This series review includes Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study as well as the newest release in the ‘Study Series’ – Shadow Study. This review does not include the Glass trilogy (Storm Glass, Sea Glass & Spy Glass) that takes place between Fire Study and Shadow Study and it is not necessary for you to read them in order to read Shadow Study. This is a non-spoiler review however, I do mention an overview of each book in terms of a synopsis but nothing more than would be on the blurb of each book.
Maria V Snyder’s writing in general in all four books is extremely fast paced. Unlike other fast paced books I have read the Chronicles of Ixia are also very descriptive in terms of plot, world building and characters. The plot throughout the series does not go in a direction that you assume it would and there are constant twists and turns. Despite the constant twists and turns everything is always explained and Maria V Snyder never leaves any loose ends. Every chapter ends on a cliff hanger and this is one of the reasons why I finished these books so quickly and I could not put them down. Now let’s get into the nitty gritty of each book…
Poison Study follows the main character Yelena who is offered the chance to become the Commander of Ixia’s food taster in exchange for her life as she is awaiting her execution for murder. She takes this opportunity despite it being just as likely she may end up dead. The book then follows Yelena’s journey of becoming a food taster and learning all there is to know about every poison in Ixia. This first novel in a series not only had many surprises but also a great deal of world building that immerses the reader in to a world that seems so real that once you stop reading you forget you are no longer there. Poison Study also deals with female abuse, something that isn’t often taken seriously in Young Adult fantasy novels yet Maria V Snyder handles it so well. Along with the world building, crazy, fast paced plot, the character building and slow burning romance make this book a brilliant start to what is a wonderful YA fantasy series.
One of my favourite things about Poison Study is that Yelena is such a strong main character but does find certain situations terrifying. This is not something that you see very often in YA fantasy series as the main character is often very ballsy. Despite this you see a huge change and development in Yelena’s character throughout this books and through the series as a whole.
Another aspect of this book that I favoured was Maria V Snyder’s way of world building. Snyder manages to create this full and wonderful picture of Ixia very quickly without the reader even realising she is doing it and soon you are so invested in the world you cannot imagine it being anything but real and this is why it is one of my all-time favourite fantasy worlds.
The plot of this book as well as the characters and romance make Poison Study very different to any other YA fantasy book/series I have ever read and that is one of the reasons why it stands out as one of my favourites.
By the end this book, Maria V Snyder leaves you wanting more from the world, the characters and from Maria V Snyder in general!
Following the events that transpire in Poison Study, Magic Study takes a completely new direction in terms of plot as well as world. Magic Study follows Yelena into the magical world of Sitia in order to find her long lost parents and brother as well as to Sitia’s capital, The Citadel, to help her learn about magic and her own powers. Along the way she finds herself facing new dangers and new foes as well as making new friends.
After reading Poison Study and loving the world of Ixia I was uneasy that the second book in the series was set in a new magical world. Despite this it made me love Maria V Snyder’s world building even more. Sitia is very different to Ixia but just as fascinating and believable. I also very much enjoyed the interplay between Ixia and Sitia and how they dislike each other yet try not to get into each other’s business.
Magic Study doesn’t only let the reader into the magical world of Sitia but also into the magic system used by those that live there. Once again the magic system created by Snyder is completely unique and based upon different tribes. Everyone has an individual power but some unique individuals can do a number of magical things. The most powerful magicians in Sitia are known as the Master Magicians who all live in the Citadel. I love nothing more than to see a main character with magical powers learning how to use and enhance their power yet Yelena does it in a very unique way – without the help of others! Throughout Magic Study there is a power struggle between Yelena and the Master Magicians as they believe she should be held back from her power however, Yelena’s instincts tell her otherwise and this is what she follows.
The new characters introduced in Magic Study were just as unique and as interesting as those in the first book, who also make a frequent appearance. One of my favourite new characters was Leif, Yelena’s brother. At the beginning of the book he isn’t too happy to be reunited with his long lost sister but along the way we find out why – again massive character development which is something I always enjoy. Likewise Yelena’s character goes through further character development as she has to deal with being reconnected with her family as well as dealing with her magical abilities.
Despite this book being a second book in a series it was just as faced paced, if not more so, than the first.
The final book in the Study Series see’s Yelena having to deal with what her power means for the people around her and how she can use it to stop an uprising against her people.
In this third and ‘final’ novel, despite everyone’s doubts, Yelena shows everyone that she is worthy and capable of using her power for a good cause. It was great to finally see the Master Magicians who doubted her realise that Yelena is in control of her power and that using it will not cause harm to her or others.
What I loved the most about Fire Study was that I was now familiar with the world of Ixia and Sitia as well as all of the characters which meant that I could immerse myself into the storyline and enjoy the world, characters, and plot as one.
The plot in this final book was as strong as the first two books and the situations in which Yelena found herself in were genuinely terrifying – and for this reason I could not put the book down!
Fire Study was a very strong sequel to the Study series and I was extremely happy with the concluding chapter and would have been more than happy if the series finished there (but I was equally as happy to hear that that was not going to be the case!).
Shadow Study picks up 4 years after the end of Fire Study and sees Yelena having to deal with a whole new issue – the loss of her magic. This four year gap was noted on in the book as it mentioned how certain characters had aged which was something I appreciated a lot.
Shadow Study sees the introduction of two new points of view, Valek and Janco. These new points of view brought a whole new side to the series and I LOVED it. Maria V Snyder is very good at writing from different characters perspectives and it was easy to distinguish who was who (unlike other multiple point of view books I have read in the past). Maria V Snyder used these multiple points of view to her advantage as they intertwined within the plot and created for some interesting interactions.
Despite this book being 4 years after Fire Study, Maria V Snyder used Valek’s point of view to explain what happened in the time before Poison study, including how Valek became the kick-ass assassin he is as well as how he was involved in the Commander’s takeover of Ixia. I absolutely loved learning about Valek’s early life before he met Yelena and about the Commander’s takeover as it gave more depth to the world of Ixia and to Valek’s character.
The plot points in this book were very surprising and the story often took turns I did not see coming yet there was one plot twist that was very obvious from the beginning of the book however, at the end when this plot twist was revealed I was elated to say the least (and if you have read this book then you will know why).
Despite it being a few years since writing the sequel, ‘Fire Study’, it was as if Maria V Snyder had never been away as Shadow Study was as fast paced as ever, with cliff hangers at the end of every chapter and I could not put this book down.
Overall this was a great new addition to the world of Ixia and Sitia and I was extremely happy that Maria V Snyder has decided to write a whole new trilogy following Yelena and Valek and I cannot wait to read the next instalment, Night Study when it comes out in the UK on the 25th of February 2016!