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Poison Study (2005)

by Maria V. Snyder

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Study Series (1), Chronicles of Ixia (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,2363102,013 (4.06)2 / 263
Murder, mayhem and magicâ?¦ Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die-but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose. But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster-chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned-has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed-me-must be offered the positi… (more)
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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Name that Book: Poison taster main character magic3 unread / 3dramaticbook, October 2015
 Name that Book: fantasy book: theobroma8 unread / 8zjakkelien, September 2012

» See also 263 mentions

English (302)  Dutch (3)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  French (1)  All languages (308)
Showing 1-5 of 302 (next | show all)
I always have so much fun reading Snyder's stories! From the first chapters, her tales pull me in and intrigue me. "Poison Study" was the same- a very interesting premise with cool characters and a fantasy world that always makes sense and is well developed. I FLEW through this book and am really looking forwards to continuing with the rest of the Study series.
The only downside to Snyder's writing is that I think it lacks a certain lyricism. Her writing is very direct, getting from Point A to Point B with little description or elaboration on details.
I'm hoping to see more writing style development as the series goes on, but I'll probably like them either way. :D ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
The main character is a girl, Yelena, about to be executed for murder, but is given the option to be the Commander's food taster. However, his right-hand man, Valek the chief of security, poisons Yelena and only a daily antidote will keep her alive, so she can't escape. There is intrigue about possible magics used in Ixia - where it is forbidden after a takeover by the military over a corrupt monarchy who imposes very totalitarian and sparse dictatorship - and attempts on the Commander's life/mind.

I found the aspects of the military dictatorship interesting, as there are rules where everybody has a job and in order to transfer to another town, there has to be proof from your employer and proof there is a job waiting in the new town. Papers, as it is. There are also soldiers in each town who recognize their regular citizens and can arrest strangers or loiterers. Also, nobody is taught anybody beyond what their job entails, so learning for the sake of learning is frowned upon - viewed with suspicion - and libraries are in disuse. Religion is banned, and music is scarcely allowed. However, after the corrupt monarchy and nobility allowed their men to go and kill unjustly and used magicians to torture "lesser" citizens on the whims of nobility, I suppose the rules - "the Code of Behavior" - is favored by a lot of their citizens. I wish there was more expanded on this from the public's general feeling, but I do know this book was meant to introduce Yelena to us. Perhaps the third book will delve more into this when Yelena returns to Ixia. ( )
  b00kdarling87 | Jan 7, 2024 |
The cover I prefer the most is cover 3, the hardcover edition, with the first cover in a close second and I'm not overly fond of the YA cover (it pretty, but its not very good at engendering any sort of thoughts about the book). The UK covers (of which there are two--YA hardcover and YA softcover), are both very pretty, with the YA softcover winning out because it depicts Yelena with a bo-staff.

The brutality of what Yelena faced in a relatively short amount of time (before the start of the book) would probably have broken most people. There isn't an in depth description of prison life, but from her appearance and short clues she gives us it couldn't have been a particularly good year of living. I often wondered if she could have turned things back if she would have changed things and tried to live a less...riotous life. I don't honestly believe so though, because she doesn't have the character (the will) of a person who would change things for an easier life if it meant another had to suffer.

There are occasionally plot contrivances to keep the plot moving or propel character development (how they finally figure out where Criollo comes from is such a thing), but nothing as overt as 'Yelena found a book that told her exactly what was happening and how to stop it'. Yelena earns most things the hard way--her self-defense, the trust of practically the entire cast and even her victories come at a price.

I know from message boards and the like that Ixia, where Poison Study is located, isn't the ideal sort of set up for most. Its very much a military dictatorship--with all the paperwork, discipline and uniformity expected of such. You come to find out though that the two countries--Ixia and Sitia--are pretty much polar opposites on each ends of extreme beliefs.

Commander Ambrose believes that orderliness and properly channeling talents is the only way of keeping control and from what we are told of the past monarchy's rule there is something to what he says. He rewards hard work, but doesn't expect someone to toil away at a job because he has to. He wants the people of Ixia to want to work towards a better life. There isn't any poverty or unemployment (at least not in any measurable amount). Its kind of communist.

Sitia is described almost like a hippie commune but with magic. Something the Commander does not tolerate. We find out why eventually.

As far as romance goes, its not a focal point of the novel at all. It happens over the course of time--Yelena doesn't see Valek and go 'Wow give me some of that!', she's actually very distrustful and wary of him for a long time. Since this is a first person POV from Yelena, we can't know Valek's immediate feelings upon meeting Yelena, but we can guess (she's basically bones with a fine tissue paper skin stretched across, smells like a dung pile and is a confessed murderess, I can't imagine that's a turn on for him). When feelings are made to be known Yelena doesn't suddenly become worried about how she looks or acts or Valek's opinion--well she worries over Valek's opinion, but that has less to do with romance and more to do with staying on his continual good side as an employee of his. Doesn't do to piss off the foremost spy and assassin in the realm eh?

( )
  lexilewords | Dec 28, 2023 |
Yelena is up next for execution, but is offered a reprieve if she's willing to become the Commander's food taster. The only catch: she's been poisoned and needs an antidote from Valek, the Commander's chief of security daily to not die a slow agonizing death.

Very fun fantasy with some political intrigue and a slow burn romance that's much more in the background than in more current romantasy titles (fortunately I like it that way). Yelena grows a lot over the course of the story, and I had a blast learning along with her. There are a couple of fight scenes that get pretty gory, but I was enjoying other aspects enough that I could gloss over them. ( )
  bell7 | Dec 4, 2023 |
A very very promising first book in the series! Recommended!

World building was good: clear and well detailed descriptions of scenes and environments. You had a good feel for the world the author painted with her words. As this is a new series, there is a lot of describing and explanations about geography, the way of life, the law,... but never did it get boring or did it feel 'unreal'.

Character development was excellent! We follow Yelena through her trials and tribulations as she undergoes her training as a food taster. We learn a lot about her: her history, what she fears and what she loves. We grow alongside her as she works with Valek in keeping the Commander safe. They have a special working relationship those two, and you just feel there is something in the air...
Our support cast is great, they have their own story, they have a lot of interaction with Yelena and Valek and are well written into the story.

Pacing and flow were great. As the first instalment of a series, there is always the necessary 'world building' and 'setting the stage', but that didn't take so long. After that it was a very good spread of action and conversations to further along the story.

The book in itself was well written and I found no (noticeable) errors. What I did find strange is that they kept referring to the weapon Yelena used later in the book as a bow, but was more a staff... so yeah.. that was confusing. There are references to sex, but nothing is described as such.

All in all I am very pleasantly surprised with this book!! I would recommend it to everyone who likes fantasy in a medieval style time-setting with a lot of sword fighting and intrigue. There wasn't that much magic in this particular book, but I'm sure that will be rectified in the rest of the series. ( )
  Nemerith | Oct 30, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 302 (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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Murder, mayhem and magicâ?¦ Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die-but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose. But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster-chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned-has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed-me-must be offered the positi

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Book description
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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