Touch of Power: Avry of Kazan Book 1 by Maria V Snyder

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Touch of Power: Avry of Kazan Book 1 by Maria V Snyder

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: The people of the Fifteen Realms believe healers caused the plague which has decimated their world, and any healer caught is executed without trial. Avry is offered a stark choice: face the guillotine, or heal a man she hates.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: December 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781848450653

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The game is up. Despite the risk that she would be betrayed Avry couldn't stop herself from healing a sick child, and after years on the run she is in a cell awaiting execution. Then a band of misfit companions offer her freedom, in return for healing their prince. Unfortunately, said prince is the one who spread the idea of the healers' guilt in the first place, and as such he is Avry's sworn enemy.

There is a further complication. Healers work their magic by taking the illness or injury into their own bodies. They heal many times faster than other people, but they still endure all the same symptoms including pain, fevers and wounds (which mend but leave terrible scars). Unfortunately, because it takes too long for all the plague symptoms to manifest themselves, healers cannot cure people of it without condemning themselves to the same horrible death.

Avry escapes prison with Kerrick and his men, but will not promise to heal prince Ryne. Kerrick however is desperate: two or three of the leaders who once ruled the Fifteen Realms have taken advantage of the situation to invade and conquer their neighbours' lands, and to his mind Ryne is the only one who can restore a fair and lasting peace. All the way to the Nine Mountains where Ryne's body has been put in stasis until a healer is found, he and Avry are locked in a battle of wills which is only exacerbated by their obvious attraction to each other (obvious, that is, to everyone except themselves). At first he is harsh to the point of cruelty, chaining her up at night, depriving her of her cloak despite the cold weather and even hitting her, much to the dismay of his friends. Eventually a grudging respect teaches them both to work together against their common enemies the mercenaries, who have been offered a generous bounty for the healer's recapture.

There are many other dangers in their path, including a death magician who animates the dead to serve as his soldiers, an air magician who can stop you breathing, and the Death Lilies, enormous plants which swallow and consume their victims. Most horrible of all, in many ways, is the King whose touch makes Avry helpless to resist him and, worse, makes her crave his touch despite the cruel experiments he performs on children.

In many ways this is a traditional fantasy, full of people with magic powers and flesh-eating creatures set in a semi-medieval world. The heroine has to choose between the good guy, who is so utterly dedicated to the cause that he will do anything and risk anyone, and the flashy bad boy, who is cruel and ruthless but madly sexy. The love triangle is nothing new, and the heroine's central dilemma is negated by the fact that this is the first in a series – so she is, somehow, going to survive. The antipathy between the two main characters is based on a fairly tenuous assumption (why didn't she just ask him?). Nonetheless the book merits a decent number of stars for several reasons. It is fast-paced and exciting, with our heroes hurtling from one danger to the next with barely a pause for breath. Some of the minor characters are delightful, and their warmth and good humour do a great deal to lift this book from the run-of-the-mill. And lastly, we see in Avry a heroine who is courageous, determined and utterly committed to her gift, to the point where she is prepared to die for Ryne if she finds him worthy of the sacrifice. It has all the elements of a good fantasy read, and fans of Maria V Snyder will welcome it with open arms.

If you are unfamiliar with her work you might wish to try Inside Out. And another feisty heroine in a world gone mad can be found in Wolf Blood by N M Browne.

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Buy Touch of Power: Avry of Kazan Book 1 by Maria V Snyder at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Touch of Power: Avry of Kazan Book 1 by Maria V Snyder at


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