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Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Magic Study picks up right where Poison Study leaves off. Yelena is on her way south to Sitia on a journey to learn how to control her magic, find her family, and try not to run screaming back to Ixia when, having been in country for only a few days, several rather largish men want to kill her. And one of them turns out to be her brother. Not much love lost between these long lost siblings.

Yelena manages to reach the Citadel alive and begin training with the governing council of mages there. But before long she's neck deep unraveling a plot to kill the Commander and recapture the throne of Ixia. Add to that a rogue mage who is systematically kidnapping and murdering young women across the country, stealing their souls to feed his power. At this point, Yelena and I are both thinking it would be just super to have Valek at her back once more. Where's a deadly assassin when you need him? Fortunately, Yelena's growing abilities come into play. Drawing on her own experiences as Reyad's captive, she is able to draw two of the young women back from the brink of death. Just when she thinks she's gotten her footing in Sitia, a delegation from Ixia comes to the capital. The Ixian entourage includes her old friends and combat trainers Ari and Janco as well as one or two other surprise visitors.

Though not quite as good as Poison Study, I enjoyed this second volume of the trilogy. It was nice to see Yelena holding her own, trusting her instincts, and using the training her friends had given her. I like how she continues to force her way right to the heart of the matter, doing what needs to be done no matter what high-ranking official tells her not to. And I liked how Ms. Snyder maintains Yelena and Valek's relationship, while still acknowledging the complications they face. They both thrive balancing on the knife-edge between life and death. Valek is loyal to the Commander above all. And Yelena won't give up an inch of the freedom she's earned. I'm anxious to read Fire Study which comes out in exactly two weeks.

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