Saturday, April 15, 2017
Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book 3 in the series. It picks up right where book two left off. You definitely want to read the first two before reading this one. Fans of the first two novels will be very happy with this book.
In this book, Yelena faces her toughest adversary, yet. Not only are the rogue magicians practicing blood magic, they are in league with a spirit (demon?) from the fire realm - the underworld. He is attacking Yelena through fires, and she is unable to protect herself. In addition, the Council of Sitia and the First Magician continue to be suspicious, and outright hostile to Yelena. She has to find a way to conquer the fire spirit, and to combat the increasingly powerful evil magicians. As usual, she manages to do so, but not without many dire encounters that she barely escapes. She has more lives than a cat!
And that brings up one of my complaints - Yelena doesn't seem to change much, despite all she's gone through. Yes, she does grow as a magician, but as a person she remains foolishly headstrong and stubborn. I got a little tired of Yelena rushing headlong into situations, only to have her miraculously rescued, or for her to get out of some situation - yet again - by the skin of her teeth. It got pretty repetitious after three books.
And - my biggest complaint - once again the author is using Earth terms and phrases in a completely made up fantasy world! At one point, when Yelena was reading someone's mind, she sees in his memories that he was "sodomized." Uh, that term comes from the ancient Biblical city of Sodom, and the myth about men raping other men there. On EARTH. In THIS WORLD. There is no way that in the world of Sitia/Ixia that they also just happened to have an ancient city called Sodom, that also just happened to have a myth about male rape. This is just lazy, lazy world building. Additionally, the author uses the term "voila" - the FRENCH term for "ta-da!" But, it gets worse. She can't even spell it correctly; she spelled it "wal-ah." For an author who has an MFA, this is completely inexcusable!!! Lazy world-building PLUS bad spelling!!!
It's a darn good thing that the author is otherwise a pretty good storyteller. Pacing is always good, the story has a good mix of tension and light humor, with just a splash of romance. But any fan of REAL fantasy, who has read the likes of Patrick Rothfuss or George R. R. Martin will be just as irritated as I am with the poor world-building. Readers who just want a fun, diverting semi-fantasy, semi-romance read will not be disappointed.