Poison Study (Study #1)
By Maria V. Snyder
Originally Published March 1st, 2007
Single POV, First Person
Poison Study is a book I continue to return to at least once a year whenever I feel like I am in a rut, or can't seem to read anything other than romance. Maria V. Snyder has created a rich and colorful world full of magic and diverse characters far ahead of its time. If you've been around awhile, then you know YA fantasy pre-2010, really before 2015, can be iffy if read for the first time nowadays. Tropey or majorly lacking in cast. Not so in Poison Study, this series holds up and still impresses every time I read it.
While it is a Young Adult series, Snyder does not shy from mature themes such as abuse, rape, and very strict politics. The government within Yelena's 'kingdom', Ixia, closely resembles a Totalitarianism rule, the head honcho being the feared "Commander". When we first meet Yelena, our MC, we learn she has been in jail after murdering a very powerful man's son. She's next on the chopping block but is given a choice. Become the ruler's new food taster, or hang. The answer isn't obvious, being the Commander's food taster is dangerous and death is assured, probably full of pain from poison, so some people choose the rope. Yelena chooses to live a little longer and is trained by the Commander's most trusted assassin, advisor, and poison master, Valek.
But there are some who believe she should be dead after her crime and, what's more, a dark plot arises within Ixia. Magic is strictly outlawed by decree of the Commander, when Valek begins to suspect the neighboring magical kingdom of fueling a rebellion, Yelena and the dark assassin must team up to stop the plotting.
I truly love this series, and there are a lot of books set in this fantasy world. If you like anything High Fantasy with magic and amazingly developed worlds and characters, the Study series is for you.