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  1. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    No longer able to stay in Ixia unless she wishes to be executed as a magician, Yelena leaves behind her life as Commander Ambrose's food taster and travels south to Sitia with Irys and the other orphans rescued from General Brazell's "orphanage", all of them now seeking to be reunited with their long lost families.

    Getting away from Ixia and having to get stuck into studying how to harness her powers doesn't mean that Yelena's life will now be anything but eventful. While Yelena's parents greet her with open arms, not everyone in the Zaltana clan is happy to see Yelena returned to them. Even her own brother seems to want her dead. Her Ixian upbringing makes others regard her with suspicion and accuse her of being a spy. Although eager to begin her lessons in magic, she struggles to adjust to the Sitian way of life. As if that is not enough, she encounters the lost prince to the Ixian throne and becomes involved in the search for a magician trying to gain more power through the brutal murder of young girls.

    In this second instalment in the Study Series, we are given the opportunity to learn more about the nature of magic in Synder's world. I really like the subtle nature of how she has portrayed magic. It is not all flashy or over the top and I think that this subtlety very well suits the overall tone of the series. I also like that Snyder has not made Yelena all powerful. She has abilities that make others wary of her but she is unusually limited in other areas which other magicians might think to be basic. I think that Snyder has struck a great balance in term of Yelena's abilities.

    Yelena seems to has grown from the events that took place in Poison Study and I cannot help but to like her even more. She is strong and independent and tends to take the approach of "rush into a situation and hope for the best", a method that is frowned upon in Sitian and although no longer a prisoner to anyone, she is not truely free in Sitia. Her struggle to find her place in Sitia and her isolation felt real. While Valek features little as he is not welcome in Sitia, Yelena misses him. He is rarely far from her thoughts and despite the distance between them, Snyder manages to believably maintain their relationship.

    Despite her struggles, Yelena does makes some new friends but do not worry, Snyder still finds a way to bring back characters that we came to love in Poison Study. Among them being Irys, who is mentoring Yelena in magic at the Magician's Keep. After seeing Irys in the previous book as a Sitian magician having crossed the border to deal with the threat of Yelena's building powers and attempting to kill her, it was interesting to see a different side of her as a mentor and teacher to Yelena. Ari and Janco fans will also be happy to see the duo make a return. (I know that I was!) Then there the new characters such as the spiteful Master Magician, Roze, and also Cahil, who claims to be the rightful heir to the throne of Ixia. The interaction between Cahil and Yelena is a great addition to the book and I even found myself groaning out load when at one point it seemed that things between them could potentially turn romantic. There is just no way Cahil could outdo Valek.

    In my review of Poison Study my only complaint was about Snyder occasionally using words that seemed too modern for the world she had created. I am very pleased to say that I did not pick up on this issue in Magic Study. This time around my only complaint is that it was over all too soon! Expect a Fire Study review in the very near future.

    Terra
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  2. 5 comments:

    1. I'm reading The Ask and the Answer, then World War Z, then either The Name of the Wind or Magic Study--they both look equally fantastic that I can't decide!! I loved Poison Study and I'm glad you enjoyed Magic Study. Snyder is my new favourite author.

    2. Just finished MAGIC STUDY.

      It was fantastic! Why O why did I abandon this genre for so long?!

      My own review will be written tomorrow, but on top of all the new powers Yelena discovers she possesses, I believe her major power is to get knocked unconscious and kidnapped? Don't you agree :p

      I too was thrilled with the return of the 'power twins' Janco and Ari tho pity Maren didn't come with them. Snyder has a gift to make each character unique and multi-layered and even though each character has their flaws I found I enjoy them for their flaws as I do their talents.

      I enjoy how in this series one man's villain is another man's Hero, and that is dutifully written with Valek and Commander Ambrose (and his secret), esp Ambrose and his treatment of the girl in the first book that kept correcting the math's teacher, as well as his final resolution to cancel Yelena's execution order and make her Ixian Liason.

      Your view of things just comes down to what side of the border you were raised. Both Valek and Ambrose had a justifiable reason for ousting the tyrannical monarchy, but to others they were nothing but usurpers, not liberators.

      This is evident when while in Ixia everyone has a job and it fed and clothed, Sitia still has beggars. Even Chail's desire just to sit on a throne dressed in fine silk and re-horde the treasury with gold shows you a comparison to reflect upon.

      And Yelena certainly has acquired quite the Rogue's Gallery with Cahil, Roze and Ferde etc hasn't she?

      Of course I'll have to wait now for Fire Study to get released around November (grrr, don't want to order it overseas but may have to) so I apologise in advance that I won't read your review of it till then, just don't try to rub it in too much that you read it before me, ok :p

      *edit* on a related note, I found a website in the UK that ships books internationally WITHIN a week and has NO shipping:

      http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/

      They have Fire Study for 6 pounds (dammit I am ordering it, and I have friends in Sydney that ordered from them and the site is reliable and cheap):

      Fire Study

      And look at the lovely covers THEY have :(

      Poison Study

      Poison Study (Yelena in Food Tester Uniform!)

      Magic Study (Lovely Cover!)

    3. Terra said...

      A friend of mine directed me to the Book Depository just last week. I am absolutely thrilled that they do international shipping free of charge. I ordered a new Lord of the Rings box set and the Silmarillion from them the other day. I cannot wait for them to arrive. I may order some more Tolkien from the as of yet. Somewhat shamefully, I must confess it is the first online purchase that I have ever made.

      Those Study covers look great, too!

    4. First online purchase? Wow!

      Well I ordered FIRE STUDY last night from the Book Depository, so we'll see how long it takes to get here.

      I might order the other two just so I have a matching set as well, but I want to hold this version in my hands to see if I like it up front first.

      In regards to the Silmarillion, I'm interested in reading your review of that when you are done, because I have yet to read it.

      To be honest, I didn't read the LOTR till after I saw the movies, (was still in my horror phase after all, but I read mostly Dragonlance in Highschool before I jumped ship to horror) and I find Tolkien's style a bit archaic.

      It was still enjoyable but it annoyed me how he'd spend an entire page describing things sometimes. (Stephen King tends to do that too).

      Tolkien is still the Grandmaster of Fantasy though, who gave birth to many masters of course.

      So have you started Fire Study yet *jealous*
      Also have you read the Assassin Series by Robin Hobb? That is in my TRP...

    5. Hello how's it going?

      I finished Fire Study the other day and just wrote a short review for it tonight. It was awesome, but it's sad there might be no more Yelena :(
      I am keen to read your review, have you read it yet, I want to know what you thought of it.

      Gabriel.

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