Touch of Power
by Maria V. Snyder
Review by Harriet Klausner
Mira Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780778313076
Date: 20 December 2011 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In the Fifteen Realms, the plague killed many people while the healers failed to prevent the mass deaths. Angry at their helplessness, the people blamed the healers for the pandemic's spread. Healing became outlawed and healers were hunted until there is only one survivor left.
Avry of Kazan is the last living healer, but using her power, something a healer could never ignore when someone was in need, means the gallows. Now she's a captive pending execution for healing a dying two years old child; only to be turned in to the law by the villagers for the bounty on healers. Kerrick of Alga and his men liberate Avry, as he knows the people need her while the royal leaders are at war with one another.
Touch of Power is the exciting start of a new fantasy series by Maria V. Snyder (see her Study and Glass trilogies). The Fifteen Realms is a fascinating world as the affluent royals battle one another for more power while ignoring or stomping on their expendable subjects. The concept of healing being an illegal capital offense is intriguing and executed (no pun intended) deftly by Ms. Snyder.
Kerrick is typical of the genre's caring roguish hero. He is charismatic, handsome and a strong leader. He has his prisoner thinking thoughts that she never had before. To his credit, for the most part, he thinks with his upper head though is attracted to the last healer in the realm.
Avry brings freshness to the enjoyable story line. She could not stop herself from healing the infant though she knew if exposed what would happen to her. Her reaction to being on death row is acceptance for her fate and pity for those who chose gold over healing the ill and pained.
Not used to desire, Avry is confused by her feelings towards Kerrick and even more bewildered by the political machinations of avaricious power seekers like charming, intelligent, and apparently crazy Tohon who ignore the plight of the people. Yet in spite of not understanding the motives of others, she bravely does what she feels is right for the people even risking her own life several times to do so.
Readers anticipating a heated romance between the lead couple will be disappointed as this subplot goes slowly. This adds realism to an engaging fantasy as the lead pair understands they must put on hold somewhat their desire for one another because the people need them now. Maria V. Snyder has the magic touch when it comes to giving readers a spellbinding tale.