Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Fantasy Book Review: ‘Scent of Power’ by Maria V. Snyder

**SPOILER ALERT – SCENT OF POWER is the second in the Healer Series.  If you haven’t read, Touch of Power, you might want to head over to my review of that HERE instead**


Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Hunted, Killed—Survived?


Snyopsis courtesy of GoodReads
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 and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible … again.

Review

I really enjoyed the first book in the Healer trilogy and was beyond excited to get approved for an advance copy of the second on NetGalley.  Let me get something out there early on:  I enjoyed this one.  Really, I did, but not as much as I expected to.  The great thing about Snyder’s Study and Glass series was that they were very well balanced, with each instalment as strong as the others.  Scent of Magic, however, felt very much like the middle part of a trilogy; good character development and some progress in the overall plot but with little of its own to recommend it.

The story kicks off right back where Touch of Power left off.  If it’s been more than a few months since you read the last one, I would recommend a quick re-cap.  There is a little bit in the way of catch-up but not much and I did find myself feeling a little lost at first.  That isn’t a criticism as such, since it means that you’re launched straight into the action – it’s more my own fault since it had been about a year since I’d read the first book.

When I’d managed to catch up, the pacing/timing became quite unpredictable and disorientating.  Alternating narrators isn’t something that I have a problem with at all.  Quite the opposite.  What I found frustrating was that it was almost impossible to tell how the two narratives fit together in time.  At the very beginning, Avry and Kerrick separate and head off on their own journeys.  After a few chapters, Avry has passed a few weeks while Kerrick has only passed a few minutes and yet we’re still flicking between them as though they’re running parallel.  It isn’t a huge point, I know, but I found it frustrating, particularly later on when both characters were passing months/weeks in their narratives with very little to tie them together.

I loved the characters in the first book.  Worry not! They’re still great and there are moments where their banter is a nice diversion from impending death by zombie.  As Tohon’s evil plans progress though, the tone becomes darker and stems the flow of the effusive “Guys!” type talk.  Which isn’t to say that the unusual blending of medieval-esque warfare and modern day language is gone, because it isn’t.  There is less though…planning for an epic battle does make a gang less jaunty, I suppose.

The best part of this trilogy is still its evil-doers.  Damn it if Tohon isn’t one alluring villain.  Ok, so he uses magic to compel women to throw themselves at him and, sure, that’s creepy BUT there is something unsettlingly charming about him…He is rather diabolical and it strengthens this particular book no end.  The scenes with Avry and Tohon were the best.  They highlight everything that’s good about her character and they balance each other really well.

Actually, it occurs to me now that I also really liked the development of the different types of magic, especially Kerrick’s.  His forest magic is particularly well thought out and the descriptions are some of the best written in the book.  There’s a lot revealed about the other types of magic too, including some hints at where they come from and how they all work.  I expected a lot more about “magic sniffers” too (because of the title…) and I was a bit disappointed.  Fingers crossed there’s more of all of this in the next book!

Overall:  I finished this book a little underwhelmed – I liked the story well enough (even though it might not sound like it) but I just didn’t love it.  It will pass a few hours and will more than likely still have you coming back for more when the third and final instalment in the Healer trilogy is released but I’m reluctant to say much more than that…

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Date finished:  08 December 2012
Format:  eBook
Source:  Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Genre:  Fantasy fiction
Published (in the UK): by Mira Books in December 2012