Scent of Magic – by Maria V Snyder
Dear Maria V Snyder. I have been, and always shall be, your fan. Scent of Magic was a great follow up to Touch of Power, the first book in Snyder’s ‘Healer’ series.
It’s been only a handful of days since Avry and Kerrick escaped from Tohon’s clutches. Loathe as they are to separate, they have different paths to follow for now. Avry’s determined to find her sister, which means infiltrating the High Priestess Estrid’s holy army. Kerrick has his own obligations, heading north to aid Prince Ryne as well as his own kingdom. Meanwhile, Tohon’s forces continue to swell with the horrific dead soldiers Avry and Kerrick have faced before, that most people refuse to believe exist.
As Tohon’s terrible army inexorably closes in on Estrid and Ryne’s forces, Avry must hope that with her help, Estrid’s people will be trained well enough to fight back. And somehow, Avry needs to find a way back to Kerrick.
I’ve mentioned how much I enjoy Snyder’s world building before, but it bears repeating. I understand this world. The people and their motivations are clear, distinct from each other and understandable, which is the key to characters a reader can connect with. The magic’s intriguing. I’ll admit to finding it a little frustrating when another twist of the magic popped into being just in time to avert a tragedy, in a most convenient fashion. As if to balance this, there were also times when a handy magical save would have been welcome and wasn’t delivered. And that was WAY worse! Why do good people have to die?! (I get why, I do. But still…)
I love Avry. She’s an excellent female protagonist. She thinks. And refuses to give up when something isn’t coming together. She also lets herself feel, and hurt, and grieve – which is necessary when you’ve faced as much loss as Avry. She accepts the pain that comes with such tragedies while refusing to be ruled or defeated by it.
Kerrick got a lot more interesting in Scent of Magic. In Touch of Power he spent a fair bit of the book being a foil for the more sympathetic Avry, before we eventually got a glimpse at his point of view. In Scent of Magic, we learn about Prince Kerrick, what the face that Kerrick has a title means, and what Kerrick wants it to mean. We meet his people and see how he deals with crises that require him to act for the good of more than the handful of people he thinks of as family. I already liked Kerrick. After this book, I respect him more, have a bigger book crush on him, and I’m even more firmly invested in his and Avry’s well being.
The action simmers for a lot of Scent of Magic, setting up for the next showdown with Tohon. The conflict roars to the forefront towards the end of the book, however, so don’t go thinking this book is a filler volume before the third instalment. Maria V Snyder doesn’t do filler!
Even when there’s not all that much fighting and running and dying, there are plenty of important and interesting developments. Avry’s still looking in to the Peace and Death Lilys – what powers do they have? She’s also training Estrid’s troops to best counter Tohon’s abominations. Not to mention trying to find a way to reconnect with her sister – all while remaining incognito. Being the last healer alive is way too high profile and dangerous for now. By the close of Scent of Magic we, and Avry, are closer to some answers and, it feels like, even further from others.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’ve enjoyed all Snyder’s work, and expect to love the third book in this Healer trilogy. I heartily recommend her work to you, it is excellent!
You’ve read some Maria V Snyder, right?! If not, I think you need to get on that quick smart! (I’d suggest starting with Touch of Power or Poison Study. Both are great!)