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THE BOOK -Magic Study
by Maria V. Snyder
Bk. #2 of Study
First Published in 2006 by Luna
Genre: YA Fantasy
Avg. Rating: 4/5 stars
EDITION I PURCHASED -Paperback, 419 pages
Published in 2008 by Mira Books
My Rating: 5/5 stars
THE PLOT -With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic - or face death - Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician's Keep.
But nothing in Sitia is familiar. Not the family to whom she is a stranger. Not the unsettling new facets of her magic. Not the brother who resents her return. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her rare powers, a rogue magician emerges - and Yelena catches his eye.
Suddenly she is embroiled in battle against good and evil. And once again it will be her magical abilities that will either save her life... or be her downfall.
Though I absolutely adored Poison Study, the first book in this series, Magic Study was better. I found myself more interested by the magic than the politics in the first novel, so when we were informed that Yelena was fleeing to Sitia, I was very excited. A book set completely in the land where magic has few limits? Yes please. I was prepared for a whirlwind novel that would take my breath away, and I was not disappointed. Sitia is a beautiful place that Maria V. Snyder described perfectly, and I can't wait to return in the next novel. I haven't actually checked out the synopsis for Fire Study yet, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to explore Ixia a little more, as well. Either way, I just want more magic.
Reunited with her family, Yelena can't help but feel uneasy. There are members of the Zaltana clan that believe she is an Ixian spy, and her own brother, Leif, is the main culprit. Born with the ability to read souls, Leif won't let go of the fact that Yelena has had a difficult life, killing - among other things - along the way, and is determined to keep his distance. Difficult to do when he's forced to guide Yelena to the Citadel. Along the way, they're ambushed by Cahil, claimant to the throne of Ixia. The king's nephew will stop at nothing to get information and support out of Yelena, but more pressing issues take over her mind as she discovers that young girls are being kidnapped and murdered. The Master Magicians are at a loss, and when one of the victims turns up alive, Yelena takes it upon herself to try and retrieve the girl's soul, just as she had with Commander Ambrose. As things heat up inside the Citadel, Yelena finds herself at risk yet again.
I will admit, I feel kind of bad for Yelena. It seems she can never catch a break, and it must be exhausting knowing you're constantly at the top of someone's hitlist. Her time in Sitia should have been a relaxing one after her ordeals before and during her time as poison taster, filled with magic and education, but of course a new threat has emerged. The power hungry magician that has been torturing young girls for his own power gain has targeted Yelena's abilities and wants them for his own. Our heroine underwent a huge transformation in Poison Study, going from untrusting and angry, to loyal and compassionate. I like this new side of Yelena, and I genuinely want her to find happiness. She's such a strong young woman, and I found myself loving her more with every page.
Cahil and Leif, however, I found to be severely unappealing characters - to the extent that I found myself growing very bored of them very quickly. Though both men have their own stories, I just couldn't feel anything other than disdain. Despite disliking him throughout the majority of the books, Leif did manage to redeem himself at the very end, and I feel more positive towards him going forwards. I just hope it lasts. Cahil, on the other hand, needs to grow up. We saw a different side to him when he asked Yelena to the New Beginnings feast, but the tentative friendship that followed didn't last as long as I had hoped. Cahil ended up as one of the most disliked characters I've ever read about, and I really don't think that's going to change.
On the other hand, I absolutely loved Irys. Though her inability to trust Yelena's instincts annoyed me to no end, I still found her unbelievably interesting. She has a unique outlook on everything, and I can't wait to read about her again in Fire Study. I just hope she's learnt her lesson and will start trusting Yelena.
When it comes to the other characters, there's not really much to say. Dax was welcomed with open arms when I realised he was as funny as Ari and Janco. He was a nice distraction from the power twins whilst they weren't around, and I hope we see more of him in the next book. I also adored Fisk, the darling little beggar that became a true entrepreneur. This kid was awesome and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his transformation from afar. And then there's Roze - First Magician and major bitch. She made me want to claw her eyes out, and I'm sure her arrogance will be her downfall. I really hope she mellows out in the next book.
The magic side of this novel was everything I had hoped it would be - fun, scary, dangerous, and above all, interesting. Seeing Yelena's abilities develop was fantastic, and I can't wait to see where Snyder takes them. The one-on-one sessions that Yelena had with Irys were a wonderful addition to this novel, and I hope they continue to train together. I also hope we see more of Valek's ability to deflect magic. I have a strange feeling there's going to be a huge plot twist pertaining that little skill, and I hope I'm not disappointed.
Overall, this was an absolutely fantastic sequel and I'm positive Fire Study will be the conclusion that this series deserves. Maria V. Snyder is a wonderful author with writing that flows beautifully and descriptions that create a vivid image. I can't wait to see where she takes Yelena next.