One of the greatest things about my Kindle is the ability to wirelessly browse Amazon’s store, decide I want to read a book, purchase and download it, and begin reading immediately. This was the case with Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder.
Ms. Synder, a former meteorologist, became a career author in 1995 when this, her first book, was published. She’s a self-described “Pantser,” or someone who writes from the seat of her pants. Her novels are written from start to finish with her plot twists and surprises developing for her as well as her readers on-the-fly. It’s a technique that some authors can follow to excellent results, while others flail about and fall on their face. Luckily for Ms. Snyder, she is in the former tags.
The main character of the story, Yelena, begins the book locked in a dungeon awaiting her execution for the murder of her former lord when she is offered a choice, become the new food-taster for the Commander or face the noose. Yelena makes the obvious choice and all manner of subterfuge, assassination attempts, magic, swordplay, and betrayals commence. The book picks up your attention quickly–a rarity these days in the fantasy world–and doesn’t let go until the final page. Ms. Snyder’s ability to weave complex character motivations and give a sense of a living, breathing person are her greatest attributes. Her plots, while simple, are carried on by the vibrance of the characters and the ever-developing world around them.
After laying down this first book in her “Study” series, I can say with some confidence that I’ll be reading the sequel very soon. For those of you looking for a quick fantasy book filled with adventure, danger, magic, and of course poisons, this book will fit the bill nicely. I recommend reading it with a cup of hot tea you made yourself, just to be safe.