Choose: A quick death . . . Or slow poison . . .
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace -- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust -- and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear . . .
Another fantasy read thanks to A, and I’m still eating my words about not enjoying the genre.
Snyder starts her story in an unusual manner, to me at least, Yelena, our heroine, is in prison awaiting her execution for having murdered the son of her former protector. One day she is brought to the prison guard’s office and told that instead of being executed she can become the next food taster of the Commander, their supreme ruler of Ixia. Yelena does the obvious choice and starts being instructed in poisons and how to avoid them by Valek, the ruler’s second in command. To ensure that Yelena doesn’t run away he makes her drink poison and tells her that the only way to survive is to come to him every day to drink the antidote.
It’s obvious from the beginning that there is a mystery in Yelena’s past starting with the why she committed murder and continuing with some powers she is developing and can’t really control. She is very fragile in the beginning but as the action proceeds she becomes stronger and more determined to survive. Valek is also an intriguing character, the book is written in the first person from Yelena’s point of view so we don’t get to know him all that well but there’s an evolution in his manner and behaviour towards Yelena as the story develops and he becomes less cold and mysterious.
Yelena’s chief concern is to stay alive and Valek’s is to keep the commander alive. That Yelena is found to have magical powers is a problem because magic is forbidden in Ixia and that she becomes involved in a murderous plot only makes it more interesting. I was completely sucked into her world and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next and how Yelena and Valek were going to deal with the feelings that they spend half the story ignoring and that eventually they recognise as love.
There’s a lot more that we need to know about their world and Yelena and Valek’s past but instead of disappointing or frustrating me it made me want to grab the next book in the trilogy real fast. I guess I’m getting used to these trilogies that are almost a book divided in 3.
I’m looking forward to meet Yelena and Valek again.