Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #4
Published by MIRA on 2015-02-24
Genres: Fantasy YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from publishers
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Also in this series: Poison Study, Magic Study
New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.
Once, only her own life hung in the balance… Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job and his life are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.
Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous…
Thoughts: Let me start off by saying that I am one of those fans. You know, the one of the fans that loved the Study series but was really disappointed by the final book, Fire Study. I mean, I still recommended the hell out of the series – but always with a caveat. So when I heard about Shadow Study I was both excited and nervous.
Well, I needn’t have worried. While not as stellar as the first book in the series, it was the perfect continuation of a series I had considered complete. For starters, it jumps between Valek and Yelena’s POVs – thus answering all those “but where is VALEK?” questions I had in the other books. Not only do we know where he is and what he is up to, we also get the chance to learn more about his childhood, his relationship with the Commander and his background as an assassin.
Actually, the best scenes in this book were Valek scenes. Watching him – the master of disguise – live as a woman for months in order to sneak up on a mark. Seeing how his priorities begin to shift – from the Commander to Yelena – and the impact of such a decision. From the little details to the big revelations… it was all Valek and glorious and wonderful and I wanted MORE.
Which is probably why I wasn’t quite as enraptured with Yelena’s mystery. I still adore the woman, of course, but I had such faith in her ability to handle things on her own that – well – I wasn’t too concerned about seeing her actually get out of trouble. “You’ll be fine,” I thought, rushing forward to Valek’s next chapter. That’s not to say that plot-line wasn’t good but, hey, I had other things on my mind. *cough* Valek. *cough*
I was also happy to see how Ms. Snyder incorporated her Glass series into the Study series without over or under explaining. I’m afraid I’ve read none of Opal’s books, but I was still able to get the gist of the characters and events. I imagine a lot of fans who skipped those novels will want to give them a go after reading Shadow Study.
Bottom line? Shadow Study was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. Rather than simple fan service, Shadow Study is a solid, plot-heavy and logical continuation to the series. There was always meant to be a fourth book, it seems, and here it is.
Note: I was tempted to take this book down half a star after reading the ending! MAJOR CLIFFHANGER, people, and I do NOT approve! (Though maybe everyone else will love it? I dunno. Either way, I was NOT PREPARED. *cries*)
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #2on 2012-08-15
Genres: High Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Poison Study, Shadow Study
Yelena is a survivor. Kidnapped as a child, held prisoner as a teen, then released to act as a poison taster, she is now a student of magic. But these magic skills place her in imminent danger, and with an execution order on her head, she has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.
But nothing in Sitia is familiar. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her powers, a rogue magician emerges and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in a situation not of her making. And once again her magical abilities will either save her life or be her downfall.
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 involved with 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 all her new enemies.
Thoughts: I absolutely adored Magic Study – this series is definite must!
We are introduced to the diverse, magical world of Sitia – and God is it an amazing place! I am not usually a verse-lover, but Snyder has a way of changing my mind. She also manages to incorporate a few subtle messages about poverty in a capitalist society – there’s no preaching, but she does use the fantasy world to make a point or two about our own society. It’s old school and totally made me smile.
Snyder manages to introduce a variety of different cultures and locations without bogging the book down with information. Same goes for the characters – although there were a lot of new faces, it was never overwhelming.
Luckily, Valek did manage to make his way into the book. I’d been worried about him, and although he is not as central to the plot as he was in Poison Study, he was equally as amazing. Seriously, this man gives me tingles. *sighs* As for Yelena, she now officially joins Mercy (from the Patricia Briggs Series) as a female lead whose judgement I actually trust. And that I like her is a lovely bonus.
Bottom line? The Study Series is a must read! The quality has been consistent as the series goes on – which is a rare gift nowadays. I’d recommend this to everyone I know – romance readers, literary fiction readers, mystery lovers, fantasy addicts… anyone and everyone!
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
The US have stunning adult trade paperbacks – which I have included in my reviews, even though I can’t seem to get my hands on any of them. The series has quite a few editions, and Snyder has conveniently posted all the covers on her site
so that you can choose your favourite. ♥
Series: Study #1
Published by MIRA
Genres: Fantasy YA, High Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
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Also in this series: Magic Study, Shadow 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 that 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.
Thoughts: This book was out-of-this-world amazing!
This was the first pure fantasy book I have read in a LONG while, and it was a great reintroduction to the genre. Heavily plot driven – featuring a lot of death, betrayal, and random attempts of murder – focussing on a heroine who could kick ass without having an ego. Brilliant secondary characters who, luckily, got a fare share of page-time from the author. Also, the love interest? Fierce. There was some serious tension, what with the whole will-he-won’t-he!kill her thing they had going on.
Overall, amazing start to the trilogy. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good plot and a great heroine!