Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
published by Mira/HQN in March 2008 (Tradesize paperback)
Yelena's new role as Soulfinder has made the Sitian Council uneasy. Worried that her new powers will corrupt her, the Council debates her fate. Yelena, though is trying to keep Sitia and Ixia from going to war. In the middle of political wrangling, Yelena receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by Ferde, the Soulstealer who murdered eleven girls and has escaped from prison with Cahil Ixia’s help. Cahil believes if he joins with the new Daviian Clan, he will have enough support to regain the Ixian throne. Testing the limit of her skills, Yelena becomes embroiled in the desperate fight to stop Ferde and the Daviian Clan from siphoning enough power to unleash a Fire Warper on the world. That would be worst than war between the northern and southern lands. Especially since, of all the powers Yelena possesses, she couldn't set fire to a candle wick if her life depended on it. And there is more at stake than just her life.
Series: Study trilogy, Book #3
Nath: So now, onto the review. What did you think of the book, Jennie?
Jennie: I really enjoyed Fire Study, though I was a little disappointed compared to how much I loved the first two in the series.
Nath: I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one feeling that way. I think that Fire Study was a good book, but it did fall short a bit compared to Poison Study and Magic Study. However, I think that being disappointed was a bit inevitable. I mean, we had more than a year and a half to build up the hype and anticipation for this book.
Jennie: Fire Study picks up right where Magic Study ends, and Snyder does not spend much time reminding us what has happened previously. And since I read Magic Study when it first came out (17 long months ago), I spent at least the first half of Fire Study feeling a bit lost as I tried to remember everything that was going on. I definitely recommend this series to be read all together, in order.
Nath: Personally, I don’t have a problem with that particular aspect. I mean, after all, it’s no fault of Ms Snyder if the publishing of her book was pushed back. I think that Ms Snyder put back enough background from the previous books. Too much and she wouldn’t have time to expand on the story.
Jennie: I guess that's true—I think my problem was that I couldn't remember what her being a Soulfinder was all about, which is pretty integral to the plot. By the time I was really into the book, though, I liked it for the same reasons I liked the first two: the great action and thoughtful world-building.
Nath: I agree. I have to say that the action and the world-building are really Ms Snyder forte.
Jennie: Yelena is really strong, but not invincible -- she spends a lot of time in FS doubting herself and her abilities, wondering if she too could be seduced by power and be tempted into using her magic for selfish reasons. We learn what Yelena's powers as a Soulfinder are, and why some dead people go to the shadow world, the fire, or the sky. Sort of like Heaven and Hell, but a little more interesting. I liked it.
Nath: See, that’s what annoyed me a little. Yelena doubting herself and in turn, pushing Valek away. I mean, didn’t we go through this (the doubting and fear of her magic) in Magic Study? I mean, sure, the lure is bigger and stronger in this book, as Yelena understands her powers better… but after all, if she was going to be tempted by magic, it would already have happened in my opinion. I thought all her confusion about her magic took too much of the book.
Jennie: See, I can't remember Magic Study so well (maybe I should have reread it before this one!), so maybe the doubting herself did happen there too.
***SPOILER**** highlight to read I will say that Yelena's intention to martyr herself at the end drove me nuts—because you know she's going to be able to find a way out of the problem but she refuses to hope for it.
***END OF SPOILER***
My other complaint is that Moon Man annoyed the hell out of me. He annoys Yelena too (he is her very mystical Story Weaver, whose job it is to guide her magical journey, though he will only give her advice in riddles), but I sort of cringed every time he came on the scene. I understand the importance of Yelena discovering her magical abilities on her own, but I didn't really see the point of him as a character. Besides to annoy me.
Nath: LOL, he didn’t annoy me as much. True, he’s playing a much bigger role in the book and I was surprised at how much presence he was given. I thought he was a good anchor till Yelena and him got into an argument and there was this sort of distance between them. That’s what bothered me… the conflict. So much is happening in this book already, you don’t need more conflict between the characters… but I think that he was kind of necessary. Without him, Yelena would have probably died a couple of times ^_^;
Let me add a few more complaints. Valek. Nope, I wasn’t annoyed with him. I simply wished there’ve been more of him. He does appear quite late in the book, but I have to admit that the author handled his presence quite well… Like, she didn’t overdo it with his character, but I still wished we’d had more of him. He was great and I just love him to pieces… and strangely enough, he does provide some comedic relief. LOL, like that scene where he appears at the inn… too funny. Another thing is his immunity to magic… is it magic itself?
Jennie: Agree, could have had more Valek. Love Valek. :D And Yelena does hypothesize at the very end of the book about why Valek is immune to magic. I don't have the book with me, or I'd look it up. But I think it's the last conversation they have in the book.
Nath: Yes, the author does allude to it. However, I’d like a straight answer instead of hypothesis :P Another complaint… Not enough of Janco and Ari. They were definitively under-used in this book. Also, I thought that Ms Snyder was setting up for some interesting pairing: Janco & Irys, Ari & Marreen or the Zitora Cowan, the 4th Magician. However, not a mention in this 3rd book. Of course, they were quite busy, but still.
Finally, last complaint… the ending was left a bit too open for me. We have Yelena and Valek’s conclusion, but what about everyone else? I guess Ms Snyder will tie it all up for us in her next book. At least, I hope.
Now, onto what I liked about this book besides the world-building and action. Leif and Yelena’s relationship. Weren’t they sweet, LOL? Their relation has grown so much since the last book, I was glad… like real brother and sister. I really enjoyed seeing them together.
Jennie: They do act just like a real brother and sister! Loving and fighting at the same time. :)
Nath: Also, the plot. I think the plot was very good in this one, excellent and well-thought. I mean, I never saw it coming and I don’t know if many did. As for the villain, I can’t believe how disillusioned s/he was. I mean, did s/he really think s/he was different? That her/his purposes were righteous. Please. Anyway, I think it was a strong plot and it did give a nice final touch to the trilogy.
Jennie: Yes, I really liked the way the story finished up. Very exciting. I was surprised by the villain too. Though afterwards I realized that it made perfect sense.
Do you think there are going to be more Yelena books? There were a couple of hanging plotlines at the end that seemed to leave things open for further sequels. Okay, I've just been to Snyder's website and she has announced a book about Opal, the glassmaker introduced in this book. I'm glad -- I like the world, but I think I'm ready for a new narrator.
Here's the link for the info on the next book: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books/
Nath: You were too quick for me. So it’s official? Next narrator will be Opal? I did think it was going to be her, given the clues… Character introduced in Magic Study and the title, Storm Glass. I hope that we’ll see a bit of Yelena and Valek in the next book, just to tie up everything. I’m happy that Ms Snyder is continuing this series. I mean, it’d be a waste to discard this great world… also, I think she left too much openings… such as Cahil.
Jennie: There's sure to be more story on Cahil. Also lots of possibilities with the Commander that could be really interesting.
Nath: I don’t want Cahil ^_^;
Jennie: I think Fire Study gets a 7 from me. Good read. :)
Nath: Hmmm, I’m torn. I’m giving it a B+, although disappointing compared to the first two books, Fire Study is still very good.