Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “poison study”

Katie’s #CBR4 Review #51: Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Title: Poison Study
Author: Maria V Snyder
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: Complex but easy-to-follow plots, believable characters, and an impressive protagonist – very well done!

This book has so many exciting twists and turns, that I’m checking the standard description to make sure I don’t give anything away! We start when Yelena, about to be executed for murder, is instead offered the position of royal food taster. The catch is that she’s intentionally fed a poison that will kill her unless she shows up every day for the antidote. Although to an extent this attaches her loyalty to the king, Yelena is put into a variety of situations where she has to decide where her loyalty truly lies. And just for an extra challenge, Yelena starts to develop magical powers, the possession of which is punishable by death.

Read more on Doing Dewey.

 

Malin’s #CBR4 Review #38: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Having awaited execution in a prison cell for nine months for killing a general’s son, Yelena is given a reprieve when she is offered the position of the Commander of Ixia, Ambrose’s new food taster (the last one having died in the line of duty). Ixia used to be ruled by a corrupt king, most people agree that the strictly ordered society imposed by the Commander is better. Of course, having gained power through a military coup, the Commander has his enemies. That’s where the food taster comes in.

Valek, the Commander’s chief of security (and spy master) trains Yelena, and ensures that she can’t run away by feeding her Butterfly Dust, a poison that will kill her painfully within 24 hours, if she’s not given the antidote daily. She’s given nice rooms in the palace, she slowly starts regaining strength and confidence, and even slowly begins to make friends. She can never relax, though, as the general wants revenge for his only son (she had a very good reason for killing him), and if she’s lucky enough to escape his murder attempts, she might die if someone tries to poison the Commander.

While being trained by Valek, first to detect any number of poisons, and later to defend herself so she’s not helpless against the occasional thug sent by General Brazell, she finds herself reluctantly growing closer to the man responsible for her continued captivity.  As rebel factions plot to overthrow the Commander’s rule, and General Brazell steps up his revenge plans, how can Yelena survive without allies?

This is actually the second time I’m reading Poison Study and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the book stands up well to re-reading. Snyder has created a very interesting society and a slew of great characters in this book, and Yelena is a very engaging and likable heroine. While you find out at the start of the book that she’s in prison for killing a man, it’s slowly revealed why she was forced to take such action, and it’s fascinating to see her use her determination to prove Valek and all the various palace officials wrong in their initial opinions of her.

There’s also a minor romantic subplot, as Yelena is more and more drawn to Valek, even though he holds the power of life and death over her, and is, in some respects, her captor. Yet it’s clear that he’s risen to his position of trust and power with the Commander through skill and careful observation, and he can quickly tell that there is more to the story of Yelena’s murderous tendencies than the irate General Brazell wants him to think. He keeps encouraging Yelena to challenge herself and makes sure she’s trained in self defence and given added responsibilities around the palace, even though she’s a self-confessed murderer.

The book is just as good as I remembered it being, and can be recommended. The two sequels are unfortunately not quite as gripping, with a tendency by Snyder to introduce to many supporting characters rather than focusing on the ones introduced in this book. Still, it’s not a bad fantasy series, and the strong characterisation of Yelena and Valek make up for a lot.

Originally posted on my blog – Malin’s Blog of Books and cross-posted with Goodreads.

Alexis’s #CBR4 Review #13: Poison Study, Maria Snyder

Poison Study reviewYelena has been convicted of murder is literally dragged from her own death-by-fire and offered an alternative to a fiery end – a lifetime position as the Commander’s food-taster/poison checker. She chooses poison tasting and is immediately given some starter poison to work with. She’ll need to turn up for work each day to receive her daily dose of antidote. The previous food-taster lasted about 6 months before succumbing to poison so she won’t have long to dodge the wrath of General Brazell, the father of the person she killed.

Yep, this is a page turner.

Valek, the Commander’s right-hand-man, teaches her to identify poison (ideally by not eating it) and the two form a begrudging friendship. Yelena is smart and driven, not merely content to wait for her poisonous doom or General Brazell to end her days. She takes every opportunity to research a permanent antidote to her current poison problem. And she plots her escape by training with a handful of the Commander’s elite troops. There are also hints that Yelena may have hidden talents beyond her ability to sniff out well-hidden food additives.

This is the first book in what will likely turn out to be a trilogy (don’t they all?) by a first-time author. It starts strong and I felt the whole poisoned poison-taster angle was refreshingly original. Her relationship with Valek is unique and engaging – he poisons her, saves her repeatedly, cares for her, but clearly would have no issue with slitting her throat if the need arose. It looses some of it’s originality in the second half as it starts to track more closely to a traditional fantasy tropes – group of friends with unique powers battling evil. But it’s still a strong and intriguing start.

3.5 stars

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