Thursday, April 6, 2017
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the first book in a fantasy series (now up to 6 books) that also has a bit of romance in it. The story follows Yelena, a young woman who was orphaned and who is scheduled to be executed for murder. She gets a stunning reprieve from death if she agrees to become the food taster for the "commander" - a military dictator of the nation of Ixia. She agrees, and begins her training in poisons under the tutelage of Valek, the Commander's chief assassin. Obviously, romance results, but it doesn't feel too forced, and doesn't come too early in the book. The sex scenes are not graphic at all (very G rated), but they are described with some pretty cliche romance notions. The writing is otherwise pretty solid, as is the world-building.
With any first book of a series, we have a lot of history to go through, but the author handles it well, and it flows organically with the plot. We learn that the Commander took over from a corrupt king, and has established a benevolent dictatorship (people are all cared for and employed, but movement is restricted.) The commander has banished all magicians from Ixia, and one of Valek's jobs is to kill any who are found still practicing. This becomes problematic when Yelena discovers she has magical abilities. She has to decide if she can trust Valek in this, and with other things. I thought their slow-building relationship was quite well done.
The action moves along at a good pace, and the characters are well-done - even the secondary ones. This adds some good color to the novel, and keeps the story interesting. All in all, it was a very enjoyable read, and anyone who loves fantasy should enjoy this one.