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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 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 27 January 2016
A great conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. This final book in the Study series brings everything from the previous books together and wraps everything up in one neat, bow-tied conclusion. However I’m so glad that we can see these characters continue their journey in both the Glass and Soulfinder books, as I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye to them just yet.

When the murderous magician Yelena recently defeated escapes, chaos breaks lose within the Magicians Keep. For that magician knew too many dark secrets, and now they are spreading like poison through the magic world, creating warpers - dark magicians who use blood and torture to increase their own powers - and they are intent on overthrowing the Sitian councils decision for peace with Ixia. They want war!

But as Yelena learns more about her own unique powers, more and more people turn from her in fear of what she could become. Only with the aid of her Ixian friends can she hope to defeat the blood thirsty magicians, and only with Valek’s love can she prevent herself from becoming the monster everyone fears … but for all his special abilities, Valek is still just one man, and the Sitians are determined to see both Yelena and Valek dead. Just how far does their love stretch? And will they live long enough to see the sunrise?

These books have been a pleasure to read and Maria. V. Snyder remains one of my favourite YA fantasy authors. I love the magical world she has created, with Ixia’s strict rules and regimented structures, to Sitias vibrant towns and crazy clans people. These are books that I have revisited again and again through my teen years and ones I’m sure I will continue to do so throughout life. They are a must read for all fantasy fans.

I think one of the best elements of Maria. V. Snyder's writing is her ability to take her characters full circle. Always bringing them back to the place their journey began from, its forms a clear distinction for the reader as to how the characters have grown and changed throughout the pages.

This is especially true of Yelena. She has overcome death many times, mastered her powers and taken control of her life, all while remaining loyal to her friends and beliefs. However while she may have hated Valek in the beginning, she accepts that things and people aren't always what they appear and now Valek holds the place closest to her heart. They make a perfect couple.

The plot also held some twists and bends along the way that took me by surprise. But as the book is pretty action based you will find you simply fly through the pages and all you can do is hold on for the ride.

A magical, spellbinding read, I would recommend Maria. V. Snyders books to all fans of Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce and Sarah-Beth Durst. 4 stars!
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on 14 January 2016
After reading the first two books in the study series, I was somewhat excited to read Fire Study and finish this part of the series. Now that I have finished this book I can't help feeling a bit disappointed.

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.
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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 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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on 13 January 2016
Good fantasy read, characters brought to life and some gentle humour too. Great read if you don't like complicated plots and bloodthirsty tales, yet need something to keep you focussed on the storyline. Looking forward to reading more.
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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 May 2009
I will start with the fact I loved Poison Study, and I liked Magic study... can you see it is already going down hill?

Fire Study is the severely disappointing third instalment of the Yelena series. I found the plot weak, and the characters glossed over- old and new, and there was definitely no spark between any of them- particularly Yelena and Valek, which I felt in Poison Study. There was just an overwhelming lack of depth.

Most importantly however, was the distracting 'voice' as I shall call it, of the author. With some first person narratives you can lose yourself in their account, but this was not the voice of the character Yelena. It is just so badly written with clunky sentences, often in an attempt at atmosphere and tension. One paragraph for example:
'Valek and I agreed to meet back in my room tonight. He left.'

Some parts of this book could have made me cry (I won't say which bits just in case you are still determined to read it) had it been written better, or by someone else. As it was I remained dry-eyed through the turmoil, fully expecting certain resoloutions, which made it even more of a let down when I was proved right.

The summing up at the end of chapters, particularly with the explanation of her surname showing she knew she had what it takes to save her family, grew increasingly annoying. Quite a few chapters ended in questions, which really did not make me desperate to continue reading for the answers.

I would recommend Jeremy Clarkson for the audiobook narrator, as in the end that was how it read; stilted, exaggerated and down-right annoying. His voice and intonation would be perfect.

If you must read it, look for it in a charity shop, or borrow it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2009
Agree with the other Amazon reviews that the finale to this trilogy was a bit rushed and a bit weaker than the first two. The writing is still pleasant but some of the story aspects are not so well thought through. Another slightly weaker aspect is that both the language and some concepts are late 20th / early 21st century Earth, rather than the fictional world the trilogy is placed in. Still enjoyable, though.
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