WARNING: If you haven't read Poison Study yet, don't read on...in fact, why are you still sitting there reading this? You should be out buying or borrowing it to catch up!
Goodreads Summary: "You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster...
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better...
Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training—especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies..."
I'm always nervous going into the second book of a series, particularly if its a trilogy, because there always seems to be a serious slump in the second book. And I don't mean that the book gets serious, I just mean that it has the worst slump ever. It seems to drag and be nothing like what you remembered from the first; if anything it comes across as something to set up the events of the third book. A placeholder of sorts. I had even read a few reviews where readers were disappointed in this particular text so I had good reason to be worried going in.
Luckily Magic Study came through for me and I didn't see any signs of the dreaded second book slump, as far as I was concerned it was just as amazing as the first book.
Personally, one of my favorite things about this trilogy would have to be the characters. I don't want to give away too much here about who you'll meet, who you'll get to see again, and such because that's part of the mystery and magic of the novel but I did enjoy the cast. Of course you get Yelena back as our heroine extraordinaire. And all the things that made you fall in love with her the first time around are still there, she's still the same woman, just grown a bit from her experiences and she still yet has more room to grow. I feel like she's a really dynamic character in this way, she always has room for improvement and she never comes across as perfect. She has flaws and makes mistakes, and they aren't the same ones over and over again.
Maria V. Snyder has an amazing talent for world building. She has such detailed cultures and worlds within her texts and has the knack of introducing you to all of these things without any information dumps; in fact, until I was going to write this review I hadn't realized how much I had learned and just how detailed they were! It was just part of the story. That, my friends, is true talent. I hope someday I can replicate that in my own fantasy novels.
In addition to her mad world-building skills she also has that whole magic thing down. Reading the novel you never feel as if the magic is overdone, as if its just there for the convenience of the characters, its a real thing. There are consequences to using it just as there are benefits and both have to be weighed. Also, you're always learning about the magic along with the characters. Its always developing, its almost as if its a live thing. And one of my favorite parts? Along with the magic "you're" being taught, you also learn the local folklore about the magicians. Just more of that awesome world-building I guess.
And the best part? I didn't make the same mistake I did with my read of Poison Study, this time around I was prepared for the awesomeness and actually have the third book on hand! :D