Book 1 in the Healer series
I absolutely love all of Maria Snyder's books and the way she writes her characters, but I thought that this one was one of the better ones- back up to the standard of the fantastic Poison Study. I love the fantasy and the beautiful world building, but also the fantastic characters, and the camerarderie and companionship between them.
In this new series, magical healer Avry has been on the run and alone for three years. In the past, people with magic were respected, but now they are met with fear and suspicion- healers most especially. When she is kidnapped/ rescued from execution by a group of travellers determined to make her heal their friend, (a prince who Avry hates) she initially fights back. But as their travels drag on she gets used to them, and grows to think of them as a family, and I loved the bonds between them. She jokes around with Vinn and Quain, learns to fight from Belen and teaches little Flea how to juggle, as well as improving the standard of cooking on their travels. After a time she cannot imagine being without her new little family, and can't bear the thought of being on her own again. In turn, her determination, stubbornness and self-sacrificing nature earns her the respect of the group, and makes a strong impression on the group's leader Kerrick. And when Avry is taken by the nasty Tohon, the group fight tooth and nail to get her back again.
As well as the great cast of characters adding fun and heart to the story, there is the seriousness of the politics of the fifteen kingdoms, and the scheming and treachery involved in the fight for power. There are also the magical new creatures and plants of the world, the most intriguing of which are the Peace and Death Lilies, which I'm guessing the mystery of will be further explained in later books, and the different powers of the people as well. Some of the characters have more power than others, and there are also some new powers developing- keeping everything very interesting.
Despite the fact that there was a lot of travelling and camping the story never seemed to drag at all- it always felt like there was something going on, even if it was just a shift in the dynamics of the group. There is plenty of action in the form of attacks on the group, and Avry is still trying to discover more about what happened to her family and also trying to uncover the secret of the mysterious plague that has swept the land, and why the healers were blamed for it. Avry makes a great heroine because she is good and self-sacrificing, but also smart, feisty and courageous. She is very witty and speaks her mind no matter what. This frustrates Kerrick no end, and makes their banter so much more interesting to read about.
Maria Snyder has done it again- she has created a world where I get so completely sucked in and absorbed in that I don't even notice the pages turning. This is a completely compelling book mostly because of the relatable and lovable characters. Even those not fans of fantasy books can't help but be warmed by their friendship, amused by their quirkiness, and saddened by their losses. This is a story full of companionship, history, magic, danger, betrayals, and a sweet love story aspect that kind of sneaks up on you. Beautiful- I loved it.
Thanks to Harlequin publishers and Netgalley for the advance e-copy of this book for review.
|UK Paperback cover|
|Australian Paperback cover|