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Poison Study [Mass Market Paperback]

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

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2006
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.

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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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 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book! Nov. 24 2007
By Amber
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was one of those books where as you are reading along you think to yourself 'why the hell did I wait so long to read this!?'. I can't think of any words right now to describe how good I thought this book was. I enjoyed it the whole way through and wanted to read it all in one go. Damn shame I have to work!

Not really my typical 'paranormal' reading this is more fantasy and the setting reminded me slighty of the 'Dhampir' series. Poison Study starts off simple enough and then the story unravels itself and grows into something addictive. The main characters are easy to understand and likable making this story even better.

I can't wait to read the next part 'Magic Study' and I am sure I will be buying 'Fire Study' when that comes out next year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreaming of Books Review Feb. 20 2011
(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 interested in reading it. Once I read the first chapter, I was hooked.

The story is about Yelena who is next in line to be executed for murder but she is offered a reprieve by becoming the Commander of Ixia's food taster. Knowing that life as a food taster is dangerous; when Yelena is offered the opportunity; she jumps at the chance to live. Yelena has had a horrific past which led to the murder she committed. Yet through it all she's strong, intelligent and brave.

At the beginning, I really didn't think anything romantic would develop between Valek and Yelena. He seemed like he would be the protector/father figure for Yelena. As I kept reading, I could sense that there was something more between the two that was just under the surface. Ari and Janco were great secondary characters too. They're both honest guys that see that Yelena is a good person and really look after her.

Now that I've read Poison Study I see what all the fuss is about. I've already order the second and third books and hope the rest of the series will be just as great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a great start to the series Nov. 12 2010
By Cassay
Book Club on Facebook introduced me to Maria's books and am I ever glad that they were on the suggestions page. Poison Study is set in a very interesting world with magicians who have been exiled from Ixia and Ixia has a strict political system.

Yelena is about to be executed but has a 2nd chance of life to be a food tester. Yelena is a very strong character she was put through hell during her teenage years and did the unimaginable to save herself which landed her in the dungeon. She doesn't put up with any crap from anyone. If someone tries to pull a fast one on her, she hands it right back.

I do love me some Valek. He is one hot assassin. He is also very protective of Yelena, when no one else is. I must have a thing for fictional characters that are protective of the female lead. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

I did not want to put the down this book down. Maria kept my attention; I always wanted to know what was going to happen to Yelena next. I just couldn't wait for work to be over so I could read at home.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting setting, great story. Sept. 21 2010
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
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? it took me a bit to actually get the picture. It's an interesting way to create a world and I'm still trying to picture it. Some may have trouble with it (especially those who are so used to epic fantasy settings like in LOTR or in Forgotten Realms novels), some might picture it easily. I think what got me was when the different parts of Ixia was divided into 'districts'. Wait a minute. Fantasy doesn't do that. At least the fantasy that I am used to reading. So, you can see what I am trying to get it when I'm talking about the setting for this book.

From the start, there's a lot of intrigue and political scheming. Which is great because it adds more feeling to the story and you can't help but keep reading to wonder what might happen next. I really liked how Yelena got herself out from the state of being close to death and all of sudden a food taster, but also a 'frenemy' of Valek's. She was forced to trust him, but at the same time she didn't like being under his thumb. They had an interesting chemistry going on (until later in the book - where it became blatantly obvious). I had to admit though, I like Valek. (Yes, I have a crush on Valek, nothing new, read on). He's the strong but silent type that you can't help but be drawn to. I also enjoyed reading about Janco and Ari as they provided the comic relief but were also extremely likable characters. Yelena as a character is well written, I liked her because of her strong will to survive under her circumstances.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to a really good author
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. Read more
Published 3 months ago by L. C. L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love
It's a book that i couldn't put down. I love the book series, can't wait to get the last book
Published 15 months ago by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Grabs you in
This is the first in a series of books that will grab your interest and suck you into the magical world.
Published 16 months ago by B. Arthurs-jones
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 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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