Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder (Study #3)


23789222When 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 a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before….

Honor 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.


Fire Study started off very slowly for me, to the point that I had to drag myself to the page.

The plot covers a lot of ground, revisiting nearly every setting explored in the first two books. Characters we haven’t seen in a while are brought in for a scene or two. As a result the whole book feels thin and the action only picks up in the last third.

The characterization felt off, too. Snark a la Valek popped out of the mouths of Moon Man, Leif, and even Marrok. If I remember correctly Valek was only called “Ghost” by the horses but all kinds of people use the name now. Yelena’s personal development is haphazard and it bothered me how she’s surrounded by all these awesome people and never asks for their advice. Everyone says, “What’s the plan, Yelena? You always have a plan!” and she does. Why ask her boyfriend the master spy, the amazing tracker, or the guy that can read emotions for their input? They’re happy to follow her into a fire, so whatevs. Grah.

While I’m happy with how things ended up (and the possibility for sequels in perpetuum, yea!) the rise of a random, evil power leaves me unsatisfied. Snyder set up an interesting world in this series – two countries with vastly different systems of governance, world views, and societies. Watching people from the different cultures interact is interesting, and serves as a reminder that there is more than one way to achieve one’s goals. In this book, though, a third group is set up as the big bad and that nuance and depth is lost.

And I have to say – poor, poor Moon Man. I wanted to hug him and be his best friend. He didn’t deserve any of that.

I’m very glad I read this series but, like many series, I felt it lost some awesomeness by the end. Not sure if I’ll continue with the Soulfinders books, but we’ll see.