Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories. Vivid recollections waited to ambush me whenever my mind wandered.
–Maria V Snyder - Poison Study - c.2005 - pg1
ISBN: 077830163XGroup read with FantasyFavorites
See also: anidori-isilee ; Karissa’s Reviews ; Shantyrant
The monarchy of Ixia has recently been overthrown by Commander Ambrose and is now ruled by the Code of Behaviour. Punishments are absolute; there is no leeway or excuse that will save you if you break the rules, whether you simply didn’t wear the correct uniform or killed someone. So Yelena expects nothing but a hanging after she killed the son of a high ranking General. But she is offered a slight chance when she is given the choice of either accepting her hanging or becoming the food-taster for the Commander. She accepts the position, and so is poisoned to ensure her loyalty, she’ll need access to the antidote that only Valek, the Commander’s second-in-command can provide.
This is a very enjoyable, and quick, read. Yelena is believable and her reactions and choices are quite understandable, and even sensible on occasion. Something that we don’t always get in heroes and heroines :) but some of the secondary characters seem a bit sketchy. I suppose that is always the way with minor characters, you get a very brief look at them, but they aren’t vital so why bother creating three dimensional characters. They are all still engaging, don’t get me wrong, it is just that they do feel a little clichéd.
And Yelena uses a lot of similes in her descriptions. Which in one way helps to see how she sees others, but then again, it is a little distracting.
All in all however it is a good solid bit of entertainment. Yelena is a very interesting character, and the world Snyder creates is too, although I’m not sure how believable the totalitarian regime really is. Still, when reading the story there is no great need to invest heavily in the world-building, this story is more about the characters.