Review of SCENT OF MAGIC by MARIA V. SNYDER
(second in the HEALER trilogy)
I loooved the first book in this series. While I did have some nitpicky complaints, I found TOUCH OF POWER addictive and compelling. Unfortunately, SCENT OF MAGIC feels far too much a middle book in a trilogy than a book in its own right. I still have high hopes for the final book in the HEALER trilogy, but I found many annoyances with this middle installment.
The book does pick up pace in the last third, but the first two thirds involve excessive downtime and much musing on the inevitable, impending battle with Tohon. Confrontations don't start occurring until that last third, though everything happens faster then. In addition, new characters never really distinguish themselves and the politics and military strategy often seem lacking in logic and rather arbitrary. Avry also feels more unfocused to me now; TOUCH OF POWER made me feel I had a good sense of her character - her priorities, morals, values, etc. - but sometimes her thoughts or actions in SCENT OF MAGIC made me feel like I don't know her at all. Last, Avry's victory at the end struck me as far too easy: it's won more by stupidity on the part of a villain than through her own strengths.
When I looked at my list of criticisms versus praise I hesitated to review this book, but the truth is that I did enjoy SCENT OF MAGIC. After some thought, I realized I keep trying to review it like it's great literature and by that measure it falls short of my expectations. However, it's fantastic fluff/entertainment reading that held my attention, even at slower parts, and I intend to finish the series. I believe Snyder's building towards a much better third and final book and the end of SCENT OF MAGIC certainly sets up a unique final conflict.