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Fire Study Paperback – 1 Mar 2008
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As the Sitian Council, deeming her dangerous due to her Soulfinder abilities, decides her fate, Yolena, who can capture and release souls, embarks on a dangerous journey to her homeland to save her people from a murderous sorcerer.
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It's no secret that I absolutely loved Poison Study - and that although I loved the romance, the adventure, the plot; my main love was the main character. Yelena is for me the heroine I feel I've been searching for in fantasy. She's a person. Whilst Yelena is brave and funny and immensely likeable, she can also be arrogant, headstrong and childish. I never said I wanted perfect and I feel like Maria Snyder really gets that.
Don't worry, I'm not going to spend the whole review waxing lyrical about Yelena. However Magic Study, for me, does a great job of building on the character I loved so much in the first instalment. There was a lot going on in Poison Study; a slowly developing romance, introducing a new world, a plethora of fascinating and fun side characters, and over-arching bad guy plot...
I mean come on. That's a lot. And it was done really well. In Magic Study I felt like a lot more of the focus was put on Yelena. Firstly, she finds her parents (who I love). But she also finds her brother (who is a bit of a dick, but it works) as well as her home. This rediscovering of her roots helps her transition into the idea that the world she always believed to be home actually left her with a big feeling of disconnect. And this theme is played upon even more when she goes to learn how to control her magic; a vital part of her being which she's spent two decades being completely ignorant about. I liked the development, the way it helped me as a reader understand Yelena better, even as she herself went on a journey of discovery.
Yes, I will admit, there's a lack of Valek. He spends an almost painful amount of time out of frame. As hard as that was to accept, ultimately I think that's a good thing. Their scenes together, whilst brief, felt meaningful to me and the lack of overall interaction between the two characters is kind of part of the quirk of them as a couple. They're in love but they're not attached at the hip. Both are independent entities with their own responsibilities and goals. They can be everything to each other without being everything to each other. I like that. A lot.
Once again the side characters were tremendously well realised. I absolutely loved Irys in this book, and having talking horses has made my reading year (did anyone read The Star-Touched QueenI was getting Kamala withdrawals!). I also liked the depth of the not so nice characters, such as Cahil. He went on a journey and I hope to God he is the big bad of the third book in the series because that will be awesome.
If I were to criticise at all, my only negative would be that I wanted more depth in the big bad. Although he was nefarious to the extreme, I didn't feel his presence was ominous enough to be the main rival. He did terrible things and I thought the victims were written with heart-breaking sensitivity and tenderness. But as this "mystery" was reaching throughout the entire book, it occasionally felt a little flat for me.
Despite this small niggle, I would a thousand times recommend Magic Study, and it's predecessor. It's the kind of books I write reviews for - where the words pour out and you have to physically stop yourself enthusing all the way to the end of the word count. Will be seeking out the next ASAP!
At points I felt as though the plot was all over the place and the seemed to change very randomly. Leading you all over the place, and in places the transition between different scenes or places feels jumpy.
In the first book I loved the story line of Valek and Yelena falling for eachother and sadly in this book Valek doesn't appear until very late - and in Fire Study he seems to just be a foot soldier for Yelena, not a primary important character he was in the first book. His character seems to have been diluted through the course of the series and he's no longer the independent leader that we met in the first book.
However, I do like the introduction of Opal's story at the end of the book - I'm looking forward to seeing how Snyder develops her character inStorm Glass and the way that her training will differ to Yelena.
Overall, although there are parts of this book that I really enjoyed, unfortunately I found it very hard to read and it lacked the coherence in the story line that kept me absolutely hooked on Poison Study.
Better than the first as it quickly jumps into a fast pace plot.
Romance carries over from first but it takes a back seat as Yelena is separated from her lover and is a concentrating on others things like getting to know the family she was torn from, training and solving violent crimes against other women. So if sexual violence is a trigger, best avoid this book. One thing that irk me, is that when Yelena’s lover does return, it feels like within 5 pages of him popping up, the two are having sex, no matter what has just happened and it feels awkward and bad timing.
Still, very entertaining novel, and better than the first in the series.