Home > Mitch's Musings > Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder

Scent of Magic is one of those books Katy and I disagree over, she thinks it’s disappointing but good while I think it’s just disappointing. Unfortunately she makes some good points so I can’t needle her like I did with Throne of Glass. Whos right? Pick it up December 18 and let us know!

Scent of Magic
by Maria V. Snyder

Scent of Magic (Healer 2)

By: Maria V. Snyder

Release Date: December 18, 2012

Rating: 2 Stars

Summary: 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

I’m really disappointed. I’ve heard of Maria Snyder’s sequel ‘curse’, but I’ve never experienced it firsthand, having never read any of her sequels. Though that’s probably a good thing, because from what I can tell, Scent of Magic is Magic Study all over again: a letdown that wastes much of the promise of the first book.

I hate to say it, but everything I loved about Touch of Power has been completely leeched from this sequel. When I first met Avry, she was this awesome character, on the run from everyone, the last healer in the Fifteen Realms. She had me at that first scene when she was agonizing over whether to heal that little girl, and scene after scene after that, as she’s facing her impending execution, slowly building relationships with Kerrick and his gang, deciding whether to heal Rhyne, facing off against Tohon, I just kept thinking, wow, she’s such an enormously complex and conflicted character. Well, no more, because Scent of Magic drops all that in favor of plot development which barely treads water, and I’m sorry to report that there’s almost zero character development. Where’s that girl who impressed me with her inner turmoil over her role in a world destroyed by plague? I never found her, because this entire book is just Avry doing whatever the plot mandates, mostly by Tohon’s machinations, occasionally by someone else, Jael, the soldiers Avry’s training, or, when she has the time, angsting over Kerrick. Avry’s few scenes with her sister, one of weaker parts of the first book, provide one of the few glimpses into her character and just left me deeply unsatisfied.

Part of it is also Snyder’s choice to split up Avry from Kerrick, and the two of them from everyone else. The camaraderie of their little group was one of the highlights of the first book, and I highly question Snyder’s decision to send Kerrick off to do his own thing in alternating chapters of third person point of view, while separating Avry from Belen and the others – who we barely see – and introducing new characters who just couldn’t fill the hole left in the group dynamic. It’s not like Kerrick’s mission was all that integral to the plot of the story – I can see how it’ll turn out as a Gondor calls for aid type situation in the next book, but the whole thing felt oddly out of place in this book, in the fight against Tohon, like Snyder’s saying, here’s some new stuff that doesn’t fit with anything else but it’ll be important later, trust me… but it only ends up making the chapters focusing on Avry’s ‘plan’, training Estrid’s army against Tohon’s undead while undercover, really really repetitive and boring, like she’s in a holding pattern. Then there are the parts where Avry thinks Kerrick is dead, and her reactions when she gets news about him is just unbelievable and weird. Actually, the emotions just never felt right – including with a big spoiler concerning the status of a favorite character from the last book. Oh, and the constant cliffhangers every time the point of view changes gets really old really fast.

Worse still, Scent of Magic highlights a lot of the weaker aspects of the first book I’d been able to brush aside previously, but really can’t ignore anymore. Setting has never been this series’ strong suit, but it’s pretty obvious now the heavy character focus really carried Touch of Power. Because the first chapter of this book? A recap of the world building done before, and it really shows how shallow the Fifteen Realms are, with the characters just reciting a bunch of names, lines, and dots on a map. What sets Kazan apart from Sogra? What’s unique of Pomyt? These are the little details that make reading sentences basically saying we’ve just spent X days getting to town Y on the map fun, well, unless the characters make the journey enjoyable, but this time around, they didn’t, they were just traveling. And Tohon… I’m appalled, he was a serviceable villain in Touch of Power, but now… I’m embarrassed from him. He lets Avry get away with way too much without any rational reason – basically, he’s only a threat because Avry’s got too much of a conscience to actually kill him. The handling of the Death and Peace lilies too, there are some new developments and mysteries but I don’t think I learned anything new about how they work, that, Tohon’s undead, the fill in the blanks geography made worse by the ‘training’ and the ‘patrols’, the slow pacing at the beginning and the almost blink and you’ll miss it resolution of an ending, it really shatters the fantasy immersion.

Hmm, the only thing that doesn’t bother me is the cliffhanger ending. If you pay attention to the writing, what we know about Death and Peace lilies, and particularly the foreshadowing, it’s quite obvious what’s going on. But… I don’t know what to say, between the incompetent villain, the flat setting, Kerrick’s mess of a B-plot, the supporting gang almost vanishing into thin air, and Avry losing every interesting aspect to her character, Maria Snyder, what happened?

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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