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Magic Study Paperback – November 18, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 256 customer reviews
Book 2 of 5 in the Chronicles of Ixia Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Family betrayal, a power-mad serial killer and a potential diplomatic crisis threaten the independent-minded heroine of Snyder's fine sequel to Poison Study (2005). With the overthrow of the royal family of Ixia, 20-year-old Yelena Zaltana, who was kidnapped as a child by the evil magician Mogkan, is now free to return home to Sitia. Her reunion with the family she hasn't seen in 14 years palls when her brother spreads rumors she's actually a spy from Ixia. At the Magician's Citadel, where Yelena enrolls to hone her prodigious magical talents, her powers raise concern that she might be a rare, powerful Soulfinder. Then a string of ugly murders reveals the presence of a rogue magician in the area. As Yelena joins the hunt for the killer, complications grow with the arrival of a diplomatic mission from Ixia—including her lover, Valek, a notorious spy and assassin, sure to be executed if anyone sees through his disguise. Snyder's lively, charming mix of romance and fantasy is sure to gain her new fans. (Oct.)
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"Poison Study is a nifty little tale of intrigue featuring a worthy protagonist that makes for a commendable debut." -- SF Reviews

"Poison Study is a wonderful and lively read. Highly recommended!" -- Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series

"Be prepared for an exhilarating adventure of danger and romance as our heroine battles for her life against rebel forces . . ." -- Dark Realms magazine

"Enchanting . . . I absolutely loved it. Poison Study is a wonderful trip into fantasy." -- Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author

"Maria Snyder has created an engaging and entirely original new fantasy, fascinating in its rich detail." -- Mercedes Lackey, New York Times bestselling author

"Maria V. Snyder makes readers believe in her world and the characters she creates, a writer's form of magic." -- The Best Reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA; Reprint edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778327124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778327127
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is Snyder's excellent follow-up to her solid first novel, Poison Study. Yelena has traveled south with the Sitian Fourth Magician, Irys, and the other surviving Sitian children from General Brazell's "orphanage," and has now arrived at the home she doesn't remember to meet a family who are complete strangers to her. Irys leaves her with her family to get reacquainted, intending to come back and get her in two weeks to take her to the Keep, where she'll be trained in the use and control of her powers.

It's a culture shock for both sides, and while her parents are welcoming, understanding, and patient, others--especially her brother, Leif--are unremittingly hostile. Leif has his own, more specialized, magical talent, the ability to sense the emotional traces of a person's actions. He knows that Yelena has killed, recently and more than once, and he concludes that she's a murderous Ixian spy.

Imagine Yelena's joy when a change in plans means that she and Leif will make the journey to the Keep alone.

It's from this point that Yelena's life starts to get even more interesting--in the sense of the old proverb--than it was during her last few years in Ixia. She and Leif are ambushed along the way, by a troop that Leif turns out to be on surprisingly good terms with--Cahil Ixia, the presumed heir to the throne of Ixia (Valek, we're told, was careless after all the adults were dead, and lost track of this infant) and his men. Even convincing Cahil (who wants this Ixian spy to reveal what she knows about the Commander's security and military dispositions) that his best course is to bring her to the Keep doesn't end her troubles, because the First Magician, Roze, is easily persuaded that she's a spy.
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing you notice about Magic Study is that a pallid teenager has replaced the exotic beauty who graced the cover of Poison Study. It's a metaphor that carries through the text as well. Magic Study has a case of "middle book syndrome;" it's not as compelling a story as Poison Study. I confess I liked Valek better when you never quite knew if he were predator or protector. He says, "Yes, love" A LOT in Magic Study, sort of dulls the edge if you know what I mean. His deference to Yelana oddly highlighted the age difference for me instead of making them seem equals. As for Yelana, I preferred her on the precipice as well, rather than developing a new superpower to get her out of EVERY situation. And there are plenty of situations arising in Magic Study - a few too many, at least one subplot line could have been eliminated with no great detriment to the story.

I will say I loved the character of Cahill. His every action flows believably from his brash immaturity and his belief in his own PR. He moves the plot along, but does it all completely in character. I'm interested to see how he develops in the next volume.

Reservations about Magic Study aside, I will be buying Fire Study as soon as it's released, in the hopes that it recaptures the spark of Poison Study.
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By lwd on October 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Magic Study, the continuation of the adventures of Yelena and Valek, has it all, without being a clone of it's predecessor, Poison Study. New scenery, a new kingdom to learn, new challenges for our hero and heroine. Fascinating new characters, new possibilities, completely different cultures, new and growing abilities. Beautifully written, you learn with the heroine, you feel more a participant, less a spectator.

Four stars instead of five, simply because this is not a stand-alone book. The extremely complex relationships between Yelena, Valek, the Commander, Irys, Ari and Janko needs to be understood, in depth, as well as the world Yelena left behind, before you read Magic Study. For that you need to read the first book. That said, this sequel is wonderful, and the growth of the main characters is a joy to experience.

Importantly, at least to me, is that this story finishes it's own chapter. The conclusion is satisfactory, but as in real life, not final. A continuation is obvious, not necessary, and doors are left open to advance the saga, but there are no intentional holes in this particular adventure that make you grind your teeth in frustration. I really hate cliffhangers, and generally avoid authors that try to manipulate me in that way.

I do want to read more about the world Maria Snyder has created, not because I have to, because I want to stay involved in the lives of these people. That takes talent, not cheap tricks.

Again, Well Done!
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Format: Paperback
Too bad Yelena isn't interesting anymore. In the first book, she had her missing past and imprisonment to overcome. In book two, the author can't stop giving powers and emotional jackpots to Yelena.

She re-unites with her birth family in chapter one, but her brother hates her. Wait, it turns out he really hates himself. Never mind; for an apprentice magician he was written as very stupid, and his plans were all easily foiled by Invincible Yelena.

Then Yelena reaches the university, and gets meets her bestest friend in the entire world. It's the magical telepathic horse Kiki! With a cool gust-of-win(d) gait which outshines all other equines.

Meanwhile, Yelena is feeling sort of down at being apprenticed to one of the four living Master Magicians, so who shows up but her Perfect Love and friends from book one? They make her feel better.

The actual plot? Well.. Yelena develops the power of telepathy (and forced sleep), the power of healing, the power of earning and commanding the trust of beggar children (with her apparently infinite supply of money), and gosh, she might just be some Invincible Magician Specialty which comes along once every two hundred years.

Oh wait, the plot. Stop a murderer who is a magician. Invincible Yelena to the rescue!

Overall, this book felt like a shallow romantic parody of a fantasy adventure story, and I can't recommend it. I found the characters one dimensional, and I never worried Invincible Yelena could get hurt from heading foolishly into danger. Not as good as the first one.
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