Monday, 5 January 2015
Review: Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder
Publication Date: February 24th, 2015
Series: Study #7/ Soulfinder #1
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New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.
Once, only her own life hung in the balance.
Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.
Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.
Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous.
I originally read and love the original Study trilogy 5 or 6 years ago. Fire Study ended on a satisfying moment. But I feel in love so of course I always wished for more. Than last year(or maybe late 2013) Maria Snyder announced she was continuing on with the trilogy. Turing it into a 6 book series. I was beyond ecstatic. More from these characters and world? Yes, please! It's exactly what every book nerd wants to hear; an author is continuing on with one of your favourite finished series. Now I know this is being pitched as a different trilogy title, but I highly, highly suggest you start with the Study series, the first book being Poison Study. Not only are those books fantastic, but Shadow Study is really a continuation from those characters lives. Which I love.
In Shadow Study we see that Yelena's life is still as hectic as before. Being the soul finder and liaison between Sitia and Ixia makes her a busy lady. After months she's finally on her way to meet up with Valek for a few days rest when she's attacked. Kiki(her horse) is able to throw Yelena off which means the arrow just misses her heart. Kiki rushes her to Valek, who than goes in search of the assassin but comes up with nothing. The couple spends a night together before Valek has to go back to Ixia early. Right after he leaves Yelena gets a fever, she's worried that something in the arrow poisoned her. Eventually she becomes more coherent and realizes her magic is gone. Thus starts all the real action. Yelena heads off to the magicians keep in the hopes that someone there knows what's happened to her. Valek has gone back to the Ixia and the commander where he's dealing with a huge smuggling ring, which may be more than it seems. Than it's revealed that Owen Moon has escaped from prison, which is far from perfect for Yelena. The commander has warned Valek not to get involved. So needless to say is that Yelena's life is in danger from multiple directions and Valek is dealing with a lot of his own problems well worrying about Yelena and his dilemma about whether he should go against his orders and go to her.
I got a very pleasant surprise when I came across the first chapter from Valek's POV. I was so excited, seeing as the couple is separated. Than I come across a Janco chapter and may have started flailing. I absolutely adored Janco in the previous books, so of course this made me smile. I love Yelena but with so much happening outside of just her story, it was a very welcomed surprise to be getting alternating chapters between the 3 characters.
Knowing Yelena from the previous books, she is a very capable and kick-ass gal. She's been through a lot which has made her able to survive through whatever life throws her way. But in the past 8 years she has come to depend on her magic heavily. So without it Yelena is pretty paranoid. She no longer can feel the world around her through her magic. She's feeling pretty vulnerable. And with a long list of enemies it's not hard to see why. Like I said, Yelena can still kick ass without her magic, and she shows how much so throughout the book.
What I loved about Valek's chapters is that we finally get some of his back story that I craved so much. He reminisces about his time learning to become an assassin and the lead up to meeting the commander and assassination of the king. I really enjoyed learning how that all came to be. It also fits in with Valek's current dilemma. Firstly, he wants to break orders and go be with Yelena. But he's also feeling like the commander no longer trusts him. He was away from Ixia for a quite a few months and it seems like something changed during that time. It really seems like Valek's job is to worry. Valek definitely has a lot on his plate, but he's definitely at the point where he's wondering if his first priority should be the commander anymore. Yelena and Valek have always had an understanding on where they stand. They are heart mates and love each other deeply, it's just that they both have other responsibilities that have kept them apart. A lot. Valek's just questioning himself on if that's what he wants anymore. I love Valek. And I love him and Yelena together. One of my ultimate ships. Everything about them as couple is perfection. They're hot together, but being apart so much doesn't change anything. Valek knows how very capable Yelena is in taking care of herself. He wants to take care of her, but it's not in a needy, you're a women which means you're useless way. He just loves her. Guh, so much love.
Janco is the comic relief. Him and Ari's relationship is the ultimate bromance. The fight and bicker and it adds a lot of laugh out loud moments. Janco's chapters really added to the story. Like Valek was finding out, there's a lot happening in Ixia that was going under the radar. Unexpected and unwanted things. Characters that were trustful in the previous books might not be so anymore. Janco has that job of routing out the smuggling ring. He's paired up with a new character, who I cannot wait to learn more about, and do I spot a bit of a romance happening for Janco in the future? Please. Everything Janco does adds hilarity to the situation, as he gets the job done. He's kind of needed to diffuse the tension. All three story lines intersect and eventually come together. It really worked out getting the 3 different POV's, with so much underground shit happening in Ixia and Sitia, they were needed to get the whole story.
I love this world Snyder has created. Like with all good fantasy books there is a map at the front of the book. But Snyder also makes it very easy to understand the world. Her writing and world building is very accessible. I'm all up for a detailed fantasy world, and it's not lacking in Shadow Study, it's just very easy to follow through the land and different magical abilities. I think the magic system is quite interesting. Shadow Study is also pretty much non-stop action. Yelena's life being endangered means she's continually running from threats, well trying to figure out how she get her magic back. There's just something about this series that keeps my attention from the first page. I love everything about it. Snyder also knows how to really keep you reading. Every chapter ends in a small cliff hanger. But of course it's enough to make you not able to put the book down. So in other words make sure you carve out enough time in your day to read the book in one sitting. You'll be doing that anyways.
I also do recommend reading the Glass Trilogy, which takes place after the Study Trilogy, so before this book. I have yet to read that trilogy(I have no idea why not), but I really wish I had. It certainly didn't mean I was confused with the events taking place, but there was quite a bit brought up and incorporated into the story of previous events. I just recommend reading all the previous 6 books before starting Shadow Study. It's not necessary, but it will definitely help make sense of all going on.
I'm still a little more partial to the original trilogy, but I definitely think Shadow Study is a strong continuation of Yelena's and Valek's story. It is everything I wanted and hoped for. All the characters I loved have returned. This is Brittany's happy place. I am now very impatiently waiting on 2016 and the next book in the series. The wait will surely kill me.