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Poison Study [Hardcover]

Maria V. Snyder
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2005
Choose: A quick death . . . Or slow poison . . .

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace -- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust -- and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear . . .

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Product Description

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.


"Poison Study is a wonderful and lively read. I particularly love the pragmatic heroine and her stubborn refusal to give up or give in. Highly recommended!" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Light Reading Jan. 28 2007
By Bronwyn
Format:Mass Market Paperback
From the first page, it is evident that this isn't Tamora Pierce, Patricia C. Wrede, Mercedes Lackey, Sherwood Smith, or even Trudi Canavan calibre of writing. That being said, fans of the aforementioned authors will enjoy this novel for what it is: a piece of light fiction.

Poison Study does well in the plot department. I don't think I've ever read a book in which a food taster is the protagonist and an authoritarian leader is a sympathetic character.

On the other hand, I felt Poison Study fell flat when it came to the romantic relationship between the two main characters. There is undeniable chemistry and a veil of mystery (a la Court Duel by Sherwood Smith) but any romantic scenes are described in such abstract terms that you're not sure if the characters kissed, let alone did anything more interesting!

I look forward to reading the sequel, Magic Study, with the hopes that the auhtor's style will have matured in her sophomore effort.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Dec 30 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel starts out with a prisoner and a choice. Yelena Zaltana has been convicted of murder. She has murdered General Brazell's son and he hasn't forgiven her. So she is to be executed, that is, until, Valek, the chief of security, offers her a way out. She can become the Commander of Ixia's food taster and live in fear of death with every bite. This idea appeals to Yelena and so she escapes death. But death may seem welcome in the weeks that follow. Weeks that involve dodging the unforgiving General's men and surviving potentially lethal poisons....

The premise of this novel is excellent and the tidbits about food tasting are extremely interesting. They were, in fact, one of my favourite parts of the novel. Maria Snyder's writing is hooking. As soon as I finished Poison Study I immediately started reading Magic Study. I can't wait until Fire Study comes out in March.
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5.0 out of 5 stars But I want the next one Now [whining] April 17 2006
A friend told me about this book and loaned it to me. Yum. I can't wait for the next one to come out.
Yelena gets off death row by agreeing to be the food-taster for the Commander of her country. She is given a poison which requires her to recieve a dose of antidote every day or suffer an agonizing death. She has a secret that, if discovererd, would land her another death sentence. Meanwhile, all is not as it seems at the castle and our food-taster is surrounded by enemies. Intrigue, adventure, and a bit of romance ensue.
Yelena is a fabulous character and her voice (as the narrator) feels real. Characters in general are complex with good and bad points and a variety of motivations. The exceptions would be the Bad Guys who are well and truly, deliciously, Evil.
Interestingly, in this book,: 1) a military dictatorship is not necessarily a bad form of government. 2) Chocolate is very, very tasty, but very, very bad for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Dec 4 2005
This book is stunning! It captures your interest right from the first page and then keeps it throughout the book making you read on and on. I couldn't put it down. A definite must read for fantasy lovers!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to a really good author July 29 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was the first book I ready by Maria V. Snyder and I think she's great. I love the worlds she has created and always look forward to the next book. I like her characters and the pace of the action. Things don't necessarily end the way I expect, which isn't necessarily a bad thing!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great setup, lazy finish Jan. 6 2006
By A Customer
I really wanted to like this book. I bought it based on the starred review from Publishers Weekly, and the other customer review here. I was pulled right in with the intriguing setup and riveted for the first half of the book. I had to suspend disbelief at many times to accomodate the needs of the plot, but the build up with the poison training (much the focus in the first third of the book) doesn't chase the story as one might expect from the title of the novel, so the ending feels like a bait and switch.
Midway through, I was starting to feel the ennui of deus ex machina devices to get the heroine out of tight situations. Always the same rescue, and never due to her own cleverness or judgment. By the time she starts to take care of her own business, the story has turned from fantasy political intrigue into hokey romance adventure. In fact, when the heroine picks up a weapon is when the intrigue takes a back seat.
The character Valek is too perfect; the Bad Guys are too maniacally evil. Political intrigue doesn't require Good vs. Evil. In fact, it works far better when the opponents are lighter shade of grey vs. darker shade of grey (something of which George R.R. Martin, mentioned in the PW review, understands).
One problem might be the first-person pov which gets us too close and gives too biased a story.
Snyder is a fine writer, technically, but she hasn't been able to escape a story arc found in most Adventure Romance novels. George R.R. Martin this is certainly not.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love Aug. 3 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a book that i couldn't put down. I love the book series, can't wait to get the last book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Grabs you in June 21 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the first in a series of books that will grab your interest and suck you into the magical world.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing fantasy novel!
Yelena never had it easy. She grew up in an orphanage and ended-up locked in the Commander's dungeon after she killed the son of the man who took her in at age 6. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2011 by Tynga's Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like it
Poison study had a unique setup, like some other reviewers have mentioned I've never read a novel with a food taster and the protagonist. Read more
Published on July 29 2011 by Max Holiday
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Intense Fantasy with a Strong Heroine
After being imprisoned for murder in a society that does not accept self defense or accident as reasons for killing someone, Yelena is offered a choice: hang or become the... Read more
Published on May 23 2011 by Coreena
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Escape
I wanted to read the Opal Cowen series after being drawn the covers on the book-stands. I did my usual review research and found out it was a companion series to this series... Read more
Published on March 14 2011 by Hoping4More
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreaming of Books Review
(May Contain Spoilers)

I have wanted to start this series for the longest time. I've seen Poison Study pop up on blogs with always a lot of praise which naturally got me... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by Jenny "Dreaming of Books"
5.0 out of 5 stars a great start to the series
Book Club on Facebook introduced me to Maria's books and am I ever glad that they were on the suggestions page. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2010 by Cassay
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting setting, great story.
It took me a while to picture the setting for this book. I wasn't sure if it was a typical fantasy setting, or if it was an urban fantasy setting but using medieval props? Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2010 by Karoline
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites
I absolutely love this book, the story is great, so are the characters. The 2nd and 3rd books were not as good, but still good. A great series, I highly recommend it.
Published on April 23 2010 by JM
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT!!!
FANTASTIC story with engaging characters and fast paced action. I just LOVED this book - stayed up 'til 2AM to finish it then promptly started into Magic Study the next day. Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2010 by K. Wark
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