Despite my disappointment with the ending of the Chronicles of Ixia, in the form of Dawn Study, I was still willing to give Maria V Snyder’s other books a go. She has the Avry of Kazan trilogy, which seems like a similar type of fantasy, and then also the Inside Out/Outside In duology, which is a dystopia. I decided to go for Avry of Kazan first, as I was in a high fantasy mood, and started with the first instalment, Touch of Power.
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince, the leader of a campaign against her people.
As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for.
First things first, this book has incredible cover art. All three versions are stupendous. I dunno how Snyder manages it, but her cover art designers are inspired, and the interaction between these covers and her Ixia covers is also beautiful – similar feels, but different enough to distinguish them. Spot on. Thumbs up all around here.
As for the story itself? Well I had no major problems with it. There was nothing spectacular about it – only a few weeks after I finished reading it, I’ve already forgotten a lot of the details, but there was nothing particularly offensive either. In a typical case of Stockholm Syndrome, Avry grows to love her captors, seeing that they are actually on the side of what is right and just, and forgiving them for chaining her to a tree. Not unexpected, to be honest. This was a pretty enjoyable, but also quite forgettable first instalment in a trilogy that I will finish, because I’m interested to see how it will pan out, but I don’t think I would be falling over myself to recommend. The Chronicles of Ixia are more interesting, partially because of their stronger leading character in Yelena, but also because the worldbuilding feels stronger. With fifteen realms in the Avry of Kazan novels, it all feels like they’re a bit underdeveloped, and I really have no idea how any of them differ. Similarly, with a whole host of different types of magics broken into categories, it doesn’t feel like I understand any of them particularly well, other than healing, since that’s our MC.
Perhaps these issues will be solved in the later instalments, since there are two more books in this trilogy, and I certainly will be picking them up at some point to see what happens to Avry and her fifteen realms, but I’m not exactly rushing out to the bookshop to pick them up immediately.