Friday, January 16, 2009

Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder

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.

Grade: 4.5/5


  1. I really loved this book! For me, it's the best one of the series. The other two are still good but there's not enough Valek to satisfy my needs.;-)

  2. Not enough Valek?? But that's terrible! :-S

  3. I loved this book! I can't wait to read the next books also, but to learn there's not enough Valek makes me sad. :P

    I think there's an e-book, called Assassin Study on the author's page, which seems to follow Valek.

  4. Thanks for the tip WhiteLady3, I'll definitely go investigate. ;-)

  5. This is an awesome book. I think the best in the series.

  6. Not enough Valek is almost a crime. I love him, very Snape like! ;-)

  7. This book is great. It's epic/high fantasy but it reads very differently, because the world is not medieval-like.

    *sigh* Yeah, Valek does not appear much on Magic Study, but I was hoping he was present again in Fire Study... :|

  8. I've had to review my I don't really enjoy fantasy stance over the last couple of years, and it is because of books like this one, and other authors like Libba Bray and Anne Bishop. It's not my favourite genre now, but I don't mind an occasional read.

    Thanks for the link Whitelady3. Off to investigate.

  9. I love fantasy, so I have of course read this book. ha ha! I love the whole trilogy, actually!

  10. LOL I'm starting to feel like I'm the last one to discover them. :-)

  11. I rarely read fantasy either but this does sound good!

  12. Teddy, I would classify these as accessible fantasy in that they are set in worlds very similar to our own, and that helps a non fantasy reader be able to enjoy them, more than have to worry about purple skys etc!

  13. I agree with Marg, Teddy. These books are really easy to read.

  14. I loved this book! The whole series, really, though Alex is right and there wasn't enough Valek to satisfy me. Still, excellent books.

    Are you planning to read the rest?

  15. Ana and Marg, you talked me into it. I added it to my TBR.

  16. Holly,
    yes I plan to read the others ;-)

    I'm glad you decided to try these!

    Do you think we will be in trouble if Teddy doesn't like them? ;-)

  17. Probably! She has however liked a few books that I have recommended, so I can fall back on my track record!

    How about you? **wink**

  18. Ooops, I don't think I have a track record yet...

    **crossing my fingers that Teddy will like them**

  19. Have you tried recommending Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn, Ana? It's a wonderful book for someone who's not really a fan of fantasy to try!

  20. Excellent suggestion Ana O.! I hadn't thought about that one yet but it is a very good story with a little bit of fantasy in a medieval like world.


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


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