishing.