I was a bit hesitant to read this series after the Storm Glass books. I liked them - but they got very predictable. These were different! I really liked the characters and the story line was much more intriguing. it may have also helped that this series actually happened before the story glass books - I read them out of order.
1 - Poison Study
2 - Magic Study
3 - Fire Study
The books follow Yelena. Her story begins as she is taken from the dungeons of Ixia to be executed for murdering her deranged orphanage master. In Ixia murder is never justified. As that moment she is given a choice to become the Commander's food taster - the one who detects if poison exists. She herself will injest a specific poison each day and recieve the antidote the next...this keeps her alive and from escaping.
This begins the saga to find out who Yelana really is...in the first book she helps to defeat a magician who has bewitched the Commander, falls in love with her Ixian keeper, Valek, and discovers that she had actually been kidnapped all those years ago. Yelana is also almost killed by a magician who is sent from the souther land of Sitia to investigate spikes of magic. As Yelana slowly understands that she has unique magic abilities she seeks out the same magician, Irys to help her.
Magic Study begins with the homecoming to her long lost parents and the reuniting with her older brother, Leif. The guilt of watching his younger sister kidnapped has warped his life almost to the point of no return. And her return did not help that. Together they travel to the Magician's Keep in Sitia for Yelena to be trained in magic. Yelana has needed to exist on her own all those years in Ixia and has a terrible time trying to follow the protocol and rules of the Master Magicians - especially Roze Featherstone the First Magician. Of course there are problems. But the biggest problem is a nasty magician named Ferde, who has been kidnapping and killing young girls to gain their magical abilities. Yelana must depend on those around her to help her defeat Ferde.
The final book, Fire Study, picks up the tale as Ferde is freed from the dungeons and takes off for the unknown Daviian Plains to rendevous with a group of disgruntled, power hungry young magicians who seek the dark power of Blood Magic to boost their ablitites. This magic requires innocent blood to be sacrificed. Yelena, Leif and a group of their friends seek to defeat this powerful band. In the quest Yelana discovers her true magical gift of Soulseeker. And faces a horrible Fire Warper - the soul who controls the underworld.
So that is the very bare bones of these books. But, that doesn't give you much of an impression of what is really in these tales.
The focus on friendship and the unexpected bonds that develop between unlikely people -even enemies. Through friendship souls are healed and destroyed. And through friendship characters discover what their potential really is - potential for good and evil.
The books also focus on magic. Magic is not the hocus pocus - say a spell and it works kind. Rather the kind that exists deep inside a person. Each person must connect with the magic source - the power blanket that wraps around the entire world. To make magic work you grab a thin strand of this power and then apply your own special gifts to it...sort of like electricity being used by different appliances. I like that idea!
And of course there is love
...family love that shapes who a person is - across miles and time.
...romantic love that takes you by surprise and reshapes you into something new and unexpected
...clan love - the loyalty that forces you to make decisions for a group, not for your self.
These are really great books - fast reads with interesting and unexpected turns!