Tag Archives: The Healer series

Review of Taste of Darkness – Book 3 of the Avry of Kazan series by Maria V. Snyder

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I’ve read the first two books in this series – read my review of Scent of Magic here – and while it doesn’t pack the same punch as the Poison Study series, I’ve enjoyed it. So does Snyder manage to satisfactorily tie up the loose ends and provide all the necessary information to make the magic system work?

tasteofdarknessPowerful healer Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought a plague and survived. She took on corrupt King Tohon and defeated him. But now her true love Kerrick is missing and Avry fears he’s gone forever. Yet she faces a more immediate – and deadly – threat. The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With the territories’ armies in disarray and the dead not staying dead, Avry’s powers are needed more than ever.

So that’s the blurb. And once again, the lovelorn couple are yanked apart by circumstance and foul deed, as Kerrick disappears right at the start of the book. It wasn’t all that long ago I read the second in the series, which was a great advantage. While I rarely read a series straight off – once I start spotting an author’s foibles I find it really interferes with my reading enjoyment – the fact I could clearly recall the plot of the second book, Scent of Magic, stood me in good stead and I’d recommend that you don’t leave an overly long gap between these books if you want to get the best out of them.

Snyder has an entertaining cast of supporting characters which I enjoyed throughout the series and liked how she gave most of them their own story arc within the tale – no mean feat in a trilogy of average-sized books. Avry’s bossiness has grated at times, but in this slice of her adventures she wasn’t so much at the hub of all the action as in the last book, which I’d begun to find annoying and on the edge of believability.

The action rolls forward at full tilt from the start of Taste of Darkness and the pace doesn’t let up until right at the end. Indeed, there is a great deal of stealthy sneaking through the forest as fast as possible… But it all hangs together and I found this book grabbed me more firmly than the other two as I genuinely wanted to know what happened to the characters.

As for the final denouement, yes, it worked. What I really liked about this particular magic system, was that no one really knew all the consequences of the plants’ magical properties. Which, in my opinion, is as it should be. I get a tad tired of books where the magic behaves like a well-trained dog. Magic should be difficult to control and never fully predictable – and this is an aspect that has run through this readable, entertaining series. If you enjoy strong heroines rushing around woods in medieval fantasy settings full of incident and adventure, you could do a lot worse to banish those winter blues by getting hold of these books – starting at the beginning of the series with Touch of Power.
8/10

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