Anyway, enough of my griping and on with the review.
Magic Study picks up very shortly after the end of Book 1. Yelena and her companions have journeyed to the land of Sitia, reuniting the stolen children with their parents. Yelena meets up with her own family - mother, father and brother (who unlike his parents is just not happy she's home), but this is an awkward reunion. She doesn't stay with them long before journeying on to the Magician's Keep where she must begin her training as a magician. Unfortunately it seems nothing in Yelena's life is fated to go smoothly. Once again, she needs to use her magical abilities to sort everything out and once again it's her own life that's on the line.
There's a lot going on in this story. Yelena's reunion with her family - the fact that her brother seems to despise her for some reason. Yelena enrolling in Magic School. A serial killer. A visit from the Ixian ambassador and her retinue. The exiled heir of Ixia turns up. So it's quite busy plotwise and Yelena is in the centre of it all. Which leads to the main reason I gave this one a C+.
I had a problem with this book and the name of that problem is Yelena. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the story because I did (though not as much as Poison Study). But somewhere in between Book 1 and Book 2, Yelena became a little too arrogant for me. When four master magicians don't know what to do but Yelena does and they're looking to her for help it annoyed me a little. Apart from this her character is still well drawn and you want to read about her and her adventures. It's just grating that she's always right.
I liked the fact that her family reunion wasn't a roaring success, that there is some distrust there - on both sides. And if I had a favourite new character from the book it would probably be Yelena's brother Leif, the first character who's reminded me of a flow diagram. (Flow Chart in Question) Honestly he seems to run his life according to this. I like the sibling relationship he and Yelena have towards the end of the book. You can tell that he isn't going to let her get away with anything and she needs someone saying to her "You're doing that wrong", even if she isn't. :)
There were plenty of other things I enjoyed about the story.
Yelena's time in the Magician's school. LOL - I'm a sucker for stuff like this, it's reading all those adventures set in boarding schools when I was young.
The visiting Ixian dignitaries because this means Valek, Janco and Ari are in town. Though Valek is not as present in this story as in Poison Study. Which makes sense and is realistic, this one really is more about Yelena, but it was great to have him turn up. And Maria V. Snyder maximizes the impact of his appearances.
Trouble love? Valek asked.I also liked the Ixian Ambassador. :)
I need your immunity to magic.
And it still isn't clear who it is safe to trust. It quickly becomes apparent that Sitia is just as dangerous a place, if not more so, than Ixia, but in different ways.
There were a couple of things that made me shake my head.
At one point Yelena has to hold a pill the size of a robin's egg in her mouth and not bite down onto it. (For an American Robin that's 2cm by 3cm, for a European Robin that's 2cm by 1.5cm). So I spend five minutes not reading and trying to puzzle out if this is possible.
Even when events spiral beyond her control, things still have to be done Yelena's way, because she knows best. It's a positive thing that she's so independent, but you can't help thinking at certain points that if she had just stopped and asked for help the outcome may have been resolved differently.
I think I've said before that middle books in trilogies can be tricky. So I am left wondering how fair it is to grade this book on its own, without knowing how the third book goes. I am heartened by reading other reviews that consider this the weakest of the three, as hopefully that means Fire Study is a return to form. Once I've read Fire Study I'll grade the trilogy as a whole. Yes, I will be getting Fire Study but I don't have the desperate urge to immediately get it, that I did for Magic Study.