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Not Ready to Move On
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.