The Healer’s Legacy
by Sharon Skinner
So I bought four books at the Tucson Festival of Books. All independently published, all of them bought directly from the authors (And all the authors signed their books for me, which is excellent.). Unfortunately, two of those books were not very good, and I didn’t finish reading them.
But two of those books were excellent. And interestingly, they were both from the same publishing house, Brick Cave Media. I think those folks have their act together. The first good one was Platinum Magic by Bruce Davis; the second is this one, The Healer’s Legacy by Sharon Skinner.
It’s a high fantasy, swords and sorcery, magical beasts and inhuman races; but like all good fantasy, the setting and the world is only that: the setting. The story is about Kira. And sure, Kira has a psychic connection with a moon cat (Essentially a black panther) and a wyvern (a tiny dragon), and she has training in herbalism and the healing arts; but the main thing is that she is an orphan who was taken in by a healer who made her an apprentice, and when Kira reached her adolescence, she quite naturally rebelled, and ran away from home after an argument; she then met a man. A strong, handsome, dashing man, who swept the young woman off of her feet and made her a princess – because this man is the Warlord, the leader of a mercenary company that fought off an invasion and saved all of the people of the countryside.
But this man is also abusive, violent, unstable, and obsessed with Kira. And that, more than anything else, is the story of this book. Kira manages to escape in the beginning chapters, and then she nearly kills herself throwing off pursuit, because the warlord’s men do not give up, as they know their master will not give up. But Kira does manage to give them the slip, and then, for a while, she finds peace, and what may be a new home – maybe even a new family.
Until the Warlord finds her again. Then she has to decide whether she will run away, or try to stand and fight: the second option is her only hope for a lasting freedom from her abuser, but it is immeasurably more dangerous for her and for the people she’s grown to care about.
And of course I won’t spoil which option she chooses. I will add that there is an additional reason for Kira to be traveling: she isn’t just running away from something terrible, she is also running towards something – the hope that she can find out something about her mother’s people, which is where she got her red hair and green eyes, and might be where she got her psychic ability, as well. And the place where she stays, and where she might decide to make a stand, is not filled only with welcoming kind-hearted folk; she has enemies there, enemies that might even be more dangerous to her than is the warlord himself.
The characters are really good: deep and complex, well-realized and genuine despite being characters in a fantasy novel. There are all the elements of a good story here, and that story dominates, complemented by the fantasy world and the political intrigues and the rest of it. The fantasy world is also good, with an interesting depiction of feudalism and a good use of Kira’s healer training, one which made both the character and the world more relatable and realistic.
It’s a good book. I will be reading the sequel. And also checking out more stuff from Brick Cave Media.