Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Series spotlight - Study series by Maria V. Snyder

There are so many good books that have been out in the market for ages. Series Spotlight will be featured every week and is to introduce readers to series they may not have heard of before. Today’s spotlight is the Study series by Maria V. Snyder.

This series follows Yelena Zaltana and her friends as they negotiate their way through their home court and further abroad, becoming involved in national problems. Yelena has to fight hard to help maintain peace in her rigorously militarian state, using every ounce of cunning, intelligence and perseverance she can muster. The series is not for younger readers, some scenes may be very disturbing to them.

Poison study
A quick death
Or slow poison
Yelena has a choice – be executed for murder, or become food taster to the commander of Ixia. She leaps at the chance for survival, but her relief may be short-lived. Life in the palace is full of hazards and secrets. Wily and smart, Yelena must learn to identify poisons before they kill her, recognise whom she can trust and how to spy on those she can’t. And who is the mysterious Southern sorceress who can reach into her head?
When Yelena realises she had extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death...

I love this book. Until the Hunger Games came along, it was my favourite, hands down. Ixia is a military state run by a fair, but technically dictatorial Commander. This makes for a fascinating setting; the laws are harsh and distrust between Ixia and the Southern country of Sitia is brewing. Yelena is the strongest, and at the same time most vulnerable, main character I’ve ever read. Poison study weaves a narrative between the present and Yelena’s past; how did she come to be found guilty of murder? I can’t really explain just how good this book is. It has wonderful characters, (especially Yelena’s soldier friends Ari and Janco) adventure, intrigue, a great setting, magic, a gripping blend of back-story and action and is beautifully written. For the first part in a trilogy, the ending is surprisingly satisfying. In fact, I recommend people read this as a stand-alone novel.

*Not recommended for younger readers as some of Yelena’s troubling past is described realistically and honestly.

Magic Study
You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster.
Completing her apprenticeship could prove deadly...With an execution order on her head, Yelena ha
s no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic - or face death - Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician's Keep. But nothing in Sitia is familiar. Not the family to whom she is a stranger. Not the unsettling new facets of her magic. Nor the brother who resents her return. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her rare powers, a rogue magician emerges - and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in battle of good against evil. And once again it will be her magical abilities that will either save her life...or be her downfall.

This is a good book. It has an interesting plot and good characters. If it was a stand-alone book, I’d probably have enjoyed it alot. But it’s not, it’s a sequel to Poison Study. And while I found Poison Study amazing, I only found Magic Study ok. I have to admit, it was a disappointment to me, but then I’ve heard from others who really enjoyed this one, so it may be worth a try. I think it’s because I felt that Yelena’s personal journey reached a satisfying conclusion at the end of Poison Study, but to be honest, it was probably my own high expectations that ruined this book for me. I don’t know, but I suspect that this is the classic case of a publisher not giving the author enough time to write the second in a series.

Fire Study
Yelena's new role as Soulfinder has made the Sitian Council uneasy. Worried that her new powers will corrupt her, the Council debates her fate. Yelena, though is trying to keep Sitia and Ixia from going to war. In the middle of political wrangling, Yelena receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by Ferde, the Soulstealer who murdered eleven girls and has escaped from prison with Cahil Ixia’s help. Cahil believes if he joins with the new Daviian Clan, he will have enough support to regain the Ixian throne. Testing the limit of her skills, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop Ferde and the Daviian Clan from siphoning enough power to unleash a Fire Warper on the world. That would be worst than war between the northern and southern lands. Especially since, of all the powers Yelena possesses, she couldn't set fire to a candle wick if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.

I haven’t read the last book in this series and I don’t plan to. However, just because I didn’t love the continuation of the Study series doesn’t mean you won’t. And it especially doesn’t mean that you should avoid the series altogether. Poison Study is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I recommend it.

What’s next?
A companion series, called the Glass series. This follows Opal, a character from Magic Study. (and possibly Fire Study too, I don’t know) The first in the series, Storm Glass, is out 28th April and I am de
finitely going to look into this new series.
As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it’s time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan’s glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal’s unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she never knew she possessed...powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she’s ever known.

You can visit the author's website
here, where you can read extracts from all of the books. You can buy the books here (UK) and here (US)


  1. Fantastic and fascinating post!

  2. I've heard so many good things about Maria Snyder, and I actually have Poison Study on my bookshelf now, ready to read. I'm so excited! Thanks for a great post!

  3. I want to read these, I've heard a lot of good things about them. Thanks for the great post!