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  1. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    After spending almost a year in prison for the murder of the son of one of Ixia's generals, the day of Yelena's execution is finally upon her. But instead of being sent straight to the noose she is made an offer. Either she can go straight to her execution or she can delay her death by taking up the job as the Commander Ambrose's food taster. Yelena accepts the chance to extend her life, even if it means that she is awaiting death by some horrible poison instead of the noose. She begins training to identify deadly poisons under the guidance of Valek who poisons her with Butterfly Dust, ensuring that she does not attempt escape as she must report to him daily for the antidote. However, poison is not the only threat that Yelena is faced with. General Brazell still wants her dead for the murder of his son, a powerful magician from Sitia is after her, and she and Valek are sure that there is a conspiracy brewing within Ixia's government.

    From very early into the book I could tell that I was going to like Poison Study. For Snyder's first publication, she has carefully crafted a world and it's political climate for me to imagine without making it over complicated. I found the novel to be very well paced overall, from the spacing of events, the release of information, to the development of characters relationships. I don't really like it when an author does an "information dump". I remember when I was kid and reading books such as, say, The Baby Sitters Club novels, I would always skip the chapter in every book where we were told that "this is this character and that is that character and we are all here because..." Boring. I much prefer exploring a world alongside the characters and learning about these characters as we go and I thought that Snyder did this well.

    Poison Study hosts a diverse range of characters. Yelena, haunted by Reyad's ghost yet determined to survive, often irritating Margg, Rand prone to mood swings but sweet regardless, and of course Ari and Janco - "the power team". I found myself becoming particularly fond of Valek, subtle but powerful, and it was easy to find myself rooting for a romantic relationship between him and Yelena but with Snyder still able to keep me guessing where their relationship would develop.

    If I were to nitpick at anything, there were a few instances where I felt that some of her words of choice were a bit too modern day for her setting and seemed out of place. The other thing is that I would have liked a clearer description of the factory. Snyder's world doesn't seem very high tech but the word factory, in my mind at least, again conjures an image of something more modern which is only enhanced by the description of items being "conveyored" over to their next destination in the factory and there are "steel rollers crushing" things. "Conveyored" of course makes me think of conveyor belts although I know it doesn't have to mean that and I suppose that the rollers could be man operated but I would have liked some better word choice for clarity here.

    Overall I thouroughly enjoyed Poison Study and have already picked up the sequels, Magic Study and Fire Study, from the library to get stuck into. Go to Snyder's website to check out some of her short stories as well. The short story Powder Study, about Ari and Janco, is already available and Assassin Study, about Valek, is listed as coming soon. You can also sign up for Snyder's free e-mail newsletter for news and updates, deleted scenes, short stories, story previews, author interviews and more.

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  2. 8 comments:

    1. Hello Terra

      I kid you not, I just finished Poison Study this morning and found it great. Bought it yesterday from Big W ($13ea!). LOVED the mix of assassination/poison, martial arts, magic and political intrigue.

      I also enjoyed how their magic was more psionic/psychic than fireballs and lightning from the fingertips.

      I bought the 2nd book Magic Study this afternoon, up to page 20. Pity the 3rd book FIRE STUDY isn't in Aust yet (well I can't find it at Borders, Dymocks etc!) but I hope it is soon!

      I thought Yelena, Valak, and her training partners were great characters. Looking forward to see what this book brings!

      Also, I pretty much guessed the truth about the Butterfly Dust straight from the start. Did you?

      I'll be doing a review of his book on my blog over the weekend.

      I enjoyed your review :)

    2. Furthermore mine copies didn't come with the covers that you have on your blog. Sad to say but mine seem kinda TWILIGHTISH, with lower case titles, black background and some different colour swirly design on the front. It also prevented me from picking the first book up, but I'm glad I did !

    3. Terra said...

      You mean this ( cover? I've seen it in the shops and the cover was the only thing that stopped me making an impulse buy. I've borrowed it out from the library instead. It's the Australian cover so I think that if I actually end up purchasing this series I will be ordering one of the different cover sets in. My library had obviously gotten the books in from overseas (I took out the entire trilogy) and has had Fire Study since last year according to the stamp.

      I'm getting sick of all these covers that are trying to mimic Twilight. As someone who isn't dazzled by Twilight, so to speak, I'm finding all these "Twilightish" covers a major turnoff.

      I have to somewhat shamefully confess that I did not guess about the Butterfly Dust which was silly of me as looking back I realised that the clues were all there!

      I'm looking forward to reading your review. I, too, have also already gotten stuck into Magic Study. Page 93. =D

    4. Anonymous said...

      I've had my eye on this book for a while. Great review and thanks for the info. I know what you mean when authors use terms that shouldn't be used considering the time period. I sort of feel that way now when I'm reading The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray.

    5. Great review! I really liked Poison Study. I haven't picked up the rest of the books but I would like to. I know what you mean about Snyder's word choices; I found myself getting confused about what the setting and time period really was.

    6. Jenny said...

      I'm glad to hear this is good! I've had it on my TBR forever! I should pick it up soon...

      And I always skipped chapter 2 of the babysitter's club too, lol!!

    7. Mary S said...

      Oh! This sounds really interesting. I may have to check this one out. Adding it to my TBR. Thanks for the review!

    8. Hye Terra, here is my review of POISON STUDY. I actually started a new blog just to review fantasy novels, and this was my first review:

      Hope you like :)


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