It had been awhile since I read Scent of Magic, the second book in Maria V. Snyder's Healer series. With a huge cast of characters and a shifting set of alliances, I was a bit worried that I would be hopelessly lost as I began this final book in the trilogy. I was a huge fan of the first two books of the series, however, so despite my fear I jumped right in. I was happy that Snyder quickly got me back up to pace, gently reminding me of important plot events of previous books so that I could remember exactly who everyone was and how they related to one another. This was a nice end to the trilogy ... nice in that everyone who you hoped would get a Happily Ever After ending gets their Happily Ever After ending. There are no loose ends in this finale ... well, not a lot of loose ends. It should have been a satisfying conclusion story. But it wasn't. It was nice, but only nice. That is a huge downgrade from the megalove I felt for the first books in this series.
The great characters have always driven this series, and although they are present in this book, I don't believe that it is the characters that dominate this story. Sure, they are there, but really this is a book full of plot after plot after plot to either rescue someone or overthrow an evil leader. The characters are important only because they are pawns in these plots. If you are a reader who really, really gets into battle plans and methods you might really enjoy seeing how this story plays out. But if you are a reader who is more drawn to emotional connections and character growth, you might be disappointed in this last novel of the Healer series. I didn't really sense a lot of character growth at all. In the other two books of the series there was either personal growth or romantic growth or friendship growth going on, but in this one it seemed as if the characters were already established as much as they were going to be and only needed to be there in order to do their duties and find a way to bring peace back to this crazy world.
Kerrick was always a favorite character of mine in the past two stories, but in this book he was weakened so much. His personality became softer, less rough around the edges, and it harmed his overall effectiveness as a lead character. Avry became almost infuriating to me. I know that her stubbornness was highlighted in past books, but in this book it seemed as if she was always making extremely selfish decisions. Instead of thinking about the greater good of the realms she was thinking about her own feelings about people. Sure, I'm glad her stubbornness kept important people alive, but for a book that focuses so much on military strategy it seemed as if she was a horrible strategist for half the story.
To be honest, I think that the thing that really harmed this story was the lack of villains. Oh, they are there, and there are a lot of them, but they are in the background for too much of this story. Tohon was such a wonderfully written villain in the past books of this series because he was so, so bad and yet he could seem so, so good. Scary. In this book he is relegated to dreams and strategy guesses for almost the entire book. That is unfortunate. The Skeleton King, Wynn, Jael, Sepp ... all of these "bad guys" were bad in their own ways, but they were never exactly focused on for much of the story. And then, when they eventually met their untimely ends it was so sudden. If it was so easy to get rid of these horrible people, why did it take three books to do it? I would have been happier with a more central villain who was present for more of the story.
So I guess I would say that I was disappointed in this last book of the series, especially when compared to the first two books. I do recommend this series, though. Although I wasn't thrilled with how the eventual HEA came to pass, I do think that the setup to this finale was brilliant, two books that I really enjoyed. Others may not be as turned off as I am by a book that focuses so much on military strategy, and they might end up really loving this final book. I'll let you decide. But for me this one ends up with three stars. I liked it.