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Fire Study (Study, Book 3) by Maria V. Snyder
Review by Barry Newton
Mira Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780778325345
Date: 01 March 2008 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Read an excerpt / Show Official Info /

Fire Study leaves the reader with a sense of whiplash at times; the action is so fast and furious that the plot can be obscured. Yelena is confirmed as a mage, but apprenticed to the person who hates and fears her most bitterly—to the point of scorching her as an initial lesson. Every time she should be settling in to learn her craft, she's obliged to slip away and save the world. Her inability to master the basics is frustrating, but the power she does grow into as a Soulfinder is awesome and humbling in its own right. She will need every ability at her disposal to deal with betrayal, exile, Deviian vermin, and searing personal loss.

There are at least three aspects to the study of fire in this novel. Firstly, Yelena is unable to perform the beginner's trick of creating flame. Secondly, she encounters a new class of enemy, the Fire Warper. And thirdly, the climax is, well, incandescent. Literally hot enough to melt glass. Opal the glassblower plays a major part in the outcome, and will be featured in the next story written in this universe.

A host of other strong characters people this tale: Valek, Yelena's lover and mentor, with a knack for showing up in time; Leif, the brother who finally sees her as family; Cahil the nemesis; Moon Man, the Sand Weaver who teaches with the clarity of a zen master; as well as Kiki and the bat.

According to the author, this story completes the cycle begun with Poison Study and Magic Study. One can only hope she changes her mind. The market can speak very persuasively. In the person of Yelena, poison taster, assassin, fighter, diplomat and mage, Ms. Snyder has rendered a character with plenty of room to grow. Yelena will be well worth revisiting somewhere down the line.

A Promethean effort; highly recommended.

Last: East of the Sun and West of Fort Smith / Next: Hell and Earth: A Novel of the Promethean Age

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