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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
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...
Published on Dec 30 2007 by Reader Rabbit

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Light Reading
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...
Published on Jan. 28 2007 by Bronwyn


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Light Reading, Jan. 28 2007
By 
Bronwyn "bronwynmaye" (North Vancouver, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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
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 
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
This review is from: Poison Study (Paperback)
(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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3.0 out of 5 stars A Fairly Enjoyable Fantasy-Series Opening, Jan. 17 2015
This review is from: Poison Study (Hardcover)
Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: An enjoyable opening to a fantasy series, though the characters were somewhat difficult to connect to, and the world would benefit from more detail.

Review: I enjoyed this one, though I was hoping to like it more. I like the premise a lot- Yelena is offered a choice- to be executed for murder (all killings are considered punishable be death, no matter what the reason), or to become food taster for the leader of Ixia, and likely eventually die by poison.

I found Yelena fairly likable, though I did not completely connect to her. Perhaps part of it was that she felt very multi-talented without being multifaceted? She felt generally quite straightforward as a character, though I could see that she was meant to have depth, that depth just didn't feel completely real to me. This aside, she's a very enduring person, she's had a lot of horrible things happen to her in the past, and she pushes on despite that. She's fairly intelligent and curious, and slow to trust because of her past, and forms bonds to other people slowly.

As a result, she takes some time finding her place in the palace, but she does make friends. One complaint I did have was that her relationship with her love interest, Valek, moves very quickly from friendship. It seemed strange, given the abuse in her past, for Yelena to be comfortable moving that quickly into an intimate relationship. It just seemed sudden, it might have done with more build-up, more time for the relationship to evolve.

The world was one that lacked a history, as there was a recent uprising, replacing the nobility with a military leader. The new leadership bans magic, endangering Yelena further, as power begins to awaken in her. I would have liked for there to be more depth to the world, parts of it were hard to picture. The plot was engaging, both a complete story and a part of a larger arc, as this book is part of a series.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I am planning on continuing the series, and I hope that I will connect more with Yelena in the next book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing fantasy novel!, Oct. 14 2011
By 
This review is from: Poison Study (Paperback)
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. Under the Commander's rule, murder (premeditated or accidental) is punishable by death. On the day she was to meet with the noose, she was offered another option. She could taste the Commander's food and risk death by poisoning any day, or meet her fate right away. Hoping for escape, she chose to become the food taster, but after escaping multiple murder attempts, she realizes poisoning might be the least of her worries.

I've had the Study series books on my bookshelves since 2009 and I can't believe it took me so long the read them. I've read the entire series and the spin-off series (the Glass series) in about two weeks and they were all so good I couldn't pause to write my reviews.

Right after reading the first page of Poison Study I was hooked and knew I was in for an epic ride. Set in a medieval setting with a government led by military, Poison Study is engrossing, heart-thumbing and dangerous. All the elements for an exceptional book, including a love interest (!), were present and I couldn't find an aspect I didn't like. While reading, I was reminded of the atmosphere present in Graceling by Kristin Cashore (another book I'm nuts for) and I was in Heaven!

The plot is intricate and surprising. All the event are flowing even though they don't seem related at first. Maria kept just the good amount of intrigue knitted with an expert dose of answers, to keep you on your toes and have you craving for more.

The characters are also a big part of the appeal. Yelena is stunning. She grows from unsteady girl to a strong woman in front of our eyes and it's a delight to witness. It wouldn't have been possible without the help of a couple of friends though. Valek works as an assassin for the Commander and he is Yelena's immediate superior. He's a sneaky bastard made of awesome and I love him to pieces! Ari and Janco, two soldiers in the Commander's army will also befriend with Yelena and they bicker all the time like an old married couple. They always put a spark of hope and humor in certain-death situation, making the tension bearable.

The conclusion was surprising and exciting, and as you can guess, I was extremely glad to have the second book awaiting for me, which I picked up right away! And I can tell you, after reading the trilogy, that even though all the books were great, Poison Study was my favorite. Mostly because the action is in Ixia vs Sitia.

My Verdict:

Poison Study is a work of genius by Maria V Snyder. Everything from the plot, the pace, the characters, is perfectly set-up for this novel to be unforgettable. If you love fantasy books, this is one of the best you'll be able to find!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Intense Fantasy with a Strong Heroine, May 23 2011
This review is from: Poison Study (Paperback)
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 Commander's new food taster. As the Commander's security chief and the leader of the intelligence network of Ixia, Valek undertakes her treacherous training in poisons, tasting and smelling the toxic substances. To ensure that Yelena doesn't run away, Velek gives her Butterfly Dust, a deadly poison that will kill her if she does not receive her daily dose of antidote.

So begins Yelena's life in the castle, never knowing if her next bite of food will be fatal. Baxel, whose son she killed, is plotting to kill her, she exhibits magical powers which she must control because all magicians are summarily put to death, and a rebel plots threatens Ixia and the Commander whose food she is required to taste. Through all of this, Yelena must make choices, for her own actions, whether to trust others, and even whether to trust herself.

I loved reading this book and could hardly put it down - it was recommended to me by two different people when I asked about strong female characters. It is well written and captivating. Yelena is a strong heroine, even if she doesn't always know it herself, but part of her development in the book is weighing the implications of her choices. I liked her strength and passion, and even her lack of confidence at times because they seemed so natural and normal. I really felt her humanity as she constantly weighed the consequences of her choices in impossible situations.

The world that Maria Snyder created was vivid and enjoyable, I really had a sense of it, though the book is written in a straightforward manner and is not flowery at all. Yelena's life is described matter of factly and she accepts her situation without a lot of sentiment, but she lives in a society without a lot of sentiment. This is a society that is streamlined and functional, the Commander having overthrown the opulent and excessive King. For example, people are only trained for the jobs they will perform and wear uniforms to indicate these jobs, people can be reassigned anywhere without choice, and can only travel with permission.

Poison Study also presents some other interesting moral dilemmas, primarily the idea of justice being blind and the circumstances of a crime having no bearing on the punishment. Like many good fantasies, this one presents questions about humanity and encourages us to look at ourselves.

The story is full of intrigue and plot twists, and even some romance. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy, though some of the content is intense and violent. This is one of those books that blurs the lines between young adult and adult fiction, and there are a couple of scenes in particular that make this book difficult to classify as young adult, though I think that more mature teens as well as adults would both like this book.

There are are two more books in this series, Magic Study and Fire Study. There also appears to be a couple of short side stories, Assassin Study (Study 1.5), Power Study (Study 2.5), and Ice Study (Study 3.5) to go in between the main novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a great start to the series, Nov. 12 2010
This review is from: Poison Study (Paperback)
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 (Richmond BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Poison Study (Paperback)
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. It annoyed me when it seemed she needed the help of others though, it was as if although she was strong in so many ways, she was still a damsel in distress.

As mentioned before, the plot was good. It was interesting and in so many ways, a very entertaining and satisfying read. Although then came the part where I was suddenly blindsided with this romantic bit and then the plot did a very strange twist and it suddenly became a romance novel. Not sure if I really liked that bit (they were in hiding...and doing the deed and any guard searching DIDN'T HEAR THEM?) but I let that go. I wasn't about to have this little bump take the enjoyment I had of reading the novel. I'm more curious as to what the future holds for Yelena. Speaking of twists, I really enjoyed reading about the Commander's secret. I would have never thought of that and it is one of the most surprising and well done parts of the book.

Overall, I was pleased with the book and will continue to read the series. I thought it was well worth the read. However, perhaps this is not the perfect book for hardcore fantasy fans. If you want something with fantasy (or in this case, urban fantasy) with a splash of romance this is for you.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The book you don't see coming, Dec 5 2007
By 
L. Barber "Nome de Plume" (SC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Poison Study (Paperback)
Magic Study is the book that you see in the store and you think ...hmmm cool name way better cover art than the rest of my SF/Fantasy collection...I wonder. You pick it up, flip through the pages, don't really read any and decide it is probably a gimmick. Then you buy it anyway because the cover is Sooo pretty (and maybe hate yourself a little for being so shallow). You go home, sit on the sofa then read the first page. After than you can't possibly move for the next few hours and finally come up for air with a horrible neck cramp and the utter satisfaction that comes with being in the middle of a great story. You decide that it was your amazing subconscious book-radar that led you to your purchase, not a pretty cover. It has enough of the regular markers of the genre to make it a comfortable read but it is told in such a fresh way with very original twists that make it completely enjoyable. Yelena's is a world you will not want to leave. The story continues at full speed through the sequel Magic Study which tells a very new tale but still upholds the quality of the first. The third book Fire Study should prove to continue this tradition upon its release.

The only reason I dont give it 5 stars is bacause I never give anything 5 stars.
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Poison Study
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Paperback - Nov. 18 2008)
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