Review of Scent of Magic – Book 2 of The Healer series by Maria V. Snyder

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I very much enjoyed Snyder’s Soulfinder series – and the first book in The Healer series, Touch of Power, was a strong start. Would I enjoy this second book?

scentofmagicHunted, Killed—Survived? As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

The book pretty much takes up where Touch of Power finishes – so hits the ground running. It is a dual narrative with Avry’s story in first person viewpoint (I) and Kerrick’s plot in third person pov (he). The risk with this structure is that the reader gets more involved with one character and skims the other storyline. Though Avry’s voice is stronger and more immediate, I still enjoyed Kerrick’s story as I like his grumpiness and the fact that he doesn’t come across as the lantern-jawed hero.

Meanwhile, Avry is every bit the feisty heroine of the first book – in fact if I do have a grizzle with this book, there are times when I think she verges on the edge of being a Mary Sue. However there are enough threats going on and the story rackets along at sufficient pace that Snyder avoids that trap – just. The second book in a trilogy is often the one that suffers – it lacks the punch and originality of the first book, while also not completely tying up the storyline satisfactorily. Therefore it needs to progress the action and provide character development with plenty of adventure, providing plenty of enjoyment so that by the end the reader is determined to get hold of the third instalment.

So will I be looking out for Taste of Darkness? Oh yes. I like the world and am intrigued by the backstory. I also am interested to see how Snyder sorts out the details regarding her magic system – and what the deal actually is between the Peace Lily and Death Lily. In the meantime, while I found this an enjoyable read, I do recommend that you read Touch of Power first. Snyder is too deft to have you totally adrift in her world during this second slice in her Healer series, but you certainly will get more out of the experience if you are already acquainted with the main characters and their story arc.
8/10

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12 responses »

  1. Does this series follow a traditional fantasy narrative, which is save the world, defeat the villain? Or is there more to it? I recently read a book that bummed me out on that particular plot.

    • Hi Siamesemayhem,
      Thank you for commenting and I’m really sorry I didn’t reply – somehow the notification for this fell betweent he cracks… In reply to your question, yes… it does largely follow the traditional fantasy narrative. However, because Snyder also has a larger cast of characters whose fortunes she also follows, there is some extra depth there – and the magic isn’t predictable or very controllable, either, which I really liked.

      Hope that helps… What authors do you really like?

      • I certainly like creative magic systems.

        I’ve been thinking recently that a villain makes or breaks traditional fantasy. 3-D villains certainly go a long way towards making that narrative palatable.

        Let’s see, I LOVE Gerald Morris (grew up reading him), even though he’s a bit more obscure. I like most of Robin McKinley, though sometimes it can be hit or miss. Love Vivian Van Velde to death.

      • Oh, I agree with you regarding villains – that is one of the great strengths of the Harry Potter series – we have the typical Pantomime villain in Voldemort, and then a range of more nuanced baddies, such as Malfoy and Snape.

        As for your authors – I’ve NEVER encountered any of them! Who would you recommend I try?

      • As I’ve gotten older, Voldemort doesn’t do much for me anymore–it’s the characters of Malfoy and Snape, like you said, who are far more interesting. In fact, they’re so interesting that people are still arguing whether they’re villains or not–which is probably a sign of great characterization.

        Robin McKinley and Vivian Velde are the most well-known, but Gerald Morris will always have a special place in my heart. He wrote the Squires’ Tales, which is a long series, but each entry is fairly short. It’s an elaborate parody of Arthurian quest fantasy, but it has so much heart.

        I’ve only read Vivian Van Velde’s fantasy, not so much her scifi, but Dragon’s Bait is brilliant and a Well-Timed Enchantment is adorable.

      • Thank you for that:). You’re right – it was Snape’s story that left me with a lump in my throat – and I think that Dumbledore is also very flawed… he used Harry in a very calculating manner – to the extent that I would argue he is also a villain where Harry is concerned…

        Thank you for the recommendation – I’m going to be tracking down Vivian Van Velde and Dragon Bait – which sounds very interesting.

      • Ha, I’m not a huge fan of Dumbledore, either. The revelations about him left a sour taste in my mouth, but then again, I will probably always have a soft spot for him–if only for the lemon drops and the socks.

  2. You’re also a fan of Maria Snyder? Yay! 😀 I enjoyed her Study / Soulfinder series, with Poison Study being one of my favorite books of all time. Did you know a new Soulfinder novel is coming out in a couple months?

    Nice job on the review. I haven’t read Snyder’s Healer series yet and have read mixed opinions about it. It sounds like you’ve enjoyed this series so far, though. Would you recommend it?

  3. 🙂 Hey thank you for reviewing this! I really liked the Poison Study series (well…2 first books, 3 not so much and others I haven’t read) so might give this a try!

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