3.5 stars. While this book has its charms, it's overall a disappointing followup to its brilliant predecessor, Touch of Power. While I adored the first book, this follow-up frustrated me for three primary reasons:1. Avry has no flaws. She is brilliant, brave, witty, great at making friends, a fantastic teacher, and of course an excellent healer. I think that Ms. Snyder intended her character flaw to be "too selfless"--she's always wanting to rush out into danger in order to help others. But, uh, what the hell kind of flaw is that? It's like in job interviews when they ask for your weaknesses, and the stupid candidates say something like, "I'm just too darned hard-working!" No. Just no.2. The first book was in first person from Avry's point of view. In this book, she tosses in a third person narration so she can follow Kerrick on his adventures in the north. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? It seems like every other book I pick up these days alternates between first person and third person, and I HATE IT. It's either a crutch, as in the case of this book where Ms. Snyder wanted to maintain her first person narration while not losing Kerrick, or it's done for no reason whatsoever that I can discern. Advice to authors: If you have to follow two or more characters, YOU DON'T NEED TO USE TWO DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW MODES. REALLY. If you can't make your narrators different enough so that we can tell who the focal character is, you aren't doing your job.3. While Maria V. Snyder has always prided herself on her cliffhanger chapter endings, for the most part, her books have been fairly self-contained. I approve. Every book should have a book-level plot arc that's wrapped up by the end, regardless of the continuing series arc. In this book, she breaks that wonderful streak by ending with the cliffhangeriest cliffhanger ever. *sigh* I am so disappointed in you, Ms. Snyder. There was no reason to do that.So while there were parts of this book that I enjoyed (3.5 stars isn't terrible, after all), I was really disappointed that the book didn't live up to my expectations.