Magic Study (Study #2)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: Luna Books, 392 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2006 (first published September 26, 2006)
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better....
Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training—especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies.
I'm really enjoying reading this series and the second book does not suffer from the sophomore slump at all. It's more like Harry Potter in the sense that the adventures of Yelena just continue, rather than having one overarching story, like a lot of trilogies do.
This book is focused on Yelena learning about her magic (what she can do and how to control it) and being back in her homeland of Sitia. She's trying to figure out where she belongs. She meets her family. Her brother Leif is just awful, by the way. I really disliked him, and I don't think my feelings changed by the end of the book. I'm curious to see if he is going to play a role in the third book at all and if he gets better. It's explained why he's so hostile, but I didn't really get it.
There's also a serial killer on the loose, and political intrigue (Sitia versus Ixia).
Valek is not in this book much at all, which I expected, but I still wanted more of him. He appears about 3/4 of the way in. He's definitely an interesting character. He has his loyalties to the Commander, and Yelena seems to think that if the Commander ordered him to kill her, he would, but I'm not so sure. And it's interesting that Yelena doesn't seem to care. What I like about their relationship is how equal it is. He respects her and her strength and knows she can handle herself. It's not all about him saving her (although he does help out). She's definitely not a damsel-in-distress. No whininess at all, which is refreshing.
Cahil. Potential love interest? Is there the dreaded love triangle? I can't say without giving away spoilers. But I will say that the way he acts in the end was really unexpected, especially once he finds out the truth.
There are some great new characters and you also get to see some old ones as well (Ari and Janco, who I just love). Great series!