Saturday, January 21, 2012

Touch of Power

I first found a Maria V. Snyder book in a box of advance reader's copies, and I have been hooked ever since. My favorite series of hers is the Poison Study series. She also has a Glass series that takes place in the same fantasy world. I was less fond of Inside Out, the first book of a science fiction series that seems to take place in an enclosed community in outer space. There is a second book in that series that I have on my shelf but have not read yet. Snyder shines brightest in her fantasy worlds, I think. I found Inside Out boring in comparison to her other books.

Touch of Power is her ninth book, unrelated to her previous fantasy novels but a new fantasy novel that appears to be the beginning of a new series. It looked good, but when I started reading it, I was initially bored. Perhaps that had something to do with being in labor at the time...ha, ha...because when I picked up the book to read this time, I realized I hadn't gotten more than a chapter in and I'd quit right before it all got interesting.

In Touch of Power (I'm less impressed with the title than the book), Avry is the last healer, a magician who can take a person's sickness or wounds onto herself and heal herself ten times faster than the average human. Sounds like she would be in high demand, doesn't it? But the healers are blamed for the plague that ruined the Fifteen Realms, so Avry is on the run for her life. If only she didn't have a soft spot for healing kids. When she's finally caught, her only options are execution or imprisonment at the hands of her mysterious "rescuers," who want her to heal a prince she hates. As she journeys with them, she causes a lot of trouble, learns how to defend herself properly, makes new enemies and friends, and even sort of falls in love. It's great adventure, intriguing magic, and memorable characters that make me love Snyder's fantasies.

There are a few weaknesses in this one. I caught a turn of phrase that was reminiscent of the main character in the Glass series, and it was so exactly like what she would have said that it caught me off guard in this book. Otherwise, Avry is typical of Snyder's strong heroines but also a character all her own. Her traveling companions are all interesting except that Vinn and Quain, two less important characters, could be interchangeable. The villains are great. Snyder likes to vilify her heroines' love interests at first and then have the heroine get attached to them...a little Stockholm Syndrome going on there, but it works. Mainly it creates romantic tension. I thought the end was a little mushy. Not trying to give much away here, but you wouldn't be up for having sex if you were dying, would you? I mean, come on.

And now I come to Snyder's greatest flaw: character morality. I guess it's called Fantasy for a reason. So many fantasies kind of just throw certain aspects of morality out the door. After all, if you create a world where STD's don't exist, why not have characters sleeping together left and right? Snyder does it in all her fantasy books. She's isn't particularly graphic about it, which I appreciate, but she treats the subject like it's no big deal, which I guess it isn't to many people nowadays. We're talking sex outside of marriage here. When I read her first series, it was targeted toward teens. I assumed her Glass series was young adult as well but then noticed it wasn't advertising itself as such. Touch of Power also does not advertise itself as young adult. Though it's probably mostly okay for teens, I'd agree that it's not specifically for them. The Glass series, on the other hand, had some very mature themes in it, and after I'd read it, assuming it was young adult, I was kind of shocked until I realized I'd been assuming something that wasn't necessarily true. However, even the Poison Study series gets darker in the third book. Touch of Power is tamer than both.

So, maybe Maria V. Snyder is my guilty pleasure, but fast-paced fantasy that doesn't bog you down in details and stars independent, strong-willed, stubborn female characters seems like it's hard to come by. If I'm wrong about that, let me know! (And here my husband is telling me for the thousandth time to read Wheel of Time, but honey, I'd have to read all the boring male parts, too.)

Three and a half stars for a good (but not the best) Maria V. Snyder fantasy romance.


  1. You at least mentioned Wheel of Time. That's improvement! Everyone's independent, strong-willed, and stubborn in that series.

  2. Perhaps I'll read Wheel of Time...when people stop writing good young adult fiction! Or when I get tired of YA. I suppose that could happen...maybe.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.