by Maria V Snyder Print book : Fiction
Young Magician Overwhelmed   (2008-10-04)
Snyder, Maria V.. ~ Fire Study ~ MIRA, 2008 ~ 441 pages ~ adults, some teens.
"'That's pathetic, Yelena,' Dax complained. 'An all-powerful Soulfinder who isn't all powerful.'"
Fire Study is the third in a series of novels that began with Poison Study followed by Magic Study.
Yelena, as a Soulfinder, is able to capture and release souls so that they can go to their rightful place. However, she doesn't understand magic, especially what she should do, when, and why. Self-doubt, stubbornness, and a tendency to act before she considers the consequences create a variety of problems.
When she learns that her homeland is under attack, Yelena leaves her magical training in Sitia under a cloud [there is some question if she is a soulfinder or a soulstealer as is her powerful enemy Ferde of the Daviian Clan].
As Yelena rushes home, she finds herself with a small number of companions, including her Soulweaver Moon Man. A variety of characters from the earlier volumes appear in various roles. The author does a good job of inserting the back story here and there so that one who did not read the earlier volumes has a reasonable notion of what has happened. However, this does slow the story some.
The Daviian Clan, using blood magic, to strengthen its Warper magicians, has conquered neighboring tribes and now threatens both of the settled lands where Yelena lives. In particular, the Daviian's wish to capture Yelena and use her heart blood to make themselves even stronger.
Yelena can be heroic and strong but she is also stubborn, foolish, and weak. Her lack of inner strength in finding her way frustrated this reader and made him much less sympathetic to her very real challenges.
World-building is satisfactory, but not notable. The plot has some interesting surprises but the primary focus is what she can do to save herself from the all-powerful fire wizard. The telepathic communication with the horses is a nice touch and allows her horse to be a character of note. Interactions with her lover Valek and her tutor Moon Man might have received more attention. Although this is labeled as romance -- fantasy, there is little romance here.
Poison Study was quite a success with the tale of Yalena as a food taster. Fire Study should be added to collections where the first two volumes are held and have been popular. Cover art shows Yalena's feet and mid body looking out from a cave. While similar to the cover art on the earlier volumes, it lacks appeal. Print is large and easily read with good white space.
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