Sunday, December 28, 2008

Poison Study and Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Back Blurb for Poison Study-

Murder, mayhem and magic...

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die--but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster--chosen to ensure tha the Commander's food is not poisoned--has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed--me--must be offered the position.

I remember when these books first came out a couple of years ago. I cannot tell you how many times I picked them up, read the back blurb, only to put them down again. It wasn't until recently, when those evil women over at the Book Smugglers talked about them, that I decided to pick them up.

When they first came out, they were shelved under Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but now they're being reissued as young adult, but I found them in the romance section. It'd be nice if book sellers would figure out EXACTLY where to shelve books. *sigh*

My thoughts on Poison Study...

I really enjoyed this book. It's told in first-person by Yelena, the heroine. When the book first opens, she's on death row (or this world's version of it anyway) and she's dealing with the idea of being put to death. She knows that killing Reyad, the son of a general was a dumb idea, but at the time of his murder, she'd been pushed too far and it was self-defense. Unfortunately, due to the laws of her country, it doesn't matter and she'd to die.

And then everything gets turned upside down. The Commander's food-taster has died and since she's the next one to die, she is offered the position. Not being an idiot, she says yes. Of course, because she could ingest poison at any time and die anyway, she still might die quickly.

From that point forward, the book gets a bit insane. Valek, her trainer, is an interesting character. He's so cold and formal when the book first opens. He's a hard character to read and it's interesting to watch the give and take between him and Yelena.

This book has quite a bit of adventure to it. I finished it at 1:30 this morning and promptly picked up Magic Study (if that tells you anything).

I greatly enjoyed the world that Ms. Snyder has created. Its rich detail and many differences gives it a freshness that I haven't seen in a long time. Can't recommend this series enough.

My Rating: B+

Back Blurb for Magic Study--

A lesson in loyalty--a master class in intrigue

So far, I've managed to survive. You would think after being kidnapped as a child, imprisoned in my teens and released to become a poison taster, I would have endured enough. But no. The discovery of my magic abilities--powers forbidden in Ixia--has resulted in an execution order. My only chance is to flee to Sitia, my long-lost birthplace.

But Sitia is unfamiliar. I'm treated like an enemy--even by my own brother. Plus I can't control my powers. I want to learn about my magic, but there isn't any time. A rogue magician has emerged and I'm targeted as his next victim.

Will my magical abilities save me...or be my downfall?

Whoo-boy. Let me just tell you that I was up until 5 this morning reading this book. As soon as I was done reading Poison Study, I automatically picked this one up.

After everything that happened at the end of Poison Study, Yelena's life gets totally turned on its head. With an execution order hanging over her head, she goes with her mentor to Sitia to return some children that were taken and to find out if she can find her natural family.

I really feel for Yelena. Her life has never been easy and watching her struggle to fit in with her real family is almost heartbreaking. She so desperately wants it all to be real, but is afraid that things will fall apart...again.

Dealing with a mother, father and brother that she can't remember is interesting to say the least. Her brother is...a jerk. I didn't like him at all until the very, very end of the book. It takes forever, but he finally redeems himself.

Valek and the others are back in this book as well. What I like about this series is, even though it can be downright dark and depressing, Ms. Snyder uses a great deal of humor to break up the moments of darkness. It's quite entertaining to watch her put certain people in their place.

This book also deals with her burgeoning magic. The one complaint I have about this whole series (and it's not even that big of a complaint) is that Yelena tends to not think before she does something pretty major. I can understand why she has a hard time trusting people to help her, but there are times when she's just on the edge of being TSTL. Thank goodness she doesn't step over that line, but she does get pretty close.

These books are hard to review in the sense that I can't go into a lot of detail without risk of dropping spoilers, but I will say that these books are so much fun to read! Action, adventure, romance, magic, sword-fights...I kind of feel like I'm describing The Princess Bride (anyone know what I reference when I say that?). I really can't recommend them enough. Now, I just have go find a copy of Fire Study. :)

My Rating: A-


Amy C said...

I've seen the Princess Bride a few times--years ago. There are a few scenes that stick out from the movie. I think I need to buy it so I can watch it again.

As for the Study books. I have a friend who has suggested them to me for quite sometime. I always pass on them because of the first person writing. I think I may have to pick up the first one and at least have it on the shelf, so if the urge should come to read it, I have it.

Carolyn Jean said...

I have the same thing - I always meant to read these. I must. Thanks for the great review.

Marg said...

I really enjoyed these two books as well, and have even given the first one as gifts to a couple of reader friends! I really need to hurry up and read the third book. I own it, and have done for a while.

orannia said...

I finished Fire Study on the weekend and enjoyed all three books immensely! I do agree about the first person though....