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on 6 September 2015
ealed) and her novel occupation of food taster. The story is written from Yelena’s perspective and it is clear how resourceful Yelena is. She does not like to ask for help. She is not a whiny damsel in distress character. Instead she accepts the punishment for her actions and to plan ahead so that she has options.

Valek in the beginning appears to be cold, cruel and selfish, with no apparent redeeming feature. However as the books progress he becomes a more likeable character. No he is not the perfect boyfriend for the heroine, rather we see his personality and that, while at times he remains a mysterious character he exudes a quiet confidence.

All the characters have been developed so that they have their own background and quirks. For example Janco rhymes when he fights. They is also Ari, Janco’s fighting partner, and co-mentor to Yelena. Janco and Ari’s scenes were always light-hearted and full of banter. It always made me smile when I saw their names on the page.

While there is a romance, it is not overwhelming nor does it feel like the plot is overridden by the love story, instead it stays nicely burning in the background.

The one thing that really bothered me about this book was the extreme violence and use of rape against Yelena, which was written in a causal style, which made me feel very uncomfortable.

Yelena’s story is a journey from being slated to be executed, to being given a second chance (even if there is still a chance of dying) and how to make the most of opportunities given to you and what you can achieve.

Overall this is a light-hearted fantasy (especially if you ignore the violence) that is easy to read and will appeal to a wide number of people.
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on 30 December 2014
The land of Ixia was once a monarchy but was overthrown by commander Ambrose and is now a kind of communist state consisting of 8 military districts each run by a general. The laws of Ixia are rigid and are applied without consideration to extenuating circumstances. Yelena has been in the dungeons for months awaiting execution for killing someone, when the commanders food taster dies and there's a law that the next convict due for execution be offered the post. She is then trained in the job by the commader's chief adviser and assassin , Valek. Yelena seems to attract trouble and so begins her adventure which affects all those around her. I loved this book and the next one too, and I'm just about to start book 3. If you like fantasy books then you'll like this, there is only a minor romance element to the story, but there's lots of plotting, secrets and magic.
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on 12 April 2017
Not what I expected to be honest. Amazing book. Totally different. Loads of mysteries. Plots. Romance but not taken over as some novels do. The description doesn't do it justice. Could not put it down xx
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on 4 January 2012
The first of three, compelling reading. The background is full, deep, easy to visualize from the story. The heroine is sympathetic, courageous, self-reliant (and a nice girl too), and the story is great, not only in the first book, but throughout the series (book 2 and book 3). I couldn't put this down. Highly recommended - and I read a lot of fantasy, such as Anne McCaffrey, E E Doc Smith - this is one of the best I've ever read.
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on 24 January 2016
Had me hooked all the way through. Probably the fastest I've read a book. Awesome story and I'm on to the next as soon as I've posted this review.
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on 2 August 2017
This book is phenomenally compelling and will leave you not wanting to leave the world it creates. Thank heavens there is a whole series! I read it in a day as I was unable to put it down and have already downloaded the rest of the series.
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VINE VOICEon 5 March 2010
I thought this was going to be a stupid book with silly characters and a obvious story, a really cheap fantasy novel. I was really pleased to discover its actually really entertaining!! Honestly, this book has it all, humour, good characters and one hell of a storyline. Admittedly the love story is corny and there's abit too many girl power statements at times but really its stupidly readable!
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on 9 October 2017
Enjoyed this book very much and now can't wait to read the next one just hoping it is as good as the first.
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on 18 September 2017
This was the book that got me started had to carry on reading them all
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on 23 March 2007
So what would it be like to be a food taster for a man of importance? Yelena, about to be executed for murdering the son of a General, is offered a reprieve - if she becomes poison tester for the Commander. Her training is hard and immediate - she herself is poisoned and has to receive the antidote daily, thus imprisoning her without cells and chains. Constantly in danger of revenge for the murder that she committed, with the risk of ingesting poison from the Commander's food, she tries to find her position in the castle, to be good at her job, to make friends, to experience a little of life and to try to come to terms with the murder and some other strange things that have been happening to her.

We learn gradually about Yelena's former life at the hands of General Brazell and his evil son Reyad throughout the book. We also see her learning to become stronger, both mentally and physically, and to take some responsibility for her safety and future. Her poison testing master, Valek, is an enigmatic man, a former assassin who leaves her in no doubt of her likely fate in her current role, and yet is he really as cold-blooded as he seems? Even the Commander has more to him than people initially see.

The society in which events are taking place is similar to communism, having overthrown a corrupt monarchy, but there isn't any annoying political subtext to this book - it just makes for a different setting than the traditional monarchy in a castle like so many other quasi-mediaeval fantasies. There's also an amusing appearance of a type of food which sounded suspiciously like chocolate to me!

This book is billed as a romance and there is a gentle love story in it but that's a minor part of the story - there is far more to Poison Study than girl meets boy. It's a beautifully written and interesting story of a harsh life in a harsh time where it's hard to know who to trust but where a girl can overcome her disadvantages and make something of herself.

There is a sequel, Magic Study, that I've ordered in hardback on the strength of this book (and I believe there's another to be released later in 2007). I can count on one hand the number of hardbacks I've bought in the last couple of years so this is a very high recommendation indeed.
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