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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Maria V. Snyder delivers another magical adventure in this sequel to her romantic fantasy Poison Study, which won acclaim from both the science fiction and romance side of the aisle. Yelena Zatalba, who had been kidnapped by the barbarians of the north at the age of six and survived a stint as a poison taster, now has even steeper challenges to meet: a year of magical training in her homeland to learn how to control her powers or be sentenced to death. She is also reunited with her family after a 14-year absence, but it is hardly the homecoming of her dreams. Her brother, Leif, thinks she's a spy from the north; her boyfriend risks death every time he sneaks across the border. There's a vengeful exiled prince, a would-be rapist, students jealous of Yelena's abilities -- it's enough to make poison tasting look like a day at the beach. Yelena is a wonderful character -- courageous, spirited, resilient -- and her resourcefulness in tracking down a serial killer and in discovering her own true talents makes for wonderful reading. Ginger Curwen
From Barnes & Noble's Explorations
The second volume of Maria V. Snyder's Study trilogy (and sequel to her critically acclaimed 2005 debut novel, Poison Study) pits endearing heroine Yelena Zaltana -- a young woman with untapped magical abilities who was kidnapped from her home as a child -- against her most dangerous foe to date: her shadowy past.
After spending more than a decade of nightmarish subjugation in Ixia (as a slave, a prisoner, and later as a food taster for the country's military leader), Yelena is finally free -- and heading home to the southern climes of Sitia, where her family resides. But the homecoming is fraught with anxiety: After 14 years, will her clan welcome her with open arms? Yelana's apprehension is well founded; her parents greet her with hugs and kisses, but her older brother, Leif, is certain that she is an impostor -- an Ixian spy. After being accepted as a student of magic at the prestigious Citadel, Yelena is faced with even more antagonism in the form of instructors who don't trust her or acknowledge her singular abilities. But when a rogue magician begins a murderous killing spree, only Yelena can stop him from destroying the power structure of the entire realm…
Fans of romantic fantasy tired of the same old, same old should definitely check out Snyder's Study saga, which is reminiscent of first-rate works like Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar sequence and Cecilia Dart-Thornton's Crowthistle Chronicles. Powered by a fluid, lyrical, and self-assured narrative voice and featuring realistically drawn, truly lovable characters, these novels are wondrous. Could Maria Snyder be the second coming of Misty (Mercedes Lackey)? Highly recommended. Paul Goat Allen