Friday, April 26, 2013

Poison Study, Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study (Study, #1)
Poison Study (Study, #1)Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories. Vivid recollections waited to ambush me whenever my mind wandered. 

Poison Study is a really good fantasy, very original and intriguing. It had an interesting premise, and lots of twists. About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary chance: she can either be executed or choose to become the poison taster for the Commander of Ixia. Of course, she chooses the latter (otherwise there wouldn't be any story to tell!) She meets Valek, who begins to train her, and meanwhile starts to develop a strange magical power that helps her when she's in need. The fantasy part isn't the most major part of the story, however; it's more about Yelena's wounds healing (physical and mental). She's undergone a lot, and the palace is a tough place to stay alive. Poison Study is an adult fantasy, but it's really not that difficult, and I quite enjoyed it. The world in Poison Study could have been characterized a bit more, but it was still interesting. Basically, there's the Commander for whom Yelena is food taster, and then there are 8 (I think) military districts: each are ruled by their own general and each have their own colors. Yelena murdered one of the general's sons. She was in an orphanage there, but it was an evil orphanage (as fantasy orphanages tend to be).

One really interesting thing about Poison Study was just the job that's the center of the story. I never really considered what being a food taster would actually entail. I guess one just assumes that that means that the taster just tries a bit of food, and that's that. That's not how it is. Yelena must learn about the different types of poisons, what they do, and how to recognize them. This can help lead Valek to the assassin, and can help her discover poison without even trying the food.

I was expecting a Throne of Glass-esque fantasy, but Poison Study was quite different, though I still loved it. The writing was a bit off-putting at first, but it was really riveting, and I ended up being hooked. Despite being over 400 pages, Poison Study is quite a suspenseful read. I loved all the characters in it, especially Valek. He's an assassin, but he's also really sympathetic, and I loved seeing how his and Yelena's relationship changed: from distrust to grudging regard to something besides that. Yelena was an interesting character too. She's really conflicted and she's undergone some horrible things while she was at the orphanage. I didn't agree with some of the choices she made, but she was still a really compelling narrator.

Poison Study is the first in a trilogy, and I might pick up the next two books, Magic Study and Fire Study, if I have the chance. Poison Study was another book recommended to me by Goodreads, and once again, their recommendation was a great one. I'm really glad that I read this excellent fantasy novel. It's one that I would highly recommend. In some ways, it has a lot more depth than Throne of Glass. It's definitely a favorite, one that I will reread often. Some of the twists were predictable, but I have no other complaints. And there was chocolate.

Read Poison Study:
  • if you like fantasy
  • if you like books with assassins and poison
427 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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