Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

In Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, readers are introduced to the alternate reality of Ixia, a country once ruled by a corrupt monarchy, and now under strict military rule. The former provinces have been turned into military districts, ruled by Generals, who are all in allegiance to Commander Ambrose, the architect of the coup. Societal position is no longer determined by money and connections, but by skill and loyalty, and all subjects are held to a strict Code of Behavior. The code dictates that if you take a life, you lose your life, whether it was on purpose, by accident, or in self-defense. At the beginning of the book, 19 year old orphan Yelena awaits her execution for the murder of the son of one of Ixia's Generals. At the eleventh hour, she is given a second chance by Valek, Ixia's head of intelligence, a skilled spy and assasin. The catch? If she wants to live, she must become Commander Ambrose's food taster, checking his food and drink at each meal for poison. In addition, to prevent any chance of escape, Yelena will be given a small amount of poison each day. If she does not go to Valek each day for an antidote, she will be dead within days. If she doesn't get poisoned by one of the Commander's meals first. Or, if the vengeful General Brazell doesn't get to her. Is it worth it to Yelena to prolong her life for a time? The practical Yelena thinks so. She soon finds herself neck-deep in intrigue, corruption, danger and unexpected love.

I really, really enjoyed this one. Yelena was a great heroine: strong-willed, intelligent and practical. She does what it takes to survive, and her growth and development from scared convict to brave woman was very interesting. It was also a fast paced and exciting book. I liked the world of Ixia, which was both very strict and strangely fair. I enjoyed the romance as well. I did feel that it was a bit out of the blue, but since I would characterize this book as fantasy rather than a romance, this didn't particularly bother me. The romance is only part of Yelena's journey. She and her romantic interest (I'll leave that a surprise, though I'm sure you can guess), were quite well-suited and have a lot of potential. Her hero is somewhat less than heroic, and he did remain a bit of a cipher, but that didn't bother me, either. He was characterized in a particular way throughout the book. I'm glad it's a trilogy, because I'm looking forward to reading more about him and their relationship. Good secondary characters as well. Loved the twist concerning Commander Ambrose.

All in all, I was quite pleased to get an email newsletter from Harlequin announcing that the sequel Magic Study is out today. Hope to find it at the library soon.

Some other reviews: here,here and here. I'm know there are others, this one's been making the rounds. Gotta go, season premiere of Veronica Mars in 5 minutes.

In short, strong fantasy, strong heroine. B+.


Marg said...

I want this, I want this!! One day...when I get to it! LOL!!

Mailyn said...

I love Holly!!!! She got me this and I am taking it to Vegas!!!!!!!

Holly said...

I thought this one was great, and I Just got Magic Study yesterday. I can't wait to read it.

And where have you been? I've missed you. :)

Nicole said...

Holly was telling me all about this over the phone last week. I'm borrowing it from her. lol. My pile is getting huge!

Devon said...

This is definitely a good one, when you get around to it.

Hi Holly. I've been kinda busy taking care of some stuff and getting adjusted to my new schedule. I usually only get to do a brief run of the blogs at breakfast and maybe in the afternoon. But I'm definitely out there, reading and lurking. I'm hoping that I'll get back it soon.

Holly said...

Well, I'm glad you took a second to post. I totally understand about being busy, though.

I finished Magic Study last night. It was just as good as PS, I think. I'll maybe review it this weekend....or sometime before Christmas '07. LOL


Anonymous said...

Just picked this up this morning at Border's and **SQUEEEEEEEEE** it was a signed copy!