"When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before.... Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear."
These books get progressively less good. I loved Poison Study and Magic Study to a lesser extent, but Fire Study was just okay. It didn't end up being terrible, but it wasn't good either.
There were many things that bothered me about the second and third books of the series. I really don't like the character of Moon Man; he feels cliched and he's just annoying with his deliberate vagueness. And his name; Moon Man. Really? I feel like the author could have done better than that. The magic in general in Sitia just isn't convincing at all; it doesn't make sense, and it doesn't follow its own rules most of the time. I've never really connected with that aspect, another reason why Poison Study is my favorite of the three. There's magic, but the author doesn't really attempt to explain it. When she does, it all falls apart.
I've got to say, the beginning of Fire Study was just terrible. The writing was different from the first two books, and the action just started without much explanation. The plot was so weak and shaky; the sub-plot with Ferde just annoys me. Yelena is training, and then all of the sudden she has to go visit Moon Man and go on a dangerous mission. None of it made sense, and the book got off to a discombobulated start. There were so many threads to the story, and the author didn't weave them together well at all. Roze Featherstone, First Magician, also seemed way too evil to be realistic.
Also, both Poison Study and Magic Study were really suspenseful. Not so with Fire Study. After about 80 pages, I really didn't care about any of it. With the first two books, I couldn't put them down. With Fire Study, that's all I wanted to do. But I stuck with it.
The writing was just awful for much of the book; the language also sounded way too modern, with modern expressions and modern swear words. This is a fantasy world, not 21st century America. The dialogue sounded like the real world.
The names of some of the newer characters were also just ridiculous. What happened to normal-sounding names? Instead we have names like Tauno. That was just annoying. Nothing about Fire Study's first 200 pages was convincing or compelling. I noticed that there was praise for Poison Study on the paperback edition, but none of Fire Study. That's probably because most reviewers didn't like it. I only think the book was published because Poison Study was a success, and Mira wanted the series to be finished. No publisher would ever have accepted the terrible prose that is Fire Study.
Then Valek showed up. And things got much, much better. The writing improved a lot too; apparently the author only writes well when the best character is around. Suddenly, the plot seemed more cohesive and the characters and the world were more convincing. It almost made up for the terribleness that was the first half. Almost.
Like The Candymakers, this is one of those books that I'm not sure what rating to give to. My thinking at about 190 pages was 1 star, but overall, it really wasn't that bad. It could have been much, much better, but the book could have continued in the same vein the whole way through and been terrible. It ultimately wasn't terrible, and if you want to see the series wrapped up, then you could consider reading Fire Study. It gets 2 stars. I'll definitely be considering reading some of the author's other fantasy series.