I apologize to all my subscribers and other committed readers for not fulfilling my aforementioned promise of having this review posted either two weeks ago or this past Wednesday. But I’ve finally come around to finishing the entire book and reviewing it.
Yelena is on her way to be reunited with the family she’d been stolen from long ago. Although she has gained her freedom, she can’t help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways, and her newfound friends and relatives don’t think it’s for the better. Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magical training. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince, and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.
Before plunging into this book, I had my fears especially considering it’s a sequel to a book I loved. Usually a sequel involves a trek through familiar territory and characters with small variations to keep the reader’s interest. But never do any of the elements of a sequel live up to the reader’s heightened expectations. Instead we still favor certain elements of the first installment which the sequel fails to live up to. Is “Magic Study” inferior to “Poison Study?”
Neither are superior or inferior to one another entirely. Certain aspects of the first book are never going to be superseded. Because what novelist can perfectly emulate the experience of being introduced to new world?
After reading “Magic Study,” I was very impressed by the author’s ability to diversify the elements of the second book enough to make the story seem less like a sequel. And a tad more like another story within the same universe, where the characters are explored more in depth and more mature subjects are touched upon. Mature subjects that were only lightly touched upon within “Poison Study.”
Many Amazon reviews have expressed disappointment within “Magic Study,” and I for one cannot see that. “Magic Study,” is a different book than “Poison Study.” In this we learn more about Yelena’s character and her past. Moreover, more characters are brought within the fold who help build Yelena’s character further through their interaction with her. Some of these interactions seem more intricate than even in Poison Study. Maria V. Snyder deftly balances the growth and exploration of these characters whilst introducing a very interesting plot development at the same time. None of it seems out of place or uninspired.
“Poison Study,” seemed more like an enjoyable adventure story throughout. And with a first book that worked excellently. But “Magic Study’s” far more mature at times and her character’s actions are not morally clear. Instead, their actions and motives are morally ambiguous. At all times, we understand each character’s intentions even when we do not agree with them ourselves. Even Yelena herself is even tried throughout the novel morally. Her actions are never definitively “black” or “white.” Instead she must weigh the possible outcomes of each action and decide upon the action which shall reap the greatest amount of good.
The one element of both books that have impressed me have been the overall development of Yelena’s character. I really loved the strong female characters of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and for some odd reason it’s hard to find strong, likable female title character such as Buffy. Yelena though boasts some true strength and unlike some of her male counterparts, she’s not a stoic. Instead she’s a highly emotional individual that’s able to use her passionate feelings to aid her through challenges. At various parts of the novel, I found to hard not to cheer silently when she proved to the male characters around her that she can kick butt. Yelena never fails to impress me throughout all the trials she’s put through within the novel. Through it all, she proves to be the strongest and though some males undermine her. She proves that she can overcome anything that comes between her and the ones she loves.
To not make this review entirely positive, I’d like to express one negative element of the novel that bugged me. This element happened to be the cheesy lines shared between Yelena and Valek at certain moments in the novel. Within the first novel, their relationship had a natural progression. But within this novel, their interaction seemed rather predictable and very cheesy. At points their conversations were so cheesy, that I wondered when there would be the smart jabs we saw in “Poison Study.” I applauded Maria V. Snyder for not taking the route of making the fluff not seemed forced within her first novel;this time though it seems so out of place with a novel that’s has more depth than the first novel. And at parts puts it’s competitors to shame for it’s ability to balance so many subplots simultaneously.
These far more complicated plot developments though helped me to forgive the novel for this one shortcoming. For, any author whose able to keep their readers riveted with a sequel succeeds in not being a one hit wonder. I’d certainly recommend this book as highly as the first. With the lack of compelling novels as of recent, this series really stands out.
This song seemed to really fit a certain scene where Yelena stands strongly against another wizard’s strong magic.
All my songs seem to be all by Within Temptation. But that’s because the meaning that’s evoked in much of their music matches the events of both these stories. This one specially fits with what occurred between Yelena and Leif.
For all those who frequent Deviantart; I found this excellent piece of artwork of both “Yelena” and Valek” within a tight embrace. The user’s “Caserline,” and I would love to express how awesome this particular of fan art is. Especially considering the sparse amount of “Study” related artwork on other sites. Many of her other pieces of art are worth a glance. Here’s the link to her page; for all those who are interested.