Published: 01 November 2009 by HarlequinTeen
Format: Paperback, 441 pages
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THE APPRENTICESHIP IS OVER - NOW THE REAL TEST HAS BEGUN
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder - able to capture and release souls - spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by murderous sorcerer she has defeated before...
Honour sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would - be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself - and save the land she holds dear.
Having loved both Poison Study and Magic Study, I put off reading Fire Study because I didn’t want the series to end! But I must confess that I am disappointed with it. Fire Study lacks all my favourite elements of books one and two, but includes all the things I didn’t enjoy in them. One of the strongest aspects of the previous books are the amazing characters and their relationships, but Fire Study is much too focussed on Yelena and doesn’t allow for the growth of the supporting cast at all.
I love the way Yelena tells her story – I have always enjoyed her ‘voice’. However, in Fire Study she becomes the leader of her group of rebels, and unlike in previous books, her friends don’t seem to ever have any advice to give her. So we have the unlikely situation of an untrained orphan-girl, with hitherto unexplained magical powers, leading a group of hardened and battle-tested warriors and trained magicians. Her leadership role causes Yelena to question the nature of her magic and eventually to fear it, until she can come to terms with being a Soulfinder and all that it entails.
This is the driving force behind the plot and I think that Yelena’s confusion is brilliantly brought to life. Although she vehemently opposed Roze, the First Magician, when in a leadership role she is forced into some difficult decisions and makes the same choices Roze did in the past, which makes Yelena question whether her powers are dangerous. The conclusion to the story is satisfactory and feels realistic: the issues between Ixia and Sitia aren’t solved but each country has an increased understanding of the other now.
I understood the separation of Yelena and Valek in Magic Study and thought it was skilfully handled. However, the conspicuous absence of not only Valek, but Ari and Janco for large parts of this novel made me skip over parts just so I could see if they ever made an appearance. Valek’s role has been further diminished from the strong warrior he was in Fire Study. He still performs some heroic acts but is so mellowed out that I have a hard time he can still inspire the fear he used to in others. The relationship between Yelena and Valek is still realistic, however, and I think the tension between them, caused by her magic, was well played out.
Over all I can safely say I enjoyed Fire Study the least out of the whole trilogy, but it is still a great book and concludes the series well. I will be reading the sequel trilogy as soon as possible!