Magic Study: When dangling, watch your participles

book review Maria Snyder Magic StudyMagic Study by Maria V. Snyder

A brief overview of the plot of Magic Study is this: Yelena, the poison taster turned magician whom we met in Poison Study, leaves Ixia for Sitia, the country of her birth, to enter magical training and meet her long-lost family. Along the way, there are family tensions, new friends and enemies among the students and teachers at Yelena’s school, and sinister forces that may claim Yelena’s life, or that of one of her friends, if Yelena can’t thwart them. It’s a fast-paced and exciting plot, and I stand by my earlier assertion that Maria Snyder can tell an interesting story.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWhat isn’t so interesting anymore is Yelena. There were hints of Mary Sue in her character in Poison Study, but here she blossoms into full Sue-itude. Yelena is not just a magician, she has staggering powers that are almost unheard of. Then, after the umpteenth person has commented on Yelena’s nearly-unprecedented powers, it seems a little disingenuous when she responds to “You’re very powerful” with something along the lines of, “Who, me?”

Another issue I had with Magic Study has to do with grammar and editing. I don’t know if this issue existed in Poison Study and I missed it because I liked the story better, or whether the success of Poison Study meant the author was given less editing, but there are a lot of unintentionally funny dangling participles in this novel.

I will read the third book in the series (Fire Study), but will almost certainly not buy it in hardback.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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