Maria V. Snyder
Touch of Power
Mira, $14.95/$10.99 digital, December 20, 2011
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 .
In a plague filled world, our heroine is a healer. Which would be an amazing thing in anybody else’s story. But in Maria V. Snyder’s Touch of Power, being a healer is a crime punishable by death. Especially when most of the population is under the impression that healers caused the plague.
And so at the beginning of our story, Avry heals a child and finds herself arrested, and sentenced to death. Yet hours from her execution, she is pulled from her cell and given the chance to escape. “Come with us if you want to live,” a young man says. An easy choice, right? Clearly not:
I hesitated. Trust a complete stranger or remain in jail and be executed in the morning? If he was sincere, Kerrick’s offer meant I would have my life back. …(t)hat survival instinct…once again flared to life. What if he was lying? I’d deal with it later. Right now, it didn’t matter; living suddenly took precedence over dying.
So she takes the offer, traveling through the forest, getting to know Kerrick and his band of men, including Belen and Flea. A careless conversation with Flea reveals that the man Kerrick and company want her to heal is someone responsible for the deaths of those close to her.
‘There’s nothing to discuss…I’m not healing him. In fact, I’m glad he’s locked in stasis where he can’t hurt anyone ever again The only thing that would make me happier is his death.”
Now, Avry is at another crossroads.Forty-one pages into the book, and she must make yet another impossible choice. And this is why I adore Maria Snyder’s books: Impossible choices wrapped up in a well-built fantasy world. Avry is never faced with an easy choice, and she never shies away from making a choice at all. Whether it’s about healing someone, opening her heart, or hardening it, or simply facing the adventure that’s in front of her, she makes the choice she believes is best for those around her.
Stacey aka @nystacey