Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publication: Mira; Original edition (December 20, 2011)
Description: Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, 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—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. Because the price of peace may well be her life….
My Thoughts: Maria V. Snyder has created an extraordinary fantasy world filled with characters we can care about. Avry is on the run. She is a healer in a world that blames healers for the plague that devastated the world killing a huge number of the people and leaving the remaining people in a state of political chaos. When she heals a little girl and is turned in by the girl's father, she is scheduled to be killed by guillotine.
When she is broken out of jail by a group of men that wants her to heal someone, she is at first reluctant to go along. She had reconciled herself to dying and was just tired of the constant running. But her will to live kicks in and she goes with them. Than she finds out who they want her to heal. Ryne is the ruler of one of the realms. She has met him before when he tried to coerce her mentor into healing his sister and who spread the rumor that healers caused the plague when she refused. He is also the one who owned the mine where Avry's father and older brother worked until the mine collapsed killing them. She refuses to heal him.
The leader of the band who freed Avry from jail is determined to bring her to Ryne and is willing to do anything to get her to heal him. He doesn't know that healers don't survive healing someone with the plague. Avry does. Avry and Kerrick begin their relationship badly. She hates him and he doesn't care for her either beyond being a means to an end. They are constantly sparring verbally. But at the same time, Avry does become close to Kerrick's band of rogues. It is the first time she has allowed herself to care for anyone since the plague ruined her life.
Avry gradually becomes aware of the bigger political situation which she didn't care about when her only care was to survive. Now she becomes involved in the whole political mess. Kerrick supports Ryne who is opposed by Tolon. Tolon is using his magic to create an army of the dead and is a really scary sociopath. Kerrick, Ryne, Tolon and a few other characters have all known each other since they were sent to the boarding school where the children of rulers went to learn to rule. They were fierce rivals there and now the rivalry has gone beyond children's games to playing with real lives. Avry decides to heal Ryne even at the cost of her life because he is the best hope for the survival of the world.
The mystical aspect of this story has to do with some people with magical gifts - Avry who can heal by taking the illness or injury into herself, Tolon who can reanimate the dead, and Kerrick who has forest magic and the ability to sense anyone in a forest and to camouflage himself within it. It also has to do with some semi-sentient plants called Death Lilies and Peace Lilies whose role in the world is just beginning to be known.
I recommend this story to fantasy lovers and will be looking forward to Avry's second story - Scent of Magic - which is coming in 2013.
"He said nothing to me," I said. "Why would I be upset?" Aside from the dozen soldiers behind us.I bought this one. You can get yours at Amazon too.
She pursed her full lips, considering. "Because I might steal him back."
I laughed. "Please do. He's been a pain in my ass for the past two months."