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Saturday, April 05, 2008
Book: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder originally came out under Harlequin’s Luna line, but has been reissued under MIRA it appears. I actually listened to it from an Audible download, and was very impressed.
Yelena is imprisoned for murder, and next in line to be executed, when she is offered the chance to live by becoming the food taster for the Commander. She agrees, and begins her schooling in how to detect different poisons. Kept from escaping by having been poisoned before she realizes it, she must be present every day to receive the antidote that will keep her alive.
She befriends some of the castle help, and is tormented by others, and is especially in danger whenever in the vicinity of General Brizelle (sp? I listened to it, so I’m not sure how names may be spelled) as it was his son, Rayahd that Yelena had murdered. She begins to learn how to defend herself, and continues to impress Valek, the Commander’s right hand who trained her as the food taster, and who has responsibility for her.
Soon it becomes clear there is a plot afoot, and that all is not as it seems, and it’s up to Yelena and Valek to discover what is happening. They must learn to trust each other in order to make it through.
There are several twists in the story that I don’t want to give away, so I’ll stop here on the plot line!
I really enjoyed this one, and look forward to listening to the next two, Magic Study, and Fire Study. The story kept me interested, and I really felt for the characters, primary and secondary. I wasn’t sure for about ¾ of the story whether Valek was good or bad, though I desperately wanted him to be good, as I liked his character very much! I’m not going to tell you how he turned out, because I want you to read it for yourself! ;)
The setting is a bit militaristic, as the land of Ixia is divided up into Military Districts, and magic has been outlawed, punishable by death, with no recourse, though to the south in Citia, magicians are quite common. So while I would consider it a fantasy novel (as is suggested by the fact it was originally published in the Luna line) it has a sterile feel to it (not as in clean, but as in sans fantastical elements) because of this. Everyone in Ixia has a particular uniform according to their station and the structure is very rigid, with an industrial factory playing a key role in one piece of the plot. This factor was a little different than what I initially expected, but didn’t detract from the story at all, in actually enhanced the differences between countries.
Give it a try, I recommend it!