Title: Poison Study (The Study Trilogy – Book 1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Swords and Sorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Mira (22nd December 2011)
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 has extraordinary magical powers of her own, she faces a whole new problem, for using magic in Ixia is punishable by death . . .
Rating: ***** (5 stars)
I picked up Poison Study on a whim. I’d seen it around the blogsphere, but not really paid a lot of attention to it. To be honest, I wasn’t totally sure it would be my kind of book. But, I thought I’d give it a go, especially as it seems to straddle the Adult/ Young Adult market.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I really enjoyed reading it and just devoured it. I wanted to know what happened next. Yelena as a protagonist really worked for me. She was just the type of protagonist I enjoy reading about in a good sword and sorcery fantasy. She’s gutsy, but she’s also pragmatic. Yelena is very definitely a survivor.
I also thought that Snyder created a really interesting world in Ixia. It’s hard to tell how much time has passed since the Commander took over as ruler, but there are some subtle hints about what Ixia was like in the past. With the Commander in charge, the world is in some ways very similar to ours – at least in terms of the rules, as the Commander is very determined to apply the rules equally. I thought it was very interesting that Snyder had the Commander have very black and white rules, and that she hinted about why that was. I have to admit that the idea of Yelena being a food taster – and therefore poisons expert – intrigued me. It was the thing that ultimately decided me, that Poison Study was worth trying.
I really enjoyed the plot of the book. Yes, aspects of it were predictable but I was also surprised by some of the twists and turns of the plot. I liked the court intrigue aspect of the plot, which was actually a huge chunk. It was interesting reading the power plays, and about the espionage. I also liked that a large bit of the plot was also about Yelena coming to terms with her past, and moving forward and making friends, and also making difficult choices.
If you are a fan of sword and sorcery fantasy, then you should definitely give this book a try. It contains everything I enjoy in a good fantasy, plus some espionage on the side. I look forward to reading the second book in the trilogy Magic Study, as I want to know what happens to Yelena next.