In Retrospect: Study Series by Maria V. Snyder

retrospect study series

In retrospect is a topic that I use to discuss books I’ve recently re-read, and have not necessarily written a review on. I wrote a blog post a while back about Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (which you can check out here) where I talked about aspects of the books that I really enjoyed.

In this post, if you haven’t already guessed from the title, I’ll be talking about the Study Series by Maria V. Snyder!

Maria V. Snyder is one of my favourite authors out there: I’ve read all her books except one, and considering she has 4 series out, that’s a lot of books. However, my favourite remain the original Study trilogy which are Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study. Shadow Study is a book that came out February this year which is a continuation from the original three, but there’s another trilogy (the Glass Series) and a short story that takes place between Fire Study and Shadow Study, so we won’t be talking about that now.

I usually try to avoid talking about the covers excessively, but I’d just like to say, for once, the Australian covers are actually the best. They look good when you just let them sit on a table, they all look good on a shelf. Here’s an instagram post of mine when I re-read the book a while back:

Here are the rest of the Australian covers:

studyI think they do a great representing the books while keeping it very minimal. Plus, the flames on the spines all match so my shelf is relatively neat.

The respective US/UK editions are pictured below, although I do believe there are more versions of the books. Either way, in my opinion, flames on a black background are the neatest.


Book One: Poison Study
poison study

US edition/UK edition

Poison Study has a brilliant opening which just gets you hooked.

Locked in the darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.

It’s a great introduction to a fantastic book. The story goes on from there to a dungeon cell, an unlavished castle, magic, forests, friends and foes, not necessarily in that order.

I really admire Yelena, because the more we learn about her past, the more you sympathise with her, and all that’s she’s been through. She’s smart, she’s determined and she’s endured so much. I admire her strength and courage that she always displays.

I also really love the world. Even though it’s a fantasy novel, it’s a militaristic society in which the citizens live by a code. Everyone in Ixia has a defined place in society which is determined by skill, not birthright. Sure, there are limitations, like having to wear uniforms, but it’s fair society. Or, as fair as you can get with a militaristic society.

Some other highlights in the book in no particular order include (WARNING SOME SPOLIERS):

  • Ari and Janco’s constant bickering

Ari and Janco are constantly arguing, but when they aren’t, they’re actually an amazing power couple. (They aren’t actually together though). They’re always so supportive of Yelena, and they help her out just because of Yelena giving the commander a good report about them.

  • Yelena’s slow realisation of her feeling towards Valek

I’m not saying anything except that IT TAKES A LONG TIME.

  • Moments after the brandy meeting

Things do get heated…

  • Dilana and her kindness and willingness to help Yelena out

Dilana basically just mothers Yelena  throughout the entire book. She’s always fussing over Yelena, making sure she’s okay and she has all the things she’s needs.

  • The training exercise in which Yelena played fugitive

Except the encounter with Irys, I liked how Yelena managed to evade capture from even Valek pretty much the entire day. This scene proves how resourceful and smart she is. She also puts all the soldiers to shame with her camouflage skills.

There are also some darker moments in this book, especially when Yelena’s backstory is explored. For the most part though, it’s an enjoyable read that I strongly recommend to anyone and everyone.


Book Two: Magic Study
US edition/UK edition

US edition/UK edition – they’re both so green!

Magic Study picks up from where Poison Study ends. Yelena returns to Sitia, her homeland. Sitia is pretty much the opposite of Ixia – it’s sort of a democracy in that the council members are elected by their respective clans. We get to see this in action, and how the interactions between Sitia and Ixia take place.

Yelena is a part of the Zaltana family, who live in the jungle. She is reunited with them after fourteen years, and their reunion doesn’t exactly go as Yelena expected. I do love how accepting her parents are after fourteen years. They accept who Yelena has grown to be and they’re proud parents who are still willing to support their daughter.

We’re introduced to many new characters in this book, some of who are magicians and some who are not. We’re also introduced to arguably some of the best horses, the Sandseed horses. Kiki is still my favourite, mostly because of her sass.

There’s a lot of worldbuilding, as we are introduced to a new country in this book. I really like how the magic system works in this world, but it would suck if you weren’t a magic bearer in Sitia because you’d have a major disadvantage to those who do have magic.

This is seen in this book. There are (spoilers) people who are exploited because they are non-magic wielders. Like any other government, the Sitian government is corrupt as hell, and we get to see how that plays out throughout this book and the next one as well.

More highlights include:

  • The actual Citadel (which I imagine to be an actual castle)
  • Dax’s playful and carefree personality
  • Kiki and how fast she can actually go
  • The frustration Yelena feels when she talks to her Story-Weaver (aka Moon Man)
  • Janco’s fighting rhymes
  • Valek narrowly escaping exposure at the Ixian delegation

There’s more, but I’m going to stop there before I spoil the whole book. I don’t know why I’m writing so in depth about the events of the book since I don’t like reading spoilers myself. Oh well.

If there’s an option to hide things under a link or something, like goodreads, please let me know because that’d be extremely useful for the future.


Book Three: Fire Study
US edition/UK edition

US edition/UK edition

This is the original conclusion to the series (before Maria V. Snyder decided to continue the series), and it wrapped up everything quite nicely.

There’s a lot of character development, especially with Yelena. She has discovered that she’s a Soulfinder in the previous book, and this book is basically her coming to terms with her role as a Soulfinder.

I think Fire Study is great, because it focuses on Yelena’s abilities, and the extent she can actually reach. While there are many action/espionage moments in this book, I enjoy learning more about how Yelena’s power actually works.

The amount of corruption going on is actually astonishing, yet ridiculous. I guess without all these moments, the plot wouldn’t actually move anywhere, but it’s still crazy how much drama there is going on in the Sitian Council.

Highlights include:

  • The gang visiting the Commander’s castle and Leif falling in love with the luxuries
  • Creative use of Curare on dart guns
  • Snake Charming
  • Opal’s glass animals
  • Various Yelena/Valek arguments
  • The epic climax

Without spoiling the whole book, I thought it was a great conclusion to series. Most arcs are resolved, with some exceptions. I didn’t mind that they weren’t resolved, because the problems continue in the Glass Series. It’s a satisfying ending to this particular series, and I couldn’t be happier.


I absolutely love the world that Maria V. Snyder has created in these books! I might make a post talking about the Glass series and Shadow Study in the future, if you want, since I enjoyed talking about these books so much! Everything about these books is just amazing.

What are some of your thoughts on these books? Let me know!
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