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Poison Study (Study, Book 1) Paperback – February 20, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Shivers, obsession, sleepless nights—these are the results not of one of the milder poisons that novice food-taster Yelena must learn during her harrowing job training but of newcomer Snyder's riveting fantasy that unites the intelligent political focus of George R.R. Martin with a subtle yet potent romance. Through a stroke of luck, Yelena escapes execution in exchange for tasting the food of the Commander, ruler of Ixia. Though confined to a dank prison cell and doomed to a painful death, Yelena slowly blooms again, caught up in castle politics. But some people are too impatient to wait for poison to finish off Yelena. With the help of Valek, her steely-nerved, cool-eyed boss and the Commander's head of security, she soon discovers that she has a starring role to play in Ixia's future—a role that could lead to her being put to death as a budding magician even if she hits each cue perfectly. The first in a series, this is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Poison Study is both a riveting romance and a spellbinding fantasy." -- B&N Explorations
"Maria Snyder has created an engaging and entirely original new fantasy, fascinating in its rich detail." -- New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey, author of The Fairy Godmother and the Valdemar series
"This is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it." -- Publishers Weekly starred review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
A young woman on death's door agrees to become the food taster for the Commander, the highest ruling official of Ixia. This book did not capture my attention as quickly as the Healer series by Maria V. Snyder, but it was still enjoyable. Yelena was an interesting character, constantly hinged between fleeing and fighting for her and other people's lives. While I enjoyed the secondary characters of the series, I wished for more fleshed-out female characters. The ending felt really rushed as it attempted to tie up the loose ends of this story line, and yet lay the ground work for the next book in the series.
The romance was very slow to develop. It took me a while to even figure out Yelena's supposed love interest, and then it took forever for anything to develop beyond sorta friendship. I would have liked a bit more on that end. The setting also never really developed. Little details were sprinkled throughout the novel of both the setting as well as Yelena's characterization, yet I never felt like they were fully formed. Perhaps the rest of the series will delve further into everything.
Finally, the formatting of the Kindle edition seemed off. In the middle of chapters it would switch from one scene to a completely different scene with no context (spacing, line squiggles, etc.). It was very disconcerting, but it happened often enough that I eventually got used to it.
Fair warning, there are some scenes depicting violence against women.
But the romance isn't the reason for the low rating — there are just too many moments where allegedly intelligent characters act stupidly just to drag out the plot. Some of the examples
- At the feast: Yelena falls asleep, has a notably bizarre dream, wakes up to find a character with a known shady past smirking at her, and Valek says that he detected magic being used at that exact moment. Yet Yelena doesn't think to connect the dots and at least raise the possibility that maybe the sinister guy maybe was the source of the magic? Like, not even to investigate him more?
- When meeting Irys: Irys asks, "Do you know why the king is acting so totally weird?" What Yelena said: "I couldn't tell you." What Yelena should have said: "I'm not really sure but I caught a creepy sinister guy with the Commander and the Commander had a totally vacant stare. Dunno if it is related or not but figured I'd mention it just in case."
- Valek: "I'm suspicious of this new dessert. You should stop eating it, Commander, while we investigate it." Commander: "You're my chief of security but I am going to overrule you because this dessert is really good."
Also: Are you really trying to tell me that Valek couldn't command two soldiers to guard Yelena day and night? The only option was for her to move in with him? Really?
Also, again: in a world where the Rules of Behaviour are so iron-clad and ruthless it is amazing that the repeated "attempted kidnap and murder of the King's Poison Taster" is continually swept under the rug with no repercussions.
First, the characters: They were well developed and multi dimensional. This was the first time in a long time I didn't want to slap the heroine for doing something obviously stupid. She was intelligent and showed it. The author didn't just tell you she was smart she showed you through the character's actions. I was also really happy at the fact that the character was strong in her silence and restraint, and not pointlessly sassy. The main male character wasn't one dimensional, he had layers and clearly matured/developed throughout the story. All other characters introduced were well developed and not just used to accessorize the story. I developed a connection to all and had a real interest in their stories.
Second, the story: The story was well developed and unexpectedly new. I was interested in the premise since I read the book summary and didn't expect it to be so multi directional. The story wasn't stuck on one idea and developed all aspect of the story. I found myself not wanting to put the book down and I read it straight through without pause. The story was amazing.
Third and lastly, the writing: I'm always really cautious with books I haven't heard or find much information on, but this book was worth the risk. The book was well written and it was easy to follow. The settings were well developed and not too descriptive while still being descriptive. I will say one thing that might be considered negative but to me it wasn't a big deal. The first couple of pages felt like the author was trying too hard to capture my attention and show me she was a good writer. If you're able to just overlook that then the story will easily and quickly capture your interest.
Overall, my opinion of the book is that it's a must read!