Title: Shadow Study
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: Chronicles of Ixia, #4
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release Date: March 12th 2015
Once, only her own life hung in the balance…
When Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. She survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia.
Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek. Suddenly, though, dissent is rising. And Valek’s job – and his life – are in danger.
As Yelena tries to uncover her enemies, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. And now she must find a way to keep not only herself but all that she holds dear alive.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
I absolutely adored the original Chronicles of Ixia series. My copy of Poison Study is practically falling apart I’ve read it so many times now; and while I loved Opal’s story in the Glass trilogy, discovering Maria V. Snyder was writing another trilogy about Yelena and Valek was brilliant news. Shadow Study is the start of a whole new series and I would definitely recommend reading the original trilogy, the Glass series, and the shorts to fully understand all the nuances of plot in this new book.
Yelena finally has a break from her role as Liaison between Sitia and Ixia and is looking forwards to spending some time with Valek away from all the issues Sitia and Ixia throw at them both. However Yelena’s life is never that simple. On her way to the cabin she is shot by an assassin and poisoned with an unknown substances; the following morning her magic is gone.
Despite being a formidable opponent with her bo Yelena has come to rely heavily on her Soulfinder ability as well. Without it she is scared and lost, she believes the poison is what’s blocked her magic and her first step is to discover what’s happened to her. With a plan in mind she travels back to the Magicians Keep where she hopes to find answers. She employs the help of Fisk, her brother Leif and the master magicians but she soon discovers even more terrifying news; Ben Moon has escaped from prison.
Yelena is not going to lie down and let the Magician’s Council protect her by locking or hiding her away. With a trail of assassins tracing her down, one of whom nearly killed her once before, she started trying to find Ben Moon all the while searching for answers among those she trusts about where her magic has gone.
Meanwhile after Valek was called back to Ixia, cutting his and Yelena’s vacation short, he finds himself dealing with an upstart assassin after his job. When he discovers the news about Ben Moon’s escape his is forbidden from telling Yelena what he knows and is instead ordered to root out the smugglers who are finding new ways in and out of ixia with black-market goods. However he soon starts to worry about the Commander’s trust in him. When Valek finds out he has been kept in the dark about certain things, things the Commander should have confided in him, he starts to wonder where the Commanders loyalties lie and where his should as well.
Yelena, even without her magic, is still a strong and formidable character, though it’s difficult for her to adjust when she realises how much she has come to rely on her Soulfinding powers. In spite of that she is determined not to let anyone lock her away for her own safety; not the Magician’s Council, her brother Leif, or anyone who thinks they know what’s best for her. She has made a lot of deadly enemies but even without her powers she knows she has to be the one to face down Ben Moon before he can destroy Sitia and the countries relationship with Ixia.
Valek has always been a strong character, he is the one person Yelena draws strength, knowledge and support from; she leans on him. Even though his heartmate is in danger from Ben Moon Valek trusts Yelena’s ability to protect herself; and despite the fact that he is worried about her, especially when he realises she no longer has her powers, he knows she is capable of keeping herself safe and that she has good people surrounding her to help her. We see a lot of Valek’s past in Shadow Study and his journey through the School of Night and Shadows, leaving behind the boy who lost his brothers and becoming the assassin who finally kills the King.
One of the things I love about Yelena and Valek’s relationship is that they don’t live in each other’s pockets. Valek’s loyalty is to the Commander and Yelena respects that. She doesn’t pout of get unnecessarily mad when he ends their vacation early because the Commander has called him back to Ixia. In turn Valek believes in Yelena’s abilities and lets her follow her own path, knowing she will always come back to him. The two of them have a very strong relationship, and they clearly love and respect one another. However I would have loved to see them interact with each other more, solving their problems together rather than apart.
The story is told from the points of view of Yelena, Valek and Janco. Janco has always been one of my favourite characters. He is very happy-go-lucky and never seems to take anything every seriously but he has a good heart and when it comes down to it he would give anything to help his friends. Most of the time we saw him in the past series he was always with Ari, and the two became inseparable in my mind, but in Shadow Study we got to see him on his own and really see him grow as a character. He acts like another big brother to Yelena and their banter is always fun to read.
I always adored the world-building in the Chronicles of Ixia series, and all the other stories Maria V. Snyder has written that take place there. We see Ixia through Valek’s eyes but as well as seeing the country under the Commander’s reign, with the people split into districts and all wearing a uniform, we also got to see the country under the King’s reign through Valek’s past as well as the school where he learnt how to become an assassin. We see Ixia through Valek’s eyes and Sitia through Yelena’s. Each of them call their countries their home and it’s easy to see how their actions throughout this novel mimic those they have grown with; Valek following the commanders rules no matter what, and Yelena going her own way believing she has the knowledge and power to protect herself.
I really loved this book, and after the way it ended I was so excited for the second in the series. A year seemed like a horrifically long wait to find out what happened next for Yelena and Valek. The two of them are my favourite characters and one of my favourite OTP’s, I loved having this change to jump back into their world and read more about their adventures.
What did you think of Shadow Study? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.