Tuesday, September 1, 2009No 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.