Sentinels of the Galaxy by Maria V. Snyder

NavigatingTheStarsNavigating the Stars (Sentinels of the Galaxy, book 1)
by Maria V. Snyder

chasing the shadowsChasing the Shadows (Sentinels of the Galaxy, book 2)
by Maria V. Snyder

Every so often I see that this author has written the start of a new series and I go to check it out. It’s always worth checking out and I really enjoyed this one, which is more science fiction than her normal fantasy, and also slightly younger with our main character still a minor under her parents’ guardianship. She also has all the internal emotional drama of a teenager while being remarkably mature about dealing with that emotional drama. I like her.

I also really liked the world building which has archeology and distant planets and potential aliens and reminds me of The Ship Who Searched by Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey. I was also reminded of Artemis but in the way of: this is how an extremely smart and talented but still inexperienced girl is written without being irritating.

One of the really interesting parts of the book, that’s both the premise and woven through the narrative is how the time distortion of space travel effects relationships and experiences.

The one downside of this book is that it does the thing that’s increasingly a pet peeve of mine: has only a minor conclusion at the end of the book, to create some sense of closure, while actually just being the first part of a larger plot arch. It’s annoying. However, in this instance, it worked and I pretty much immediately bought the sequel.

And then about halfway through Chasing the Shadows, the pandemic hit and my ability to concentrate on reading also took a hit. So I took a break and read a massive amount of self-indulgent fanfic instead before coming back to this and finishing it for completeness.

It was more of a slog than the first book, but that could very well have been just my state of mind. However, I’d noticed in previous series that Snyder’s first books are a lot better than her follow-up books as she delves ever more into complex world building beyond what the characters can support and raises the stakes of the conflict beyond what I can follow. However, it did end with an interesting twist that probably means that I’ll go back for book #3 in the series whenever it comes out.

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power
Maria Snyder

I read the first few (short) chapters on Amazon, got hooked, checked the book out from the library and read it in an evening. It was a fun light read that was pretty much just what I needed to relax with. It’s one of those books that balances between being a fantasy-adventure novel with a strong romance plot line and being a romance novel with a strong fantasy-adventure plotline.

I believe this is the second fantasy universe for this author, and while the universes have distinct rules of magic and society, the character dynamics in Touch of Power were really similar to those in Poison Study (the first book in the other universe). If you like the one, you’ll probably like the other, (I certainly did) but go in expecting the same type of thing rather than anything spectacularly new or inventive.

The plot is a really common one for romance novels: There are two secretly awesome people – sometimes their awesome is secret from the world, other times their awesome is just secret from each other – who each feel that the other person has wronged them in some way. They then proceed to act either aggressively or passive aggressively at each other in response and things escalate until a final showdown reveals that they have both misunderstood the situation and wronged the other, not in the original perceived acts but in their responses. This can be written at various levels of quality, but when done well it’s a wonderfully self-indulgent bit of character drama. When done poorly, it convinces me that both characters are judgmental idiots. Snyder does one of the better jobs of writing this plot line (although no where near as good as Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice) and manages to largely avoid the pitfall of idiocy.

In this book, Healers with magical healing abilities have been blamed for the great plague that swept the land and thus they are generally killed on sight. Our heroine is a Healer and our hero is a guy who badly needs someone healed and will do whatever it takes to help his friend. Under the circumstances, you can see why they start off with the wrong impression of each other. It was a great deal of fun seeing the characters struggle to work together and waiting to see when the big reveal would happen.

I’ll discuss that  a little more under the spoiler cut, but in general, this is a fun book. I enjoyed it and I recommend it the same way I would recommend a summer blockbuster or a soap opera. It’s not high literature, but I’m rarely in the mood for high literature. It’s fun and relaxing and should be enjoyed as such.

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