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Poison Study (2005)

by Maria V. Snyder

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Yelena (1), Chronicles of Ixia (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,8252901,916 (4.07)2 / 254
Yelena, about to be executed, is offered the job of food taster to the Commander of Ixia, but politics and magic keep threatening her life.
  1. 160
    Graceling by Kristin Cashore (espertus)
    espertus: Both stories of strong but vulnerable young women struggling both for survival and to reconcile with their consciences what they've had to do to survive.
  2. 133
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (stephxsu, MyriadBooks)
    stephxsu: Similarly intelligent, courageous, and resourceful heroines struggling against a fully realized world. Excellent stuff!
  3. 80
    Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce (cecilypk)
    cecilypk: both have strong female leads with budding romance and great plots
  4. 40
    The Decoy Princess by Dawn Cook (infiniteletters, CrochetDancer)
  5. 40
    The Magicians' Guild by Trudi Canavan (litaddictedbrit, lottpoet)
    litaddictedbrit: Similarly strong female lead and great magic twists
  6. 40
    Crown Duel (Crown Duel / Court Duel) by Sherwood Smith (AmethystFaerie, wordcauldron)
  7. 30
    Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder (RoxieF)
  8. 41
    Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (FutureMrsJoshGroban)
  9. 30
    Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn (aboulomania)
  10. 30
    Circle of Magic Quartet by Tamora Pierce (terriko)
  11. 30
    Archangel by Sharon Shinn (crazybatcow)
  12. 20
    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (infiniteletters)
  13. 42
    Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (joyfulgirl)
  14. 20
    Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce (terriko)
    terriko: Poison study reminded me of the whole Circle of Magic series, and the Circle Opens one.
  15. 21
    The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier (Jen7waters)
    Jen7waters: Valek reminds me of Faolan.
  16. 10
    Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn (crazybatcow)
    crazybatcow: Very similar romantic fantasy themes. Mature but not graphic.
  17. 10
    The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: Poison Study is more graphic.
  18. 10
    The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey (infiniteletters)
  19. 00
    The Drowning City by Amanda Downum (ligature)
  20. 00
    Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (wordcauldron)

(see all 27 recommendations)

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» See also 254 mentions

English (286)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (291)
Showing 1-5 of 286 (next | show all)
9th grade and up. ( )
  panamamama | Aug 2, 2022 |
I'm not sure what to think about the characters in this book. I don't know if I like them or not because they all seem kind of cold-blooded but I have to chalk that up to the world they live in.

Here's a country that was a corrupt kingdom until someone named Commander Ambrose took over 15 years ago but I think I would have preferred to live under the king than the Commander because it sounds like a police state where everyone has to wear uniforms according to their trade and district and have strict curfews. All magicians have been banned or executed. Most ran to the neighboring country of Sitia. Their law is something called the Code which is set in stone. Killing someone gets you death even if it was self-defense or an accident.

This is what happened to Yelena. She was raised as an orphan by General Brazell who had an orphanage. When she was sixteen, the general and his cruel son, Reyad, ripped her away from the others and started training her. When she failed to become what they wanted, the general gave her over to Reyad her tortured her. She killed him and was sent to prison for a year until her execution date.

Instead of being executed, she became the food taster for the Commander. A man named Valek trained her. In order to keep her from escaping, Valek poisoned her with something that needed a regular antidote that he alone knew what it was.

I'm not exactly sure what Valek's position was but he seemed to be an assassin/spy for the Commander. I guess the Code allowed for it?

I liked the plot of this book but couldn't figure out why Valek liked and supported the Commander who is just a dictator. I think he was a total sociopath but the author tried to make the Commander seem logical, just and honest.

I am going to read the next book and see how things go before I make any harsh judgements.

www.paranormalromanceslut.com ( )
  dragonlion | Jul 30, 2022 |
I can see why this would have been popular. And it was mostly fine, except I couldn't understand the motivations for loyalty to the main character. She hadn't done much to deserve the kind of loyalty she was getting, so the relationships didn't read as genuine.

From what I've seen, the sequels get much worse, so I won't be continuing. Glad to get this off the TBR list! ( )
  Tikimoof | Feb 17, 2022 |
4.5 stars
Wow, I was not expecting to like this one as much as I did! I haven't read much fantasy lately so it was great to get back into that genre a bit. I've been wanting to read this one for a while, but I didn't realize it was published 15 years ago! When I realized that, I expected it to feel a little old. 15 Years is a long time in the book world. So many trends change and people change and what they find acceptable or good in books changes along with them. However, once I started reading, I didn't think once about how old this book was. It felt like a book that could have been published last year. If the age of this book worries you, I would still give it a chance.

I thought the characters in this were really good. Yes, some of the characters, including our protagonist Yelena, do fall a bit into some character tropes that you see a lot in fantasy but I didn't really mind that. I differ from some people on tropes and cliches where I really don't mind reading a book with a lot of tropes or has a plot that is kind of cliche if it is a trope I like. So I don't like love triangles so that trope annoys me but I love found family stories or love conquers all stories so I will read books with those tropes just over and over again. All of that to say that if you are a bit more annoyed about repeated fantasy tropes, you probably won't like this book as much as I did.

I thought Yelena was a great protagonist. She had so much agency and made so many hard choices that she dealt with through out the book. She is clearly dealing with some form of something like PTSD and I love the way she is shown sort of reckoning with that throughout the story. Even though she does have a romance plot, it is in no way the focus of her story and the man does not just swoop in and fix all her problems. She still has choices to make and sometimes she makes choices that are to her benefit only. I really liked that almost everything that happens in the story is the result of a decision Yelena makes. I loved that the book gave her the ability to make those choices and I loved that the decisions she makes actually have an impact.

I also loved the love interest, Valek. I really wanted them to end up together from the moment they started working together but I really didn't think it was going to happen so I was really happy to be proven wrong. This might sound weird, but I like when characters have specific skills so I really liked his role as not just an assassin, but one that also specializes in poisons. I think that just makes the character so much more interesting vs if he was just described as an assassin. We were only just starting to get into his backstory at the end of this book, so I really hope some more of that will show up in the sequels.

I thought the plotting in this was also excellent. This book is longer than a lot of the books I've been reading lately but I got through it in 3 days and I usually read like 100 pages at a time. The story always was moving forward so there weren't a lot of down moments where I was bored or wanted to stop reading. Yelena's journey never felt rushed or that she was acquiring abilities too fast. The author specifically notes the effort a lot of these skills take to learn and that it takes a lot of practice and can't be done overnight. These sort of notes really helped me keep track of the pacing of the story and I really appreciated the fact that she made a point to indicate that these sort of skills like fighting take a lot of work. So frequently in these "a person has discovered they're magical" books, I think authors can fall into the trap of using that as an excuse for why a character learns a new skill so quickly, especially in chosen one type stories. I really appreciate that this book didn't fall into that trap.

The side characters were also really great. Such a good mix of lighthearted characters and more serious people. They all had such distinct personalities that I could picture them so well. Again, some probably did fall into tropes about who is in the sort of band of people in fantasy books, but because I thought they were well written and well imagined, I didn't have any issues with that.

I definitely do want to continue on with the series. All of the books are currently available as eBooks from my library, so hopefully I'll be able to get to book two in the near future. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who has considered reading them but have just never got around to it. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
“But joy was like a butterfly alighting on a hand; a brief rest before flying away.”

I only found this book by accident while browsing for others and was intrigued by the premise. Yelena has been a prisoner in the dungeons of Ixia for almost an year waiting to be executed as a murderer. When the day arrives, she is summoned by the security chief of the kingdom Valek himself and offered a choice – take the noose or take the position as the Commander’s personal food taster. For her, it’s a simple choice because she wants to live. But she doesn’t realize how tough her job is going to be; there are always going to be people who want to kill the Commander, but seems like there are people who want to kill her too. Additionally, Valek’s training regimen also involves poisoning her food and asking her to identify it, if any. Escaping General Brazell’s assassins, honing her skills, making friends and uncovering the biggest threat to the kingdom in a long time are just some of her accomplishments through the remainder of the book.

“Maybe if I stayed here long enough, my heart would turn to stone. Then betrayals, tests of loyalties and poisons would have no effect on me.”

I loved Yelena’s character. Initially, we can see that she is troubled by her past and has nightmares. We only get to know the truth slowly, as she is coming to terms with the abuse and torture she was subjected to. We realize why she had to commit the murder but she tries to justify what she has done because despite the truth, she still feels guilty. Slowly, with attacks coming from all sides, she decides to take matters into her own hands and takes up self-defense lessons. Death is staring at her everyday, but she still tries to help whoever she can and always regrets leaving others behind in the past. The way her magical powers form an intrinsic part of her is well described in the book and we can feel the way she uses it when she is desperately in need. Her character growth is exceptional and the writing is so impeccable that we feel ourselves on the same journey of growth as her.

“But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”

Valek initially seems like a loyal advisor to the Commander but a psychopath because he torments Yelena. However, we get to know him better through her eyes and he grows on us just as she understands his motivations and his personality. He is extremely brave, loyal and a master strategist and what I loved most about him was that he never left her behind. He was always there for her when she needed him and encouraged her to be self sufficient in case he couldn’t be. As she falls for him, I did too and it just felt right. The romance angle was very subtle in the book but still gave me all the feels. Yelena also befriends Ari and Janco, Captains in the military and they grow so protective of her that they don’t hesitate to put themselves in danger to protect her. I really hope to see more of them in the next book.

“Sieges weathered, fight together, friends forever.”

On the whole, this book really surprised me. It wasn’t the usual fantasy story. There was a lot of discussion about politics in a military establishment, the injustice in the proclamation of blind justice that doesn’t take intention into consideration, the fact that abundance of opportunities don’t necessarily compensate for curtailed freedoms and the guilt that ravages the heart of a rape and abuse survivor. We see all this and more through Yelena’s eyes and find the flaws and faults that can exist even in a kingdom run by an efficient Commander. The characters are great, the plot is mysterious and the writing very imaginative. I really look forward to reading all the books in this series as soon as I can.

“Everyone makes choices in life. Some bad, some good. It’s called living, and if you want to bow out, then go right ahead. But don’t do it halfway. Don’t linger in whiner’s limbo.” ( )
  ksahitya1987 | Aug 20, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 286 (next | show all)
Shivers, obsession, sleepless nights—these are the results not of one of the milder poisons that novice food-taster Yelena must learn during her harrowing job training but of newcomer Snyder's riveting fantasy that unites the intelligent political focus of George R.R. Martin with a subtle yet potent romance. Through a stroke of luck, Yelena escapes execution in exchange for tasting the food of the Commander, ruler of Ixia. Though confined to a dank prison cell and doomed to a painful death, Yelena slowly blooms again, caught up in castle politics. But some people are too impatient to wait for poison to finish off Yelena. With the help of Valek, her steely-nerved, cool-eyed boss and the Commander's head of security, she soon discovers that she has a starring role to play in Ixia's future—a role that could lead to her being put to death as a budding magician even if she hits each cue perfectly. The first in a series, this is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Snyder, Maria V.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zackman, GabraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Ze zaten vrolijk met je te praten terwijl ze je vergif toedienden. - Kathy Brandt, een goede vriendin die de strijd verloor, ondanks chemotherapie
Dedication
To my husband, Rodney, for all the support he has given, is giving and will give. I'm spoiled rotten.

In loving memory of Frances Snyder, Jeanette and Joseph Scirrotto.

"They would talk to you and make jokes while they were feeding you poison."--Kathy Brandt on chemotherapy; a good friend who lost the battle
First words
Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.
Quotations
"But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.” “That sounds more like a poison than a person,” was all I could say. His confession had both shocked and thrilled me. “Exactly,” Valek replied. “You have poisoned me."
"What have I earned from you, Valek? Loyalty? Respect? Trust?" "You have my attention. But give me what I want, and you can have everything."
"Yelena, you've driven me crazy. You've caused me considerable trouble and I've contemplated ending your life twice since I've known you...but you slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart."
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Yelena, about to be executed, is offered the job of food taster to the Commander of Ixia, but politics and magic keep threatening her life.

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About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered a reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace, and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust, and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and she develops magical powers she can't control. Her life’s at stake again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear!
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