Scent of Magic, by Maria Snyder

Scent of Magic is the second in the Healer series by Maria Snyder.  The story picks up immediately after the events in the first book, Touch of Power.  While it is possible to read this book as a stand alone, it is a much richer experience if you read the series from the beginning.

One of the things I like most about Maria Snyder’s writing is her plotting.  Each book feels like a self-contained story while also advancing the larger story of the trilogy.  New storylines are introduced while other plot points are wrapped up.  Nothing feels tacked on, it feels like you are seeing the bigger picture along with the characters. Likewise, her characters show real growth.  They grow from the beginning of the book to the end and from the beginning of the series to the end.  

Another part of the skillful way Snyder tells her story is her description of the magic in this world.  Because of the fact that it is set in a world devastated by a plague that wiped out most of the population, you are discovering the extent and limits of different types of magic as the characters do, even though the magic system is long-established in the world.  The characters are mostly young and much knowledge was lost with the plague, so it feels natural to be rediscovering it.  The unique plants in this world, the lilies, are almost a character themselves and their description and role in the plot is fascinating.

The story in this book departs from the more linear nature of the first book by splitting up two of the main characters, Avry and Kerrick.  Each pursue separate paths through most of the novel which leads to new discoveries and new angles to advance the overall plot.

The characters themselves are largely well-fleshed out and distinct, making them easy to care about and root for.  Maria Snyder’s writing has an effortless feel to it which really keeps the pages turning.  There is never a lull.  Those who enjoyed the first book won’t be disappointed by this second entry, and will eagerly await the next volume.  If you haven’t discovered Maria Snyder yet, do so now.  You won’t be disappointed.  Highly recommended.

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