Title: Scent of Magic
Author: Maria V. Snyder (author website | blog)
Release Date: Jan. 1st 2013 by HarlequinTeen Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
There’s a comfort returning to the pages and world of a favourite author: a sense of familiarity and trust that where she leads, you will follow. With this firmly in mind, I enter any Maria V. Snyder novel with excitement, and, in Scent of Magic, was well rewarded. With romance, intrigue, magic and war, I was thrilled, but even more delighted to find myself surprised.
Hunted, 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 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
After healing the dying Prince Ryne at the cost of her life, no-one’s more surprised to find herself alive than Avry of Kazan. We join Avry and Kerrick where we left them, together at last, but Avry’s ‘death’ provides opportunities too good to ignore, and the couple are soon separated, providing the catalyst for the first of many surprises Scent of Magic has in store.
As Avry and Kerrick separate, so too does Scent of Magic’s narrative, a first in Snyder’s novels. While Avry assumes a new identity, travelling to join the army of High Priestess Estrid, Kerrick reunites with Prince Ryne, helping to rally his troops and join Estrid in the fight against the evil King Tohon. If this has you confused, you’re not alone. While Scent of Magic is not the place to enter this series, and it took some few chapters to acclimate, its world and characters re-emerge from the shadows swiftly, and at this, it takes off.
Scent of Magic is, perhaps, Snyder’s most action-packed novel to date. When ‘The Plan’ goes awry, Avry and Kerrick’s paths careen off in disparate directions and, with each alternating chapter ending on a high-stakes note for both leads, maintains a rocketing pace, an element sometimes lost to the minutiae of High Fantasy — though a typical fantasy novelist this author is not.
Snyder has a particular talent for writing strong, capable and intelligent leads, and Avry is, of course, no exception. Even better, Avry’s grown since Touch of Power, and been shaped by her experience. No longer running from danger, she confronts it. She assumes a ‘woman of action’ role in Scent of Magic and, separated from her lover and protector, readers are shown what she’s truly capable of. With magical healing abilities, feared powers, and a knack for finding herself desperately entangled with the Powers That Be, Avry could easily be compared to Snyder’s most memorable heroine, Yelena, but possesses a spark and a special magic all of her own.
Kerrick, meanwhile, gets his moment to shine like no other Snyder hero has, and his job is harder, even, than Avry’s. Beaten, kidnapped and held captive, he becomes a more flawed and relatable hero, and through his eyes we learn more about the magic and construct of the Fifteen Realms. Kerrick’s intimate knowledge of his world’s workings is a welcome addition, offering form and familiarity to a complex world system that would otherwise prove confusing.
While it’s no surprise a Snyder novel offers wonderful leads, there's an interesting moral ambiguity in the Healer series’ characters, one which seems absent from Snyder's previous work, at least in comparison. It boasts a vile, narcissistic, megalomaniac villain, made all the worse as he genuinely believes his evils are justified in the scheme of things, for the greater good – and may just have a point. Meanwhile, the ‘good guys’ themselves don't seem quite ‘good’, and it offers a plethora of opportunities for unexpected twists, turns, and surprises.
High stakes, gripping intrigue and an immersive magical world, Maria V. Snyder delivers yet another fantasy romp which will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore, not to mention the inimitable Maria, herself. This is Snyder at the top of her game. Filled with unexpected betrayals, double crosses and an expansive cast of warm, wonderful supporting characters, Scent of Magic is surprising and compulsively readable, and one of Snyder’s finest offerings to date.
Books in This Series:
- Touch of Power (December 2011)
- Scent of Magic (January 2013)
- Taste of Death (Expected December 2013)
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