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Review: Magic Study - Maria V. Snyder


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Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: {★★★★☆}

Young Adult Fantasy
Published September 2009 by Harlequin Enterpises (Australia) Ptd Ltd

Source: Borrowed

You know your life is complicated when you miss your days as a poison taster...

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be united with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But although she has gained her freedom, she once again finds herself alone - separated from her lover Valek and suspected as a spy for her reluctance to conform to Sitian ways.

Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training - especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes embroiled in a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince - and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.

If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.

I have to admit that this book isn't as strong as the first in the series and yet I still really enjoyed it. There was something about it that made me reminiscent for Tamora Pierce's Tortall books (which I adore!).

There are some great complex characters in this series and increasingly complex world building although it's less tightly plotted than the first book which is probably where the letdown was for me. I'm still rating it highly though as I still really enjoyed the book.

There's a lot more magic in this one although this coincided (very sadly) with a lot less Valek. Although he does make a few appearances he isn't as much a central character as he was in the first book.

I enjoy that Valek is who he is - he's a seasoned assassin and makes no apologies for that or where his loyalties lie. Not only that, through-out the series there are displays of his calculating and ruthless personality and he does actually kill people. It's not a matter of it being stated over and over again that he is an assassin and yet his personality doesn't fit the profile. There's obviously character growth and development but it's a believable amount. It wouldn't be right if everything changed just because of "love".

The story is fast paced and there's a lot of action all over. As I mentioned there's a lot more magic as Yelena is exploring the capacity and the depth of her power (I always love reading that trope!). We're also in Sitia where magicians haven't been killed off by previously mentioned assassin and there's an entire society of magicians. I particularly loved the Sandseeds and the Avibian plains. There was something about their ways and their culture that made me want to read more and more about them.

Speaking of cultures, Snyder has managed to create a wonderfully diverse fantasy world and enriched this with various tribes and people, customs and cultures. I love how well thought out the entire world is and that the world building is becoming more and more advanced throughout each book.

I was also thrilled to see that Snyder didn't use a love triangle in this book at all although for a minute there I was worried and the field really was wide open. It was just so refreshing to have great character relationships and for them to remain 'pure'.

The only thing I'm not sure about was the fact that if you ask me who my favourite character was in this book I might have to turn around and tell you it was the horse (but seriously, she was fantastic)!

“Living is a risk . . . Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a risk. To survive is to know you're taking that risk and to not get out of bed clutching illusions of safety.”


Poison Study (Study #1) -- Fire Study (Study #3)→