This review contains my general thoughts on the first three books in The chronicles of Ixia series, them being Poison study, Magic study and Fire study, with the focus on the first book.
What I particularly liked abot this book is a way the closed system they live in is represented and how story and characters fit into it.
They live in a totalitarian regime where Commander and his military officials control everything; everyone wears the same clothes, people can travel or move only with official permission, all people are assigned a job according to their abilities, country and estates, even the castle previously owned by the king, are stripped bare from all decorations, and only what is essential remained (and what is important for the story, all magic is forbidden).
At first that kind of a life seems dull, cruel, repressed and emotionless, but as a story continuous we get to see many details of that life, we get to know people and their relationships, intrigues, motivations, friendships, joy and love. I find that kind of a setting even more interesting, as if when stripped bare of the ornaments we see people more clearly, we are more interested and engaged in a story.
The best part of the book is that you feel tension every step of the way.
On every page of the book Yelena is in some perilous situation, and the feeling the close society leaves amplifies that sense of excitement and urgency Yelena feels.
For example, imagine a simple task as getting a book from a library, in one scene you have a military governed castle, guards on every corner, your life and position are on shaky legs, you don’t have any friends, everyone is a potential enemy; In the abandoned library you find a forbidden book, you are rushing back to your room caring contraband in your backpack fearing every sound, or imagine the same situation in a large, crowded university, full of your friends and family, surrounded with magic, and sounds of street players, abundance of decorations, colors, lights… The feeling is just not the same, while other image seems livelier; the first one actually has more life and soul in it. And that sense of raw excitement is lost in second and third book in my opinion. I love the way you unpack that closed world, slowly build it, and establish your place there, in a way that in the end it feels safer and more comfortable than the one of luxuries and abundance. In that aspect first and second book make good opposites, you can see both worlds and compare them.
The other thing I really liked in the books is Yelena. I love that she is not some damsel in distress, right from the first page. She is a murderer (self-defense but non the less), she’s been in dungeon for months and is expecting to die by hanging, she has nothing to lose, and after she gets a second chance she becomes a food tester, constantly being poisoned, and her life hangs from a thread, and she is a fighter, through all of this she is strong and proud and clever and never relents.
Valek is a great character especially in the first book and I liked their relationship, I’m kinda sad they rushed things between them, after the first book there is no real struggle in their love, sure there are some outside factors but I would like if that initial phase was prolonged a bit. Ari and Janco are soo entertaining, I love them, while most of the new characters in later books haven’t really caught my attention.
Yet another thing I would like to mention is that every book has a mystery/crime subplot in a way, and although the culprit in the first book is, well obvious, I liked that element of the story.
I would gladly recommend this series.