Fire Study is the final book in the Study trilogy which follows Yelena Zaltana, a prisoner turned food-taster in Ixia, then magic student and ambassador in Sitia.
I reviewed Magic Study (the second book) last month here – vox | livejournal . Poison Study is the first book.
When I read Magic Study I was comparing it to Poison Study (which I loved), and noticing the differences in the books. They felt like very different reads despite being in the same series. Besides a different "feel" they are also not set in the same location and we see an almost completely new cast of characters. Magic Study moves away from the people Yelena knew in Ixia. Instead we start to learn about Yelena's family and Sitia and about Yelena's problems with coming back home where she isn't exactly welcomed or trusted.
In comparison, Fire Study fits very well with Magic Study. The plot of Magic Study seems written with Fire Study in mind, so there are strings left in Magic Study that directly relate to much of what goes on in Fire Study. These two books have the same feel – mostly set in Sita, with a lot of Yelena's rushing into things and hoping things will work out. Her modus operandi. We have the same villians in Fire Study as with Magic Study, and the her brother Leif along for the ride in both books. The story continues where Magic Study left off with Yelena trying to pursue the villians, and she travels throughout Sitia to do so. In the meantime she is also trying to understand her magic and what it means because she's discovered that she's a Soulfinder – which isn't taken well by some people.
The main thing in Fire Study is Yelena finally finding her place in the world. I think that's probably why this time we see more Ixians – the Commander makes a couple of appearances, Valek is around a bit more, and so are Ari and Janco. The point seems to be so the reader sees Yelena someone who bridges both Sitia and Ixia. Before I read this I saw reviews that it was worth the read also to see what it meant for Yelena to be a Soulfinder - her real role gets revealed. This is true, though I sort of figured out the point a long time ago and was a bit surprised that it wasn't obvious to many people. Maybe I've just seen a lot of shinigami anime. Anyway, here too Yelena finds her place.
Good bits and nits:
- I liked all the parts where Valek was around. I think the chemistry between the two is well written, and you feel that despite the long-distance relationship, they still feel strongly about each other.
- As I said above, It did feel more cohesive with Magic Study.
- I've commented on this in other reviews: usually Synder's villian's aren't black and white, we see why they are motivated to do what they do and they kind of make sense in a twisted way.
- There was a complete wild goose chase in half of this book. It seemed like a lot of effort was put into getting Yelena to go off somewhere running around in Sitia, but why? I wasn't completely sure. Maybe it was the villians' diabolical plan, muhahahaha? but still rather… well, it's strange and I'm confused about it.
- I didn't buy into the parts of the book where everyone was angry at Yelena. The reasons were silly, and then I just saw that everyone is annoyed at her, but I didn't see her as being particularly worthy of all the snits everyone was in. The only argument I bought was the one with Valek. And when these issues got resolved it was really quickly without much discussion.
- So many villians. Making things too complicated – as in I"'m not sure I believe that there could be so many villians all up in here! Why, another one! Where'd you come from!". I think because of this, the villians started becoming more caricature-ish than in past books.
Overall: worth reading to finish the series. I'd say a decent read and nice to see how the people in Poison Study turned out. However Poison Study remains my favorite book in the series by far. Loved that book when I first read it, probably should reread it.
Did you know there is a Study livejournal community? I did not until today.
Also cool thing – Maria Snyder has short stories online to read: Assassin Study (starring Valek), and Power Study (with Janco and Ari).