Monday, May 27, 2013

Magic Study, Maria V. Snyder

Magic Study (Study #2)"We're here," Irys said. I looked around. The surrounding jungle bulged with life. Overgrown green bushes blocked our path, vines hung from the tree canopy, and the constant chatter and trill of jungle birds beat at my ears. 

"You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster... With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better... Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training—especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies..." I read Poison Study fairly recently, and loved it, so I was eager to read the sequel, Magic Study, in which Yelena has new adventures, new experiences, and makes some new friends and some new enemies. 

I didn't love Magic Study as much as I loved Poison Study, but it was still really entertaining. I think it was easier to get into at first than Poison Study, and I read the book very quickly. There were some things that were jarring to me though. The way the Sitian characters talked felt weird, like they were people in the modern day. They used phrases like "yep" and "buddy-guarding". Buddy-guarding? Really? 

I did think that the two vastly different societies, Ixia and Sitia, were compared really well. They both have problems, but neither one is a great place. Ixia is kind of a Communist state - no one has much choice about their life, but at least they're provided for. Whereas there are beggars in Sitia. I really like it when a fantasy novel like this has some political commentary, but it doesn't feel forced or interfere with the action. 

And there's plenty of action. Much of Magic Study is Yelena getting captured by various enemies, escaping, getting beaten up, captured, escaping, etc. We also meet a lot of new characters in Sitia, but things get much, much better when Valek returns. He's definitely my favorite character; he's so fascinating. 

Really, I thought Magic Study would be much less good than Poison Study, but it was still a fantastic read. I couldn't put it down, and would have read it in one setting if I could. I really like how there is a romance, but Yelena can still be friends with other guys, like Ari and Janco, two soldiers she met in Ixia. 

Some of the plot-line with "Ferde", a mysterious person who's been kidnapping young girls, seemed a bit disconnected from Yelena's life, and it felt a bit like a forced problem just so her old memories of Reyad could be dredged up. It was still absorbing, but a bit unnecessary. Yelena definitely has enough on her plate without that. 

I find it somewhat interesting that Poison Study (at least the edition I read) was marketed as an adult book, whereas the edition of Magic Study that I read was marketed as a YA book. Make up your mind! The books aren't that difficult, so I definitely think they should be YA. 

I'm really looking forward to reading the final book in the series, Fire Study; I really love the world that Snyder has created and the characters as well. She's great at world-building and suspense. I may also try some of her other books, though I don't know whether they can be as amazing as this series. 

Read Magic Study:
  • if you like fantasy
  • if you liked Poison Study (read it first)
  • if you like Maria V. Snyder
440 pages. 
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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