This is the final book in Snyder's Study trilogy. I read Poison Study before I blogged, but I reviewed the second book, Magic Study, here on Beth Fish Reads. Note: This review of Fire Study assumes you've read the first two books. If you haven't, you might want to skip the first five paragraphs.
After surviving her ordeal as the royal food taster in Ixia and learning how to control her magic powers in Sitia, Yelena is hoping to settle in her rooms in the Citadel and learn more about how to control and use her power. Unfortunately, peace eludes her.
As political tension between the countries of Ixia and Sitia grow, Yelena is called on to act as a liaison, negotiating with the commander in the north and the magician's council in the south. Temporarily separated from her lover, Valek, Yelena travels to Ixia with her brother and two companions. Because she is known as a Soulfinder, one of the most feared and hated types of magicians, many in Sitia are happy to see her leave. But Ixia is no haven either; it was there that Yelena was held captive for most of her childhood.
Meanwhile, her family, friends, and cohorts count on her to find a way to prevent war and to conquer the evil Fire Warper, who has been called from the underworld to help an outlaw band in their desire for domination. But how can Yelena prevail when even she is afraid of her abilities?
Yelena has never felt at home anywhere and barely trusts her core group of comrades. Although she is battling her personal demons, she knows that she must also destroy the true demons who prey on her countrymen. It is at the junction of these two paths that Yelena hopes to find her destiny.
Fire Study is a stronger novel than Magic Study. The characters here are easier to grasp, and the multiple levels of political and magical intrigue add more depth and action to the plot. Of particular interest is the glass-making skills of Opal Cowan. The scenes involving her, her family's glass factory, and her glass animals were absorbing.
Unfortunately, some plot lines were a bit thin. For example, I would have liked to know more about the conflict among the master magicians in Sitia. Yelena tells her story in the first person, so we know only what she knows. This adds to the mystery of some of the characters and events, but it also means we're left in the dark about other places and the fate of other characters.
The resolution of Yelena's personal and political dilemmas occurred in a manner that I found to be somewhat hokey and drawn out. A tighter edit at that point could have helped the ending.
Of the three books, Poison Study is by far the best. The trilogy is worth picking up if you are a fantasy fan looking for something a bit different. Snyder has recently published the first book in a new spin-off series that concentrates on Opal, the glass maker, and the second in that series will come out in the fall.
I listened to the trilogy, read by Gabra Zackman. Zackman's narration is clear, and she creates different accents for the different clans of people. Her range of voices is a bit limited, but I liked hearing the correct pronunciation of the personal and place names.
Maria V. Snyder has a website where you can explore all her books and see a map of Yelena's world.
Published by Mira, 2008
Challenges: Support Your Library, 100+, 999