Last summer, I read and reviewed Poison Study, the first book in this trilogy. When I attended the Pennwriters Conference this spring, I was delighted to see that Maria V. Snyder, the author, was a presenter. I purchased the third book in the trilogy (the second was not for sale at the conference), had it autographed (of course), and added both Magic Study and Fire Study to my to-be-read list.
Magic Study continues the adventures of Yelena. She has been freed (physically) from all the nasty stuff that happened to her in book 1 (no spoilers here), though because of her circumstances, she must leave Ixia, where she spent her formative years. She returns to the south, to Sitia, the land of her birth, where she is introduced to her mother, father, and brother. She is also brought to the Keep, where she is encouraged to develop her magic abilities (there are rumors that she has more powerful magic than even the four masters).
But Yelena is already an adult. Most students enter the Keep, a magic school, at a younger age and are more slowly acclimated to the ways of Sitia. Once again, Yelena doesn’t fit in. In Sitia, decisions are discussed and mulled over by councils and groups. For Yelena, decisions are jumped into rashly with the hopes that she’s find or fight her way out.
I enjoyed the return of some of the characters from the first book—Valek, of course, Irys, Janco, and Ari. I also enjoyed Yelena’s relationship with her horse, Kiki. Her newfound powers allow her to communicate with her horse, which turns out to be an important ally. Yelena’s parents are intelligent and inventive, helping her with various inventions and discoveries, and her brother is annoying and damaged.
My one wish for this book is that the pace would slow down at certain points to let us reflect with Yelena on all that has happened. Everyone keeps commenting through the story on how Yelena’s life twists like knots or a snake, always jumping from one thing to the next. Sometimes, one crisis followed the next without a break. While it made for a fast read, I would have enjoyed a few more places for Yelena to slow down—either with her brother, with Valek, with Irys, or even with Cahil, a newly introduced friend/adversary.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Fire Study.