Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes 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 Territories, 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….

You can read an excerpt here.


For me, Touch of Power was like movie theater popcorn – delicious if you’re in the mood, but of zero substance, and after you’re done you might find it didn’t entirely agree with you.

This book is a very, very light fantasy adventure – did you like Legend of the Seeker, the TV show? Touch of Power is about the same speed: non-stop action, a team that pulls for each other, a patina of magic and political intrigue, and of course, an Evil Lord that needs defeating. Snyder always excels at moving her narrative speedily along, but as I’ve said before about her books, I think she has a tendency to move too quickly for her own good – and here once again I found her speed trampling her substance. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed the action – and I’m always a sucker for a story about a team – but there just wasn’t enough to it all, in terms of the world, the character building, and all around emotional impact, to make a full meal out of.

Still, there was nothing I overtly disliked about this story – Avry, the leading lady, is pretty much your classic Snyder heroine: determined, plucky, and willing to shoulder blame. I liked Avry, but having read all of Snyder’s books, I have to say she didn’t feel all that distinct from Snyder’s previous heroines. Similarly, Avry’s team felt rather generic – the gentle giant, the intimidating leader, the irrepressible youngster, and the bickering duo – but it was a comfortable sort of familiarity. The romance also follows a somewhat similar track to Valek and Yelena’s (from the Study series) , but I still thought it was rather sweet, and I particularly enjoyed how Snyder implied the romance instead of hitting us over the head with it. I guess what I’m saying is, this book isn’t going to knock your socks off in terms of originality, but you can still have a good time reading it.

As for the world building, it too had a fair bit in common with Snyder’s previous series – a quasi-European land with warring states – but it was different enough from the Study series to make for a pleasant change of scenery. I particularly liked the strange, deadly lilies and mystery behind the plague – though I do wish Snyder had delved more into both, instead of just dipping a toe. As for the magic system, it too was only lightly explored, though I liked how Avry’s power had a price – but frankly, I think Janice Hardy’s Healing War series has a more interesting take on the same general idea.

When it comes to plot you can always count on Snyder to proceed with alacrity, and true to form, this story never once stopped moving. I enjoyed watching the team gallivant together, but towards the end the narrative took a turn that rather diffused the momentum that was building up to that point. Avry comes up with a plan that I thought was fairly ridiculous, yet everyone agrees to it with equally ridiculous ease, and then the way the story unspools from there is a little hard to swallow. Overall the plot is basically so busy throwing things at you that it never really builds on itself in a meaningful way, but I still easily made it through to the end, where the biggest question was resolved in a satisfying, if somewhat haphazard, way.

So what to make of Touch of Power? It, like movie popcorn, is a mystery – sometimes you just can’t resist that buttery smell, and sometimes it just doesn’t appeal in the slightest. This book I suspect will create the same duality in readers – either you will find it’s just the mindless romp you’ve been looking for, or you’ll find it’s just not substantial enough. Still, Snyder has made many a fan with her patented style, and Touch of Power is dead center in Snyder’s wheelhouse – though I still firmly believe Poison Study is her best book.

I will say this – there’s certainly plenty left to be explored in the next book, and I will be reading it.

Byrt Grade: B+/B

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Good Choice Reading says:

It’s fast paced, full of magic and lots of unexpected moments. Maria V. Snyder really knows how to pull her readers in and hold their attention. She doesn’t waste anytime jumping right into the action. I loved this book…

Tatiana from Goodreads says:

…It is probably time for me to abandon all hopes of ever reading something written by the author that is as good as Poison Study.

Jen from Goodreadsy says:

Touch of Power is Poison Study good!!! *HUGE CHEER* I haven’t enjoyed a book by Maria V Snyder so much in a long time…