At the start of Magic Study, Yelena is taken to meet her family in Sitia, where magic is still valued, and she can be guided to develop her potential. But meeting her family isn't all she imagined it to be; Yelena struggles to feel a connection with the unfamiliar lifestyle of her parents and her brother is outwardly resentful and hostile. Even though her life in Ixia was fraught with danger, she starts to miss the comfort of a structured and ordered society, in which all of the rules are clear. When she journeys to the citadel to be taught magic, her feelings of disconnection grow. To make matters worse, a rogue magician starts capturing and torturing young women with magic skill, and Yelena is drawn into the attempt to stop him.
Ultimately, I didn't enjoy Magic Study, especially compared to Poison Study. The main character, Yelena, had seemed to become a completely different person. In Poison Study she was somewhat headstrong and reckless, but her actions were always thought through. In Magic Study, she seems to delight in blundering from one horrible situation to another, sometimes on purpose, never thinking about what she is doing. Most of the book is taken up with her either moping around missing Ixia (where they want to kill her!) or recklessly plunging head-first into a dangerous situation despite her being warned against doing so by every single responsible person in the novel, including a talking horse! There's a lot of her being kidnapped and then miraculously using her magic to escape, which felt convenient and like lazy plotting. I was also uncomfortable with the way that rape and rape threats were used in the novel.
Unforutunately, Yelena wasn't the only character who had become a completely different person. Valek, her love interest from the first novel, and the master of spies in Ixia, is now basically reduced to being a love-sick puppy. In the first novel, he is morally ambiguous, cold and calculating, but in Magic Study, all this has gone and it seems like the only thing he cares about is Yelena, which is completely out of character. I found this frustrating and annoying, as why go to all the trouble of developing a more complicated relationship if you are only going to simplify it in this way in the sequel?
As you can tell, I wasn't a fan of Magic Study. I will say that it was easy to read and contained some interesting action sequences, but this wasn't enough to redeem it for me. I definitely won't be continuing on with the trilogy.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 2006
Score: 2 out of 5