Touch of Salar is the perfect illustration of an okay read : a little bit good and a little bit bad, by any means not a failure, but not a success either, somewhat wandering in a kind of Purgatory for books, always halfway between satisfying and frustrating.
This story is a pleasant surprise, at first. It is set in a fantasy world that is not detailed but still coherent, mostly built on the battle between Good and Evil. Somewhere in this world, M’Lan lives in a secluded monastery, protective and dangerous at once, a microcosm holding the balance between the light of Salar and the darkness of the snake God Ka’alar. Nothing new, but the concept proved itself entertaining.
M’lan’s monastery welcomes wounded warriors and M’lan is a gifted monk using the light of Salar in his touch to heal them back to the battlefield. Again, nothing new, but again, entertaining.
The writing is fluid and pleasant, the story well tought out. The author mixed massage porn fantasies for the smut with a little bit of power play and a drop of dub con for the edge, used astutely inserted flashbacks to add a plot line about long-past festering wounds and the healing process of an emotionally stunned assassin for the conflict, and wrapped it all in political machinations for the thrill.
And still, things didn’t work out for me. Love ruined the story. A cold assassin and a reluctant monk are frolicking in a forbidden and dangerous affair in the first half of the book, lovebirds are angsting and dreaming of domestic bliss in the second half, and nothing happens in-between except being informed of an epiphany and deducing the other. A couple of chapters are obviously missing; where the heck is my character development?!
That’s where the story lost me, right at its turning point. Not only couldn’t I buy the romance, but it also discredited all the further developments that I found rushed and relying a bit too much on ‘take it like it is’. I don’t know whether it is a manifestation of the first-book-in-a-series syndrome or it is just the downside of its short length, but it sure sounds like it is hastily setting the scene for forthcoming books instead of delivering an accomplished story on its own.
To conclude and resume, Touch of Salar is neither bad nor good, with a little bit of both, and most of all with a great deal of holes and shortcomings that made me feel like I glided through a story without finding any kind of grip despite enjoying it in part, and thus, turned an overall enjoyable read into something perfunctory and forgettable. It’s a case of the glass being half-full or half-empty, and this being an issue will totally depend on your weariness with okay reads, I guess.