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The Shifter

(Healing Wars #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,922 ratings  ·  475 reviews
Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers' League apprentices, Nya's skill is flawed: She can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All sh ...more
Library Binding, 370 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen (first published September 28th 2009)
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Rachel Katherine If she wore pants, there would be that much more attention drawn to her. that many more glares, 'where are your parents', and so much more distain. Sh…moreIf she wore pants, there would be that much more attention drawn to her. that many more glares, 'where are your parents', and so much more distain. She already can't go into places with bloody clothes, imagine if she wore something unorthodox. in a life where you need to get in and out of places quickly, blending helps heaps.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,922 ratings  ·  475 reviews

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Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Classified as Young Adult fantasy but there is still plenty in it for older adults. I enjoyed it very much.
The world building is done competetently and cleverly. We often come across healers in fantasy novels but these healers actually absorb and hold their patients pain until they can move it on into a kind of magic rock. You can imagine the difficulties this could incur!
Our main character is a strong, feisty young woman who (naturally) has greater powers than anyone else but is only just begin
It took a little bit to pinpoint what bothered me about this book. It had an interesting concept, but it fell flat for me throughout the entirety of the book, and even when I finished reading it I just sort of stared, shrugged, and felt kind of 'meh'.

What bugged me, I think, is that while I love action, I love racing from scene to scene and one crisis to another, there was little other than that. Plot is good. Lots of plot is good. But if you overwhelm the story with what you (the author) want
Kirsty (Amethyst Bookwyrm)
Nya, an orphan who is struggling to survive, is an unusual taker, unlike most takers, including her sister Tali, she cannot push the pain she heals from someone into pynvium but into another person. With another war on the horizon she is desperate for work and food but doesn’t want to be used as a weapon. When Nya’s sister disappears along with other league healers, Nya has to make a difficult choices and bargains, but are they worth the cost?

The Shifter is an enjoyable YA fantasy book and while
K.M. Weiland
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
From the very first scene, I knew I was safely in the hands of an author who knew what she was doing. Hardy weaves a nice tale based on a charmingly unique and possibility-ridden premise: what if healing hurt? She creates a convincing little cosmos for her characters, raises the stakes high from the beginning, and keeps the action rolling from page one. I appreciated that she presents her main character with tough choices and makes her live through their consequences. Gorgeous cover too!
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Description from the book jacket: “Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker — with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and other Takers who become Healers’ League apprentices, Nya’s skill is flawed: She can’t push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from f ...more
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Shifter is a lovely change of pace from standard fantasy fare – no knights here, and no vampires, werewolves, or witches either. Instead I found a fascinating world, where Healers are a magic resource that can be used to fuel a war, where the politics of conquest cause poverty and helplessness, and where a war-made orphan is determined to do whatever is necessary to save her sister.

The loss of everything she ever had is the crucible that molded Nya, a desperate and determined girl. Her matte
Chris Cutler
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, owned
From reading the dust jacket I already loved the magic system. By half-way through chapter 1 I was smiling along with the voice of the book, and by the end of the chapter I was impressed with the pacing of the story. The rest of the book was just as good.

One of the really great things about this book is that the characters are entirely self-consistent. Their actions may not always be expected, but to a point they make sense based on who the character is, including age, personality, and motivatio
I really was completely indifferent to most of this story. I skimmed the better part of the book after establishing the main characters and who I needed to follow.

Not that entertaining at all until the last five minutes where there was a hint of interest from the MC to the one guy I preferred. It might be enough for me to read the next one if it's free.

Jodi Meadows
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome! Quick pace, good plot, fantastic voice.
Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)
3.5 Stars

Full Review:
This was a bit of an out-of-the-norm read for me because middle grade is not my preferred genre, and high fantasy is not my preferred genre, so middle grade high fantasy is really not my preferred genre. But I had my reasons for wanting to try this series, and I ended up really enjoying it! I found myself laughing, being drawn to the characters, and reading each book in just a day or two because I had to know what was going to happen.

The first great thing I noticed when I st
Lisa Nocita
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Nya is a taker. She can take pain, illness, and injury from those who are afflicted with a touch. Her father was an enchanter, one who prepared the rock to hold such misery, and her mother was a healer. Her grandmother held the highest office before their country was conquered by a power hungry, land grabbing duke. The world is a harsh place for those on the bottom rungs of the social order; the new regime is unfriendly to the native inhabitants. Only the healers still have a useful and much nee ...more
3.5 stars. The Shifter reminded me a little bit of Touch of Power by Maria Snyder, but it's more of a middle grade book.

I really liked the main character and her struggle with her healing ability. There are some heartbreaking things that happen and that's when I felt the most connection to the story. The supporting characters were also all good.

The story is written more simply because it's middle grade and that is one reason I'm not always a fan of reading middle grade books. Just a teeny bit
Lala_Loopsie [fire breathing B!tch Queen]
This book just was NOT what I expected. I expected a girl who didnt know what to do with herself, living off her sister´s money. Not a girl making a living doing differnt jobs. The book was quite good. I just didnt like the (view spoiler). I just hope I can read the next books in the series.

P.D. This is the 3rd book i finished reading today (this was useless information brought to you by lala_loopsie)

THANKSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS for this Goodreads!!!!!!!
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very original and very exciting to read. It is one of those books where, you read the blurb and think this seems like it might be ok so you buy it, and when you start reading you cannot put it down! I quickly bought the rest of the series. I recommend this book to people who like fantasy.
Jan 28, 2016 marked it as deals  ·  review of another edition
28 January 2016: $3.99 on Kindle ...more
More like a 2.5 Star read since it teeters very much in the "MEH" category. But I have to admit that once the show got going, I found enough enjoyment in it to continue reading the rest of the series. At the very least, there's a sense of, "Hmm, what's next?" going on here.

The characters weren't relatable; the heroes were flat and unexciting and the villains were kind of comical (I kept envisioning a creepy looking dude with a curling mustache and twirling it while plotting to do evil). The worl
Karin Leifler
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I liked most about this book was that it felt fresh and unique. The main character, Nya, has the ability to heal people´s injuries by touching them. However, her ability is flawed, since she can not transfer the pain into the material, pynvium, that the healers in this fantasy world use to get rid of the pain they have collected from their patients. I have not come across a book where magical healing is written about in this way, as not purely good but as something that can be used for sini ...more
Samantha (Book Lover's Cozy Cafe)
This book was kind of similar to the Poison Study and Glass Study books written by Maria V. Snyder. But instead of people having different magics, these people only had Takers or Healers as some are called. They are able to take pain out of people and put it into a thing called pynvium. Nya though is special, she can take pain away just like her younger sister Talia, but she can't put the pain into the pynvium, she can transfer pain from one person to another. Neat little weapon if you piss her ...more
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
When Healers lay hands on injured people they can absorb the injury and pain into their own bodies, and later move it from themselves into a stone called pynvium. At least they can in the medieval fantasy world created by Janice Hardy in her middle grade novel, The Shifter, due out in October.

The story centers around 15 year old Nya who is a Healer...but with a defect. She can only shift the pain and injury into other people, not pynvium. This little 'quirk' is something she and her younger sist
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading the above blurb, I was so excited to begin The Pain Merchants. I thought the premise sounded fascinating and also thought-provoking. I found myself wondering about the moral implications of having an ability like the main character Nya. Why would you remove a person's pain just to give it to another person? Can purposefully causing another person pain ever be acceptable or morally right? I had expectations that The Pain Merchants would make me face ethical dilemmas and consider the ...more
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
The Shifter by Janice Hardy

This was a YA I had been wanting to read and a friend lent it to me. It opens in a place that reminds me of eighteenth century Europe right down to various dukes invading and conquering their neighbors. It opens in conquered Geveg centering on Nya, a young woman living hand to mouth after the death of her parents and grandmother during the war (that the Gevegians lost). Her sister Tali is a little luckier, having a magical ability to heal people by drawing out their pa
Reading Sarah
Jul 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, family, teens, ya
In Nya's world pain is a product to be bought and sold. Many people, including Nya, can take pain and heal. Unlike most people though, Nya can't transfer the pain into the Pynvium stone that is later shaped into pain-dealing weapons. Nya is instead, a Shifter, she can act as a conduit, shifting pain from one person to another, sometimes holding the pain to herself for a time. She's unusual and dangerous and valuable to those who lack scruples enough to use her when the Pynvium supply runs low.

Dec 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, fantasy
Ages 10+ (one "ass", violence, general complexity)

I'm not sure what to think about this one. It's hard to wrap my head around genuine world-built fantasy sometimes (although I have no problem with science fiction, huh). New vocabulary must be absorbed, passages demand re-reading in order to understand them. But the story of Nya, an orphan in an defeated and culturally oppressed country, is terribly intriguing.

See, Nya is from a family of Healers, folks with a magical bent who can absorb pain a
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I was excited to read this book. I hadn't read a story like this before, with healers drawing pain unto themselves (although I have heard of A Touch of Power).

It was a nice story and action-packed. I liked the protagonist, Nya, although I don't like her name. She's strong and independent, a good female heroine. She was also fiercely protective of her sister, and willing to do everything in order to protect her family. Definitely an admirable trait. The other characters were also fun and didn't j
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I cannot stress enough how awesome this book was! Nya is a tortured character that not only possesses immense resolve and determination, but an honor and goodness that is refreshing, though throughout the book she is faced with the hardest choices I can immagine, still at the end of the story you love her despite her myriad flaws.

Nya is a fifteen year old orphan who has been landed with way too many responsibilites these range from her own saftey, work, food and board to being her si
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is written in the main character Nya's point of view. This book reminded me of how some people will do anything to protect there friends and family. Throughout the story Nya does many things that if word got around would put her in danger and chased by the healers league for shifting. Nya and her sister Tali are orphans from the war but Nya has to life on the streets because she can't feel pynium. One day when her sister goes missing she ends up putting her life on the line. She makes ...more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I've had a hard time finding a good fantasy book in the YA genre. Some are too long winded and stale, some are too full of angst and drama, and others are just plain boring. The Shifter is unique and full of action. For once I actually care about the different backgrounds of the characters and the different factions. There wasn't a single thing I wasn't interested in in this book. I wish this book was more talked about and suggested. I stumbled upon it by chance at the library and I wish I had h ...more
May 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
I have mixed feelings about this book. I saw this book back in February of 2013, but dismissed it. Later on, (this week) I found the author's website that helped writers write better.I found her website helpful and insightful. That's when I decided to see what she wrote. Incidentally, I was led right back to this book.

This book is upper middle grade, and isn't very long (compared to YA for older audiences). The world it is built in is very imaginative and creative. Originality is harder and har
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In her novel "The Shifter", Janice Hardy writes a captivating story that evokes countless emotions from the reader. With its complex plot, this book includes many surprises that keep the reader intrigued. The story focuses on Nya, a teenage girl with irregular talents, as she struggles to survive as a Taker (someone who takes pain and passes it on). When she is forced to use her dangerous ability in order to help save her sister, Tali, the plot focuses on her physical struggles as well as her em ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Shifter is a definitely interesting read. We are introduced into a world where the citizens rely heavily on healers and pyruvium. I quite liked this book because we got to understand how the decisions we make can have a big impact on those around us. I enjoyed the way the book was written because as the reader we are able to experience the difficulty a child has in making decisions which not only affect herself and her sister but also the other unsuspecting citizens of their country.
I can s
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Janice Hardy is the award-winning author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, including The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins.

She also writes the Grace Harper series for adults under the name, J.T. Hardy.

When she's not writing fiction, she runs the popular writing site Fiction University, and has written multiple books on writing, including Understanding Sh

Other books in the series

Healing Wars (3 books)
  • Blue Fire
  • Darkfall

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