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Poison Study

Poison Study


Poison Study

ratings:
4/5 (1,993 ratings)
Length:
424 pages
6 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Aug 15, 2012
ISBN:
9781459248267
Format:
Book

Editor's Note

Politically & emotionally fraught...

The first book in Maria Snyder's critically acclaimed fantasy series introduces Yelena and the politically & emotionally fraught universe she inhabits. An incredibly engaging blend of fantasy, romance & suspense.

Description

Murder, mayhem and magic.

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die, but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster--chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned--has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed--me--must be offered the position.

Publisher:
Released:
Aug 15, 2012
ISBN:
9781459248267
Format:
Book

About the author

When Maria V. Snyder was younger, she aspired to be a storm chaser in the American Midwest so she attended Pennsylvania State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. Much to her chagrin, forecasting the weather wasn't in her skill set so she spent a number of years as an environmental meteorologist, which is not exciting…at all. Bored at work and needing a creative outlet, she started writing fantasy and science fiction stories. Over a dozen novels and numerous short stories later, Maria's learned a thing or three about writing. She's been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a half-dozen awards, and has earned her Masters of Arts degree in Writing from Seton Hill University, where she is now a faculty member. Her favorite color is red. She loves dogs, but is allergic, instead she has a big black tomcat named…Kitty (apparently naming cats isn't in her skill set either). Maria also has a husband and two children who are an inspiration for her writing when they aren't being a distraction. Note that she mentions her cat before her family. When she's not writing she's either playing volleyball, traveling, or taking pictures. Being a writer, though, is a ton of fun. Where else can you take fencing lessons, learn how to ride a horse, study martial arts, learn how to pick a lock, take glass blowing classes and attend Astronomy Camp and call it research? Maria will be the first one to tell you it's not working as a meteorologist. Readers are welcome to check out her website for book excerpts, free short stories, maps, blog, and her schedule at MariaVSnyder.com. You can also follow Maria on Facebook and Goodreads.


Reviews

What people think about Poison Study

4.1
1993 ratings / 194 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Firstly, I loved this book. However, when I finished the book I couldn’t really figure out WHY it has been marketed as YA. It features a not so young-adult protagonist, deals with rape and brutality, violence as a means of defence and and features a very complicated romance. It has none of the markers of traditional young adult fantasy, and yet, it has been marketed that way. This is really the only problem I have with the book - everything else is amazing. The characters in Poison Study are captivating - they have lots of layers and complex relationships that come to light over the course of the story. Yelena is incredibly strong willed and tenacious, and the mystery that surrounds her past intrigues me. My initial impression of Valek was that of an unthinking henchman, but he is revealed to be much more. He eventually became my favourite character - especially because a lot of the humour in the book came from him as well as Yelena. While simple, the plot of Poison Study is enjoyable. There are some twists that are immediately obvious, but others that take the reader completely by surprise. One of the best aspects of the book is the writing. Maria V. Snyder shows she has complete mastery over her intricate story by telling it using deceptively simple techniques.While I had been wanting to dip my toes into the works of Maria V. Snyder for a while, I had not anticipated to enjoy Poison Study as much as I did. It was wonderful for me to read some YA in the vein of more traditional fantasy, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Study series. If you love fantasy, you should check it out!You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.
  • (5/5)
    The Little BookwormTo escape a horrific life, Yelena does something horrific in turn; she murders the son of her orphanage's benefactor who is also the General of her District. Sentenced to execution, she is offered the chance to live if she take the job as the food taster for the Commander of Ixia, a job that comes with many risks of its own. Now she chances death with every taste all the while dodging assassins from the General and magicians from the southern continent who seem to have it in for her as well.Question: How awesome is this book?Answer: Pretty freaking awesome!I've seen this around and finally got around to reading it. I wish I had read it sooner because it was really really good. The main character reminded me a bit of Katsa but without the awesome Graceling powers. Yelena had such a strong spirit and great survival skills. When she is offered the poison as food taster, she immediately begins to calculate her escape. Even after she is tied down to the position by the poison she is given to prevent this escape she does everything she can to prevent being killed by the General whose son she killed, learning a lot about herself along the way.All the characters were well drawn and, in addition to, Yelena, I especially liked Valek, the chief of security and the Commander who is a very interesting character that surprised me at the end. I liked how level-headed and fair the Commander is and the friendship between him and Valek. I also liked the dynamic between Yelena and Valek. The story really sucked me in and it was one of the first books I've stayed up late to finish in a long time. It was intriguing and sad and fantastic and hopeful.
  • (4/5)
    Poison Study was fun to read, with a lot of action from beginning to end. The plot was interesting, even if at times entirely predictable. Even so, knowing how it was going to play out didn't take the joy out of reading, and the few times it did manage to surprise me were good ones.The greatest thing about Poison Study were the characters. It wasn't so much about the story but how the characters related to each other and what made them tick. I especially liked Yelena, the main character, and Valek (of course), but the others were close behind in likeability.The worldbuilding in this book is also very good, even if simple. We have two countries: Ixia, where the action takes place; and Sitia, a country that is seen as a haven for those who want to flee Ixia. Ixia is under a military dictatorship, but what is great in Poison Study, is that the inclusion of a “bad” type of government is not a green card to assume everyone in power is bad. Sure they have their flaws, and lack of freedom is something I never like, but as I got to know the Commander (the one who rules Ixia) I realized he wasn't going to be portrayed as evil and manipulative. I should have been expecting it, with a main character that is an assassin and spy, but I was impressed with the shades of grey of most characters, which is a thing that I always love.I really liked Poison Study and, even if the plot was predictable at times, the characters made the book a page turner. I'll keep on reading the rest of the series because I really want to know more about these characters and this world, especially about Commander and Ixia.Also at Spoilers and Nuts
  • (4/5)
    Snyder weaves an entire tale around a food taster’s life. Nineteen-year-old Yelena has been sentenced to death for the murder. She is given a choice, either serve as the Commander’s food taster, or swing from the gallows. She, of course, chooses to live. What she doesn’t know is that this means a life of captivity, fear of constant death, and involvement in political intrigue. It only gets worse when the reader discovers that Yelena is also being pursued by the father of the man she killed, a powerful General and ruler of one of the military districts that make up the military dictatorship of Ixia.The characters are what really make this work shine. There are two primary characters, Yelena and Valek. Valek is the Commander’s chief of staff, and the man who has put Yelena into the awful position is in, at least as concerns the food tasting. But he is also an assassin with compassion. He serves his commander ruthlessly but not blindly, and his empathy and care for Yelena give her a juxtaposition she is quizzical about for much of Poison Study. The story is told entirely through the heroine’s eyes, giving the reader the ability to empathize and agonize with her. Yelena becomes a character we care about, and would like to be. She is strong-willed and intelligent, but still a woman through and through. Snyder has created a well rounded character not too perfect but not grotesquely flawed either but simply a woman doing her best in difficult situations.I highly recommend that you read Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study. It’s a little different from the standard fantasy, but still fulfills all the expectations of the high fantasy connoisseur.Full Review at Grasping for Wind
  • (4/5)
    Imprisoned for murder, nineteen-year-old Yelena is given a choice - face execution or become the food taster for the Commander of Ixia. She chooses the latter despite the daily risk of poison and so an exciting story begins. There is a wonderful blend of adventure, fantasy and romance in this book making it a page turner. Yelena is an ideal heroine - brave, resourceful, intelligent, feisty and at times vulnerable. Narrated by Yelena, the reader quickly comes to empathise with her and with the position she finds herself in. As Yelena makes friends, she also makes some powerful enemies who are determined to kill her whenever the opportunity arises.Thankfully, Valek, the Commander's chief assassin, is on her side. He teaches Yelena to recognise the taste and smell of various poisons, and is strong, imposing, protective and, of course, handsome. Gradually the relationship between Valek and Yelena moves from teacher/student to something more intimate.While the the plot is a bit weak at times and it is difficult to form a complete picture of Ixia, this is still a satisfying read filled with suspense, intrigue, betrayal and friendship which will appeal to a wide range of readers.
  • (3/5)
    3 stars and a half

    Well, where to begin? To be honest, I almost dnfed the hell out of this book after the first couple of chapters due to the writing style, but ended up being too caught into the plot to give it up.

    The writing is really strange and threw me off multiple times. I think the major issue is the emotional attachment, and I think up to reading that book I hadn't realised how important infusing the book with emotions is important. There are some emotions displayed, it's not that it's totally absent (otherwise it wouldn't be readable), but it's almost as if it's told from a far away POV which is still acknoledging how such or such character must feel, but not really care about said characters and rather describes the emotions kind of flatly instead of making you actually feel for the characters.
    Another issue, from my point of view, is the time lapse. It's like you've got entire really important scenes happening and then it's cut, and you don't really hear or see about the aftermath (especially the emotional and psychological one) since some time has passed (and I say "some" but it happened that suddenly two months had gone by).

    The characters are enjoyable, and I particularly appreciated reading about Ari and Janco. Valek grew more multilayered with time, which I was quite fond of as well, and I quite liked Yelena. But as though some of her faults are shown, it still seems to me that she's a bit too perfect for my liking. She doesn't master everything, but still doesn't take long in almost-mastering so many things that it didn't always seemed realistic. I still liked reading about her past and present situations and what she had to go through.

    Plot-wise, I'd say it was good. I was surprised by some turns of events, and now that I think about it so much happened in that book that I wouldn't be able to retrace everything from memory. So many good and bad surprises, betrayals, assassination attempts, and so on. Maybe less things could have happened and more emotions infused into the book to make it a better read, but at least the plot kept me entertained and going.

    I probably wouldn't really recommend this book, and thus the series. I myself don't think I'll be reading the next books, from the comments I've seen and my own thoughts on this first book. Also, the ending felt rushed, [spoiler]especially Yelena and Valek mutual confession of love. Sure, some (I think between 6 and 9) have passed and I'm really fond of romance and couldn't wait for these two to open their eyes, but it felt like they said "Hey, I love you" "I love you too" and yay, they're happy but let's not dwell on that or see the emotional impact of it or turn this scene into something which would make you smile because that would be too much.[/spoiler] But hey, to each their own! Be aware of the writing style before going in, though, it's really kind of strange at first.