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on 15 December 2009
"The author feels the need to rehash everything from the previous two books, I grew to loath the vast numbers of paragraphs that just summarised what had happened earlier, without any of the charm. Even when Yelena's first person was not reminiscing the story drags in several sections."

i loved poison study, quite liked magic study, but disliked fire study. i totally agree with the above review and by page 80 i was geting very bored by this retelling of the first 2 books. Also for the first time i found that i really did not like yelena anymore, she had became controlling and condiscending, now considering that she had just started her magic training and didnt know anything about the jungle she was in, it was very anoying that, on nearly every page, she was telling everone what to do and was the only one saving the day, as if moon man (powerfull magicin) and leif (grew up in the jungle) were her know nothing servants. one part especially got to me when she TOLD leif "i have to interogate the prisoner" and instructed him to go see to the horses, erm isnt her brother a trained magician whos speciality is criminal/prisoner interogation? I found that (appart from yelena) the characters in fire study were so weak that they just seemed to follow on yelenas heels like puppys, even valeks character changed calling her my love and pandering to her like a child, where is the strong mysterious assasin from book 1??

i also disliked the fact the we were still dragging out being in the jungle i think it would have worked much better if it had went full circle again to involve much more of the court politics and strong characters of poison study instead of another book about a magician abducting people in the jungle
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on 12 March 2009
I stumbled across the Study series in the search of a new author by using the Amazon toolbar of 'people who bought X also bought this...'. Expecting something of ok-to good quality I was amazed by how quickly I read through the series- I just couldn't put it down! Admittedly I did feel at times that some of the ideas seemed a bit familiar (almost a bit like an amalgamation of the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb and the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce,) I still found the characters fresh enough to care about what happened to them and the plot sped along nicely. There have been some comments on the style of writing but I didn't find this any impairment to the enjoyment of the story nor the understanding of the plot. There were two things that didn't satisfy me at first (PLOT REFERENCES): 1) I expected more fire 'study' with Yelena learning some control over it, and 2) there were some loose ends e.g. the issue of Cahil. However, on reflection this doesn't ruin the story by any means. The first could actually considered to be refreshing- instead of a main character becoming all powerful, she still has weaknesses and can't do everything herself. The second,I hope, will be satisfied by the upcoming release of the Opal book(s) with more world-building and the development of political story arcs.

I would recommend this series especially if you liked:
Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series
Garth Nix's Abhorsen series
Alison Croggon's Books of Pellinor
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on 19 March 2009
Here we are in the third book after poison study and magic study. Yelena is still facing difficulties with enormous courage and determination. There are some recurring themes that make her journey interesting. The one I like best is personal development. You can only master the world if you master yourself. Especially on esoteric paths, you constantly face your own inner problems and have to overcome them in order to function properly. The lack of inner work leads to taking the path of evil, giving way to your hatred, resentment and turning your talents to evil deeds. Yelena faces these trials and overcomes. Another theme is friendship and what that means. Forgiving friends who might or might not deserve it and facing the consequences or benefits... who knows at the time of that forgiveness. Still, the capacity for friendship is one of the carrying themes here.
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on 29 March 2008
In a lot of ways, I just cannot believe this is the conclusion to the fantasy series that got me re-hooked on my breakthrough reading craze. I do credit Snyder with reeling me back into fantasy mainstream, my first reading love and passion. Reading Yelena Zaltana's journey's from Poison Study and now through her culmination in Fire Study has been, quite simply, an amazing journey. What a great, awe-inspiring series to reintroduce myself to one of my biggest passions in reading. For that, Ms. Snyder, thank you.

The first few chapters were a bit slow to start and as a result a little difficult to get into. They do pick up seamlessly though where Magic Study leaves off, with Yelena seeking out the Sandseed clan once again, whom she's related too. But fortune is ever unsmiling on this newly discovered Soulfinder (which she still has no inkling of what one can do), and her studies are exchanged for intrigue and danger-an all too reoccurring pattern. Yelena's still not completely in her skin yet, but she's as tenacious as ever and takes on challenges with the air of a natural leader that everyone around her begins to look up to. Thank goodness for her small circle of supporters too because Sitian and Ixian relation are as unbalanced as ever and a new threat is on the horizon. Outcast Sandseeds, known as Vermin, have joined forces with the villain form the last book, Ferde the Soulstealer, and Cahil, resident sorta-sorta-not-lost-heir-to-Ixia, who just won't give up the bone to rule that he's latched onto. Something stinks in the Sitian council too when Yelena and her brother are denounced as traitors, their arrests called for by Roze Featherstone, first Master Magician. Chaos ensues and suddenly Sitia is on the brink of declaring war with Ixia and as always, it's up to Yelena and her merry band of rag-tag magicians and her assassin lover to resolve the multiple dilemmas. Add in a diabolical and ancient Sandseed magic and suddenly a Fire Warper is out to make Yelena his. From the plains and Magician's Keep of Sitia, to the northern military ruled territories if Ixia, Yelena's got her hands more full than ever.

There's a lot going on in this book! There's no other way to put it and at times it was a bit confusing. Snyder's world building, while seemingly flawless, does get a bit hazy as Yelena struggles to discover her identity as a magician and Soulfinder. There's non-stop action from the first page till the last, as seems to be the norm now after two prior books, and it's not really till the end that we see once again that it's all actually vital to the climax of the series as a whole. Were there holes in the plot? Honestly - there well may have been, but this reader eventually was able to bypass the more muddled beginning and by about the fifth chapter or so, I was as hooked as I've ever been in Yelena's upside-down life. If there were holes, I blithely overlooked them in favor of a thoroughly intriguing story. At the end of Magic Study, we finally discover the driving force behind the tipsy-topsy snake path that's been Yelena's life from the moment she was kidnapped and stolen into Ixia as a young child. Snyder does an admirable job of detailing the previous two books enough so that we get a gist of Yelena's past as a child and as the former food taster to the King of Ixia, but without bogging down this latest installment with unnecessary info. It's woven seamlessly into the story...although there were a few points that were never resolved that I'd looked forward to reading.

Yelena...what can be said that hasn't been already in past reviews? She definitely experiences almost a full circle of development. Again, some of those unresolved issues might have hindered this. Her first person voice, no matter how tricksy things become, is so matter-of-fact and rational. And maybe that blunts some of the more horrific aspects that she deals with, but it also helped portray her as the leader some eventually look up to her as. I could go on and on but, well, Yelena rocks and the books are the evidence. If you enjoy first-person POVs then this here's the gal that can lead you on one interesting adventure after another through three satisfying books.

The book has a very satisfying ending, with Yelena discovering, FINALLY, who she really is and what her purpose is, but it did not really feel like the end of a series. So, good enough ending for this particular book, but I am left in major wanting of more from Yelena and her cohorts. Much more! Maybe, for a series ending, it was a tad too succinct and abrupt, not to mention too convenient. Yelena has finally come into her own, but there are too many of those unresolved issued with others like Cahil, the Sandseeds, and there's still a lot of turmoil to undo in the Fire Warper's wake. I was not ready to move on after this installment, though I thoroughly enjoyed it.

**Note** After posting a slightly different version on my blog, I received an update from a fellow blogger that Snyder has a spin off planned about Opal, the glassmaker that first made an appearance in Magic Study. Word is sometime next year.
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on 22 October 2012
Fire Study starts off with Yelena having learnt that she is a Soulfinder, which causes distrust, and fear from the council, Cahil has released Ferde and a new enemy called the Fire Warper is after Yelena.

Although this is still a brilliant story and series, it did not flow as easily as the other two books, but saying that it is still a very good plot and you want to find out what happens next to Yelena and her friends.

Yelena regresses back into her old self a bit in this book, running and hiding instead of taking charge, however it did seem that everyone was putting too much pressure on her as she is still a young woman. However this did make her stronger by the end of the book.

Loads of my favourite characters from both Ixia and Sitia are back in this book, but as we see them through Yelena's eyes, and because she is finding it hard to trust people in some parts of the book, sometimes the characters act differently that you think they should, but most of the time they are the character you know and love.

Yelena and Valek's relationship in this novel faces more trouble as they are both struggling to understand each other, especially when it comes to Yelena's powers, but in the end they realise that while that don't need each other that want each other. The villain was a bit obvious and you cannot understand how one person in particular did not see it all along, but overall a good ending to the series.

I would recommend this book to those like fantasy especially Graceling or the Black Magician trilogy.
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on 27 February 2011
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder--able to capture and release souls--spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before....
Honour sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself--and save the land she holds dear.

Hmm. After reading the second one I was like okay, we're over with the filler, lets get to the good stuff! Unfortunately I was disappointed. This book is actually worse than Magic Study.
They do like to recycle. Yelena runs around a lot again, gets kidnapped a lot again. Various torture scenes ensue, she runs around some more before I dunno to be honest, probably having sex with Valek. Who says 'My Love' a lot.
So Roze Featherstone (a character that truly annoys me and reminds me of Dolores Umbridge crossed with Professor McGonagall - now there's a thought!) is evil, yada yada, she wants Yelena dead, etc.
The ending, in it's own way was pretty good, you just had to be willing to battle your way through and read it.
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on 13 April 2011
I thought the first 150 pages or so were kind of slow, and not as interesting as the previous books, as it is all just one mission. But I did think the sub-plots that were included were really good and interesting. Then once I got past that, it became a lot more interesting because more things started happening, and Yelena got into all kinds of trouble as usual. It was so good, I couldn't put the book down.

The book starts off about 1 month after Valek left Yelena to go back to Ixia. The Council has found out Yelena is a Soulfinder and they get worried and scared, Roze the First Magician especially as we find out the last Soulfinder was corrupted by magic and turned bad 150 years ago. Yelena gets sent a message about what would happen if she got corrupted by her own power. Anything beyond that will just be spoilers so I'll leave it there.

If you loved/liked the first two books you should definately read this one. The last 300 pages are just amazing and action-packed the first part is worth reading through even though it may be a bit slow. Just like Magic Study you get introduced to a whole bunch of new characters, and old characters are still present but some appear less than in the previous book.
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on 19 November 2010
This is the third and final book in the Study series. I have to say I was a little bit disappointed as I thought this book would follow a similar format to the others. The first one was Poison Study and it was about Yelena's job as a food taster for the Commander of Ixia. In the second book Yelena goes to learn about her magical ability with the magicians in Sitia. I thought the third book would be about Yelena studying fire, but it really was a continuation of Magic Study and Yelena's journey to become a Soulfinder.
In this book you will find plenty of action and suspense, especially in the last 200 pages. The problem I thought this book had was that it was action driven, not character driven so the emotional connection established in the other books was lacking. All your favourite secondary characters from the other books had very little interaction in this book and at times did not seem true to character.
As much as Fire Study was still an enjoyable read, poison Study remains my favourite book in the series.
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on 28 June 2011
Never having read anything by this author before, I was a little nervous about taking the plunge with this series, but having just finished reading the trilogy, I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised at how good the series turned out to be. I absolutely loved the characters, especially the character of Valek, who has the dark and moody, not quite villain thing going on, and the situations into which they are thrown makes for thrilling reading. I liked this series so much that I have now bought the Opal Cowan series, which takes place in the same world as the Yelana Zoltana series. I was also looking to see if this author had any other books out, but unfortunately the only other series at present is a si-fi series, which I won't be reading, because I don't like the genre. Please, Ms Snyder, if you write some more like this series, I may well become an avid fan.
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on 3 March 2008
This is the third story in Maria Snyder's series about the poison-tester turned magician Yelena Zaltana. The first book, "Poison Study", was simply brilliant and it's a book I return to again and again. The second book, "Magic Study", was also excellent and built well on the foundations of the first story as Yelena learns about her magical talent and that she is a special type of magician, a Soulfinder.

In Fire Study Yelena is sent to train under the Magician Roze Featherstone; the mutual hatred between them isn't very encouraging but right at the start of their relationship Yelena charges off to find Cahil and Ferde who have escaped the Castle. Ferde was the evil man from the previous book and Yelena is desperate to stop him killing any more girls. She takes her brother Leif with her, her Sandseed mentor Moon Man, and various other people join up on the way. Unfortunately Yelena's search for Cahil and Ferde opens up more problems and their task widens, possibly even to encompass preventing war between Sitia and Ixia. When the Sandseed clan are the victims of genocide and Yelena discovers she is being hunted by a mysterious and powerful Fire Warper she has to try to overcome her fear of fire and her lack of understanding about magic to solve the myriad problems that are thrown her way whilst protecting those she loves.

This third story was, unfortunately, a little bit of a disappointment to me. The main reason for this was that it felt a bit directionless at times. I couldn't tell where the story was going, events seemed to heap upon other events without all that much analysis, and Yelena herself turned into someone a little less appealing. Her main guide in her new life, Moon Man, seems to only speak cryptically which irritates Yelena - and also irritated me. It was hard to get into the minds and characters of people such as Moon Man, Tauno, even Leif in this book; characterisation played less of a part than it did in the first two books where it was excellent.

Despite these slightly negative points, overall I did enjoy the book. The cast of characters from the other books appeared in this one, including Valek the assassin and Yelena's lover, and it was good to meet up with them again. I did think it might be rather hard to understand this book if you hadn't read the previous two and it very much felt like part of a series but, as the series is so good, this is no bad thing.

One strange thing about this book was that the font used didn't make the character f a ligature when used with certain other letters (i, l, etc) so the words looked a bit odd when printed. I haven't come across this before and it was rather distracting. However the attractive cover art, quality of the printing and, far more importantly, the excellence of the story in these three books makes this a very worthwhile read. I will be buying anything that Maria Snyder writes in the future as she's clearly an author to watch.
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