Review: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

5 Nov

Series: Study, book # 2

Published: October 1st 2006 by Luna

Details: Hardcover, 392 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

I loved Poison study, and was really eager to continue Yelena’s adventure in this sequel. It starts out great with Yelena reconnecting with her family, native country Sitia and her magical powers. Unfortunately, in the last third of the book the plot spirals out of control – too many villains, sideplots and should-be-impossible escapes. Overall good, but it lacked that magic that was Poison Study.

A few chapters in:

I loved watching the romance unfold between Yelena and Valek in Poison Study – the first book of the series. Such a wonderful read!! Now I’ve finally got my hands on the next book in the series, Magic Study. I noticed though that it hasn’t received the same kind of praise as its prequel – which somehow doesn’t surprise me – it would be difficult to top Poison Study. But still hoping for a good read as it’s about Yelena – one of my favourite heroines!

Now a few chapters in. At the end of Poison Study, Yelena is forced to leave Ixia when it’s discovered that she knows magic (which is prohibited in Ixia). She leaves Valek behind and travels to Sitia with the fourth magician Irys and some of the other children from Braxell’s orphanage in order to reunite all the kidnapped children with their families.

However, when she is reunited with her own family, she feels as lost as she did in the castle of the commander in Ixia. Fourteen years have passed since she was taken away and she has no recollections of that previous life in Sitia. Her parents seem lovely and are happy to have her back, but her brother Leif doesn’t give her the warmest welcome – in fact quite the opposite. Unfortunately Leif is the one assigned to accompany her to The Magician’s Keep where she will begin her magic study with Irys, her mentor.

This is as far as I’ve got but I’m getting a feeling that we will be introduced to a lot of new characters in this sequel. Nothing wrong with that of course, but I hope that previous characters will show up as well, Valek in particular.

Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

Ok, so I finished the book. Looking at how long it took me to read it, you can get an idea of what I thought.

First three chapters took me a couple of days (actually – this was mostly because I was finishing another book at the time), the next 200 or so pages swished by in a blur as I read the whole middle part..in about  a day!

The last 100 or so pages? Now this part (if anything) should have constituted a race-through-the-pages, to you know, find out how it all ends. Yet, this part took me about a week to get through.

So yes, it starts out well – following the footsteps of Poison Study perfectly. Then something happens, or rather, too many things happen – mainly consisting of a large variety of sadistic magicians wanting to kill Yelena – and I found myself loosing interest. There are only so many kidnapping scenarios you can get through (even in a fantasy novel), before it grows tired.

As for the plot, Yelena returns to her native country Sitia in this book, where she reunites with her lovely parents and hateful brother Leif. Not many pages in, the first kidnapping scenario takes place. Cahil, the forgotten nephew of the murdered Ixian royal family, kidnaps Yelena thinking she is an Ixian spy. Yelena fights back (and I loved the fact that she’s strong enough to do that), which earns her a place beside Cahil on his travels towards The Magician’s keep where she will begin her magical training.

At The Keep, she begins her training with Irys, her mentor, and it’s soon evident that her powers  surpass even those who have been magicians for years. Meanwhile Cahil and Yelena continue a complex relationship not sure if they are friends or enemies. Of course, as a reader, you assume that it won’t be too long until Valek appears. And seeing as Valek is the very one who murdered Cahil’s entire family, you anticipate an interesting conflict for Yelena. So far, I was loving it!

Then Valek does appear, along with some other favorite characters from Ixia, and I’m sad to say that this is where the plot got out of control.

First of all, Valek himself was a disappointment. Not many dialogues are exchanged between them. And I felt he had lost that fierceness we came to love about him in Poison Study. What made Yelena and Valek my favorite couple in the prequel was that they were both so head-strong, providing passion and conflicts to their relationship. Here, Valek has been dismissed to being a flat character merely there to provide Yelena with help whenever she needs him, to move the plot along. And while I’m at it, what’s up with Valek calling her “love” in every single sentence? Don’t know why but that annoyed the crap out of me.

Now back to my point – the plot did get out of control in that third part of the book. Yelena (along with the Sitian council) is chasing one sadistic magician who has been torturing and murdering young women in Sitia (very similar to Mogkan in Poison Study). But as if that wasn’t enough, about 3 or 4 (I lost count) others are after her as well, providing subplots in the last 100 pages.

The Bottom Line:

Consequently, what started as a really promising book, what with all the wonderful descriptions of Yelena’s native country and her magical powers, ended in a bad B-movie with too many villains and seemingly impossible escapes for our heroine.

In addition to all of this, Yelena has become too strong. Meaning, the fighting skills she improved in Ixia combined with her increasing magical powers make her impossible to beat. Now, I don’t mind a butt-kicking female character, but this added to my lack of interest in the final pages. No villain was ever a match for her! Hence, the lack of suspense. There was always some obscure magical ability she could use to disarm whoever was threatening her. Yawn.

It was much more fun watching her growth from insecure and weak prisoner to butt-kicking heroine in Poison Study, just saying.

As for the third book in this series, Fire Study, I am now a little bit hesitant. I would like to finish the series though and probably will, but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.

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