Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Study Series Bundle –by Maria V. Snyder

The Study Series Bundle –by Maria V. Snyder

Fiction, Fantasy
1019 pages/ 1280 KB
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: No
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
4 Stars

This is the complete trilogy, plus a short story, of Poison Study (Book 1), Magic Study (Book 2), and Fire Study (Book 3).

Poison Study was Ms. Snyder's debut novel, and it was excellent! I borrowed the hard copy, and enjoyed it so much, I immediately bought the Bundle so I would have all the books, and all in the same place. I will be buying more of Ms. Snyder's books!

These books are what I would call High Fantasy, though there are no dragons. There are Sorcerers, Magicians, and of course, Mundanes - no dragons. I believe they would easily cross to a genre I seldom read and even more seldom enjoy, Romance.

As I read fiction for escape, this was perfect! I could escape into a world lush with characters, geography, and conflict.

Poison Study starts off with our heroine, Yelena, being brought out of her cell in the dungeon to stand before the #2 man of the country. He gives her a choice. She can face the executioner for her crime of killing the son of a noble, or she can face the possibility of a slow and agonizing death at some future date, and become the official taster of the Commander (who runs the country.)

Because there might be a way for her to escape, and this is at the beginning of the story, she accepts the latter. An honest person, she wins either the fast and loyal friendship of many, or the undying hatred.

When the Commander took over the country, he outlawed all magic, seeing it as evil, and any who had abilities either did their best to escape to Ixia, where magic was not only allowed, but nurtured, or were killed trying.

As the story unfolds, we learn Yelena was an orphan, taken and raised under the protection and education of General Brazell (whose son she killed). By the end of the story, we learn she was not an orphan, but had been kidnapped for her hoped for, and anticipated, magical abilities.

Life for Yelena was not pleasant in the orphanage, and only slightly more pleasant as a Taster, but at least it was life.

Magic Study finds Yelena reunited with her birth family, and on her way to learning to use and control her magic. Again, her choice is: Learn to use it, or burn yourself out, unless killed first.

In Magic Study, she finds herself in a strange place, untrusted, even by her brother, accused of being a spy, with few friends, and a nasty habit of charging ahead without thinking everything through.

Fire Study is the third and final book in the trilogy. Yelena finds her true magic, which frightens everyone, including her. She is a Soulfinder, one of the most powerful of all magics. By now all the characters are known, or at least most of them, and we're aware of Yelena's foibles, and her undying loyalties.

She tries to avert a war, is caught, imprisoned, escapes, and has a price on her head. The First Magician wants her dead, the Fire Starter wants her soul, and the Commander's Assassin wants her.

For the most part, this was a page burner. Once I started reading it, it was very difficult to put down. So why only 4 stars? Because Ms. Snyder knows better than to use lazy language such as, "Me and him..." and the 3d and final book had entirely too many of those. Each time I read that phrase, it threw me out of the story, and I had to work my way back in. It jarred. The more of them I read, the stronger the jar.

Although "Me and...." drives me crazy, it may not bother you. Perhaps that is the way you speak and write, and you have no idea it is the epitome of laziness in the use of American English; if so, it won't bother you, and you will probably not even notice.

The stories were great fun. I look forward to my next Maria V. Snyder novel. She has a wonderful imagination, and a great ability to create new and interesting worlds.

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