Sweet Trouble

Rants, raves, book reviews and one girl's thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Poison Study by Maria Snyder

After a drought of good fantasy novels I've been lucky enough to come across two truly exquisite books in the same week. The first was Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon, about which I've already spoken of here. It was one of a slew of books I purchased to occupy my time as I held vigil in the ICU of a hospital last week during my grandfather's last days. Among the other purchases were a Janet Evanovich novel, a Meg Cabot book and Maria Snyder's Poison Study.

Poison Study was a book that I'd had my eye on for awhile, but had not had an opportunity to get around to. I almost didn't buy the one copy at the book store I was visiting near the hospital but the nice folks at Borders kept asking me if I was finding everything. I confessed to being dismayed that the one book I really wanted had a torn cover. They promptly gave me a coupon for said book and I happily bought it at a 30% discount. Unfortunately, things progressed in such a way that I never got around to reading it last week.

Today I idly cracked it open as I ate my lunch. Within minutes I was hooked. I read through lunch, and had trouble putting it down for a post-work out shower. My son arrived home from a play date with his grandparents and as soon as he fell asleep I scooped the book up and settled in. I devoured the novel over the course of my son's nap, finishing it just as he began to wake.

This is, perhaps, too much personal information. I just want to illustrate what a very good story Ms. Snyder has created! In it's basic premise, Poison Study might be likened to the popular tale La Femme Nikita. However the world of Ixia is a refreshingly new fantasy realm. In the aftermath of a near bloodless coupe a country comes to terms with changing from a monarchy to a military government. Most citizens agree that the new government is superior; Graft and corruption have been removed from their infrastructure and clearly defined laws inform all of the exact punishment for every crime. Their are no deviations.

For all of the good it has brought the country, Yelena, our heroine, illustrates the unfairness of such a system. She is condemned to die for committing murder, with no thought to extenuating circumstances. Offered a last minute choice of becoming the realm's Commander's food taster she must choose between a quick death now and a potentially painful, drawn out one some place down the road. Yelena, as she states, is no fool and thus the story begins. I can not say much more, for fear of spoiling some of the wonderful twists and turns crafted so gracefully by this first time novelist. However, I can say that Snyder's next book is slated for publication this fall, and I will look forward to it gleefully. You will too.


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