08 June 2009

Review: Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

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
ISBN-13: 9780778325345
Challenges: Support Your Library, 100+, 999
YTD: 43
Rating: B-


bermudaonion 6/8/09, 2:34 PM  

I'm not a big fan of fantasy so I don't think this is for me.

Melissa 6/8/09, 2:44 PM  

Nice review! I'll be interested to see how Storm Glass is in comparison to these books. Poison Study was my favorite, too, but I really enjoyed them all. One of my favorite aspects was Yelena's ability to communicate with the horses, I'm not sure why that resonated with me the way it did, but it made the books that much more enjoyable for me.

Sandy Nawrot 6/8/09, 3:21 PM  

I wouldn't consider myself the number one fan of fantasy, although I find myself unconsciously reading more and more of it. The plotlines aren't grabbing me, but I might pick it up if I see them at the library!

heidenkind 6/8/09, 3:45 PM  

I really loved Poison Study but I haven't picked up the other two books. Following her to another country or whatever happens in the second book didn't sound terribly interesting to me.

Nely 6/8/09, 4:57 PM  

i had never heard of these. checking them out. thanks for the review.

Melody 6/8/09, 8:07 PM  

I remember I was quite intrigued by the first book when I saw it in the bookstore but I didn't pick it up. And since I've read several good reviews on this trilogy, I might want to pick them up!

Cat 6/8/09, 10:22 PM  

Definitely agree that Poison Study was the best of the three - it was the tightest of the bunch. The first one also read a bit more as a fantasy/romance cross, and the last two didn't deliver as strongly on the romance element. But I'm still intending to check out her next series when it hits the library.

Veens 6/9/09, 12:54 AM  

I have not read any in the trilogy :) so can't really comment :)

Kailana 6/9/09, 5:23 AM  

Poison Study was my favourite, too. I warn you, if you read Storm Glass it was a good book, but I didn't like it as much as this trilogy! Part of my problem, though, is there are crossover characters and it took me a bit to remember who everyone was. I read this book the most recent of the three, and even that was back when it first came out, so my memory was getting a work-out!

Breezey375 6/9/09, 11:22 PM  

I've read his Young Adult book, The Crossroads and found it incredible!

lilly 6/10/09, 7:40 AM  

I've never heard of this trilogy but it sounds intriguing. I will probably go for the audio version. I get a lot of my recommendations from you actually. It's so hard to find a good recording of a book.
Thanks for the help with my audio issues as far as the names of characters and story details go. Now I know where to look to find it all. It really was very helpful.

Dara 6/10/09, 2:52 PM  

I've only recently found myself interested in fantasy and this one definitely caught my attention. Thanks for mentioning it; now I'm off to see if my local library has it so I can put it on hold :)

Ladytink_534 6/12/09, 4:54 AM  

There are just too many books out there that I need to read! I've had this on my list since I found an ARC of Magic Study and I still haven't gotten to them!

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