Saturday, September 26, 2009Picking up where Magic Study finished off, Yelena once again attempts to study magic only to be once more dragged away from her lessons to confront a major threat to herself and to both Sitia and Ixia.
When Moon Man, her Story Weaver, sends her one of his cryptic messages, Yelena leaves straight away for the Sandseed Clan's lands, hoping that he has found Cahil and Ferde. He greets her to reveal a desperate situation. A rogue group that has broken away from the Sanseed Clan and become the Daviian Clan has been practicing a gruesome ritual using ancient blood magic to gain power with the aid of a powerful Fire Warper. Despite having learned the truth about his heritage, Cahil has joined forces with the Vermin, as they have become known, so that he can have his war and claim the Ixian throne. Furthermore, Yelena is feared and faced with suspicion due to her being a Soulfinder and so lacks the support of the Sitian Council. With limited support Yelena must restore peace and order to Sitia, all the while being sought after by the Fire Warper.
Fire Study brings us to the end of the Snyder's Study Series. I really have loved this series. Despite not wanting it to end, I stayed up late to finish Fire Study even though my eyes ached and my body begged for sleep. I knew that I could not rest until I finally knew how it all came to a close.
Fire Study is far from being my favourite instalment in the series but I am still overall satisfied on the key issues. Although still enjoyable, I didn't feel that it was quite as up there as the previous two books. So, what dragged Fire Study down in comparison to the previous two instalments?
I found the continued use of Curare and Theobroma to become very repetitive. Considering Yelena's history as a food taster, ever since she crossed the borders into Sitia I have been waiting for her to be introduced to more new poisons. At times she still expresses paranoia left over from her food tasting days but we never see her take the time to learn about what poisonous substances are native on the Sitian side of the border. While she occasionally dwells on forgotten knowledge, I think that it is most certainly a shame that her potential with her knowledge of poisons was never follow explored.
If you have not read the book yet and want to remain spoiler free then skip to the next paragraph. For those who do not mind some spoilers I will not name the subject of this spoiler. When a certain character died I felt that it was very unconvincing. It's hard to pinpoint a single reason or perhaps it was a mix of several reasons. Perhaps Snyder had successfully instilled me with faith in this characters ability to survive; Yelena is such a strong person that considering all else that was going on she was able to hold herself together hence not producing as strong a reaction as I desired; or maybe in knowing herself that the character was not really dead, Snyder did not spend the time to convince her readers that they were. The characters absence was brief and it wasn't at all surprising when they stepped out and said "tada! I'm alive!" It is not that there was no grieving for the character at all - Yelena had her cry in private and made her plans in her head to find them again in the other worlds - but I wanted it to be an opportunity to explore a more vulnerable side of Yelena. A person can't be all firey strength all the time, right? On the other hand, especially when considering Yelena's history, it is understandable for her character to withhold her emotions. So maybe others will disagree with me on this. We'll see.
On the positive side of things, if you are a fan of action then Fire Study is full of it. Again, Snyder treats us to seeing some of our old favourites. We get to learn more about the nature of magic and Yelena's relationship with it takes an interesting course as she struggles to come to terms with her Soulfinder status. She is plagued by the concept that magic corrupts and by the realisation that she is becoming dependant on magic to survive, all the while trying to decipher her Story Weaver's cryptic advice and find her purpose as a Soulfinder. Her relationship with her new-found brother continues to evolve and we get some good insights into Valek's character. All the important ends that I can think of were all tied up to my satisfaction. We get a follow up on the lives of the Ixian characters, find out more on the nature of the Commander, why Valek has his immunity, and even a bit more talk on factories which I think helped a bit with my previous complaints about the technology level in this world.
The concluding novel was not as strong as I would have liked but still enjoyable. I am pretty atisfied with how loose ends came together and I think that in the near future I will try to find the time to re-read Fire Study and see how I feel better about it a second time around. I still highly recommend this series. I have seen some people label it as romance but it is first and foremost a fantasy series and the romance does not take the focus. Now that I am done with the Study Series, I hope that I can quickly get a hold of Snyder's Storm Glass and Sea Glass of the Glass Series which follows Opal, who we first met in Magic Study. Until then I shall have to be satisfied with reading the short stories on Snyder's website.
It's late and I am tired. Thought that it's about time that I post this but I may have to edit in the morning if I look back and this is all gibberish. Haha.