Book Review

by Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Fantasy, General Fantasy

RT Rating

Convicted of murder, Yelena believes that she's headed to the hangman's noose, but she's offered a chance for a
new life. She will live in the palace and have her every need provided for, at the cost of becoming the Commander of Ixia's new food taster. Given the alternative, Yelena agrees to risk death with every bite, and Valek, the Chief of Security, ensures her cooperation by feeding her a poison for which only he knows the antidote.

As she tries to find a way out
of this new dilemma, Yelena inadvertently becomes involved in
palace intrigue, as rebels and spies
plot to take over Ixia's military govern-ment. Yelena and Valek grow closer
as danger mounts and are thrown together in unexpected ways.

Snyder provides an intriguing
look at life behind the scenes of a
military coup. World-building is strong, with realistic details that provide more
than a generic pseudo-medieval fantasy setting. Supporting characters Valek
and the Commander are fascinating studies in power, control and hidden motives, while Yelena, in contrast, is unable to hide her growing affection
for those who were once her captors. While the plotting is at times transparent, colorful details and unique characters should keep readers turning the pages. (Oct., 350 pp., $13.99)

Reviewed By: Jen Talley Exum

Publisher: Luna

Published: October 2005

Reader Rating

4 Stars

Average Rating: 4 Stars
(1 ratings)

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Poison Study

Submitted by Robin in PA on March 6, 2013 - 10:19pm.

Set to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered the job of food taster for the Commander of Ixia. This is a dangerous job with a short life expectancy if she doesn't quickly identify the poison. But Yelena hopes she may eventually gain her freedom or find a way to escape from Ixia and into the neighboring Sitia. One person standing in the way of her freedom is Valek, her boss and the head of security at the palace. Valek keeps Yelena's life as a food taster unpredictable. When a conspiracy against the Commander comes to light, Valek asks for Yelena's help in keeping the Commander safe.

Well, this was certainly a unique story. The fantasy world the author built has a medieval feel to it, but in some ways it also feels very modern. Both Yelena and Valek are great characters I want to read more about. I didn't know this was the first book in a series until I got to the end of this story. I'll have to find out more about the next book. My rating: 4 Stars.