I read Magic Study and Fire Study consecutively, and as they are two books in the same trilogy (following Poison Study, which I reviewed here), I thought I'd just review them together. And as they are sequels in a fantasy trilogy, it will be quite difficult to do plot summaries, so I'll just do a general one for both.
At the end of Poison Study, Yelena leaves Ixia to go south to Sitia to learn more about her inner abilities. She meets many people along the way and within the city- some take to her instantly, but others view her with grave distrust. She is a foreigner and relations between Ixia and its neighbors are strained. As Yelena learns about her own abilities, she becomes frightened of her own powers, particularly when other people associate her with the evil that seems to be infiltrating the world. She must fight back against the corruption and learn to understand her own powers and feelings before she can help those around her battle the dark forces that seem to surround them.
I put off reading these books for several months after reading the first one. This isn't unusual for me, to be fair; it takes me years to get through some series in this manner. But for this particular series, I just had a very strong feeling that the second and third books would not stand up to the first for me. And, more importantly, that Yelena would start to get on my nerves, as so many heroines inevitably do.
However, I arbitrarily set a rule for myself that I can only start a new fantasy series after finishing one of those that I am in the middle of. And, as I really, really want to sink my teeth into a new epic world, I picked these books up. They read very quickly, and I finished both in just a few days. But, as expected, they just didn't hold the magic of the first book for me.
Yelena did annoy me, but so many women in fantasy do. She just seemed so very perfect and incapable of making mistakes. And she used her magic all the time. For the smallest things. If she was having a conversation with someone and that person didn't trust her, then she'd conveniently go into his mind and change it. Not only is this really manipulative, but it also means that she never really had to deal with situations in which she would actually have to converse with people who were skeptical of her actions.
Also, and this is completely off-subject, the animals annoyed me in these books. First of all, there is a horse named Kiki. As if that weren't bad enough, Kiki also speaks in broken English. I am not sure why, if an author decides that animals can communicate wit humans, they can't also make the leap to have these animals speak in sentences. So many authors do this! I don't understand!
But I digress. I did enjoy reading these books, and I am glad I finished this series, but for some reason I just didn't feel quite as engaged here as I did previously. I did appreciate Yelena's friendships with Ari and Janko (of "Characters I would marry" fame) are still refreshingly without drama or unnecessary angst, but are instead filled with witty banter. Much appreciated!
But maybe that's what was missing for me. In Poison Study, Yelena and her friends spent most of the time in one place, and so we really got to know the characters well through their dialogue and interactions. In both Magic Study and Poison Study, it seemed like every five minutes, Yelena was flying from one end of a continent to another, giving no real thought to whether this was an efficient use of her time. It got really tiring to read about her gallivanting all over the country all the time (after which she was either hit in the head and passed out or was incapacitated in some other manner), and I feel like if at least some of that would have been left out, the stories would have been leaner and more interesting to read. Instead, they sometimes came off as repetitive and I admit to skimming through parts of both.
Honestly, I think these books just disappointed me because I so enjoyed the first book. And these didn't stack up or hold their weight, in my opinion.