by Maria V. Snyder
Published June 1, 2004 by Mira Books
I totally enjoyed this book. It includes a great heroine who learns to take care of herself, an interesting world and even a bit of romance.
This book reminded me a lot of a Tamora Pierce book with her strong heroine who learns to take care of herself, even in the worst of circumstances. It is a fantasy with magic, adventure, romance and some mystery. I have seen Maria V. Snyder’s name around but hadn’t read anything by her and I now want to gather all her books to me and keep them on my shelves so I can pick them up to read again. I do that with Pierce’s books too when I need a pick-me-up.
Yelena was in jail for killing a man and has the choice of execution or becoming the Commander or Ixia’s food taster. She opts for life and learns to survive and scent poisons. Her mentor is the chief of security, Valek.
This is a military state. The coup happened a while ago, the Commander killed the monarchy and there is someone trying to kill him now. Yelena seems to be developing magical powers that she has little control over and unfortunately magic is now thoroughly distrusted and magicians are killed on sight. It makes things tough. The intrigue mounts and Yelena is involved. It is awesome.
Yelena has been forged in fire, many times. Which should make her brittle, but she has a core of steel and once she finds her footing, it shows. She is haunted by ghosts and the unknown but she learns and tries and cares. She is a strong, kick booty heroine I loved rooting for. She makes friends by being a real and nice and fair person even though people haven’t treated her that way. She is smart and tricky. Such super fun! So if you like the fantasies with underdog heroines who pave a way for themselves – this is not to be missed. PLUS there is a very nicely developing romance that is secondary to the storyline, but works oh so well. This is the first in a trilogy. I just got Magic Study and am going to dive in soon because even though there are many many books ahead of this one, I just can’t wait to let it age on my shelf like normal. Because I was so emotionally in love with this story and because it was awesome and the type of genre I enjoy, I give it 5 stars. I think I found another keeper series for my poor bookshelves.