September 20, 2011

From condemned prisoner to food taster for the Commander of Ixia, from apprentice to a charismatic assassin, to warrior with ever-evolving magical powers, Yelena is a remarkable heroine like none you’ve ever experienced. Follow her amazing journey through Maria V. Snyder’s breathtaking fantasy series of Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study as Celeste reviews all three below.

Title: Poison Study (Study Series #1) Publisher: Mira Published: March 1, 2007 (first edition 2005)

Pages: 416

Celeste’s review:5 stars! My friend was after me to read this series for ages, and while I liked the premise it didn’t call me. Boy oh boy was I ever wrong to leave this sitting on my kindle waiting to be read. AMAZING. This story went above and beyond all my expectations.

In the land of Ixia Yelena escapes execution by accepting to serve the Commander as his food taster for poisons. With this new job Yelena gets a new lease on life although many would still like to see her dead. The world created in this novel is fascinating and militaristic, yet still had a soft side to pull me in, not to mention the developing UST with her trainer/boss, Valek, which goes at a very, very, very slow, but delicious burn. I also loved learning about the poisons,the descriptions made me feel as if I was the taster myself.

The beginning and the middle are fairly drawn out, having so much detail but still so well written I could not stop turning the pages. I found myself adoring Yelena, who is a strong character, but certainly not a foolish one. Then let’s talk about the dark and gorgeous Valek, who also happens to be an assassin, but somehow that just added to his appeal. He is quite cold but I could still see his soft spot for Yelena. The ending seemed to go very quickly, almost too fast. I would have almost liked to savor and go a little deeper, but I suspect that is all part of the slow burn I love and will continue with the next books.

Title: Magic Study (Study Series #2) Publisher: Luna Published: October 1, 2006

Pages: 392

Celeste’s review: 4.5 stars This book picks up where Poison Study left off.  Yelena arrives in her homeland of Sitia with her mentor and Master Magician, Irys, to learn to control her magic.  After a reunion with her family she then travels to the Citaldel to begin her studies.  The adventures and danger begin almost immediately as Yelena makes her journey. She meets a lot of new people but I was thrilled to see so many of the wonderful characters from the last book make appearances here, like Ari and Janco. Kiki, Yelena’s horse, is one of my favorite characters I met in this book. She is invaluable to Yelena.

A few times in this novel I felt as though the heroine made a few foolish decisions. Her magical powers were amazing and she was successful, but sometimes not as smart as she seemed in Poison Study. However, it was not enough to make me dislike her or stop reading, it just made her more real brave as she tried to do the best she could.

This book has plenty of detailed writing, which makes every scene so vivid you feel like you are there. There is no shortage of suspense to keep you turning the pages into the night. and of course, the appearance of Valek was long overdue as I missed him very much!  While it was wonderful, the concept of Poison Study was just a little bit more intriguing.

Title: Fire Study (Study #3) Published: March 1, 2008 Publisher: Mira

Pages: 448

Celeste’s review: 4 stars This story continues with Yelena’s journey and shows her fierce independence. We also begin to get clues as to what her special magical “gift” is. It turns out her her magic is extremely strong and that frightens many in the Sitian council. She is soon sent as a diplomat to rivaling nation, Ixia, where she is torn between her love of order in Ixia and loyalty to her homeland of Sitia.

This book also tests the love between Yelena and Valek. I still adored him and was glad he appeared in this book so much more. I love his confidence, his ability to always survive, and he always comes to the rescue. His unwavering loyalty to the Commander is part of what makes him  who he is. We do find out more about his personal life, which I was thrilled about since he is always about business.

While I loved the book, it did seem to drag on at times, repeat many times and stray from the story a bit. However, the ending was just what I need to be satisfied that it is a great conclusion for this series.

If you liked this series you might want to check out the short stories that go along with it. They can be found on Maria V. Snyder’s website:
Assasin Study (Study #1.5)
Power Study (Study #3.5)
Ice Study (Study #4)

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