Magic Study (Study #2) - Maria V. Snyder I think I get now why people say this isn't as good as Poison Study. Plot-wise, there are a lot of threads going on and they don't all come together as gracefully as they could. But as far as personal enjoyment goes, this book definitely lived up to its promise. I don't know what it is about these books that makes me stay up WAY past any kind of reasonable bedtime to finish them, but I love it.

I loved the new characters and settings we got in this book. The different regions of Sitia, the descriptions of the different clans and where they lived, the Zaltana clan's tree-home. Leif, Perl, Esau, Dax, the Master Magicians, and the rest were all fun to meet, and Kiki the horse was just delightful.

There's a lot of really fun world-building going on here, and my favorite part continues to be the contrast between Ixia and Sitia and the ways they're governed. I'm fascinated by the discussions between the characters--in this book, between Yelena and Cahil--about the pros and cons of each system. Yelena is disgusted by the beggars she sees in the streets of Sitia, knowing that in Ixia they'd be provided with basic necessities and jobs. On the other hand, though, Yelena is currently in exile from Ixia because everyone with magic there is sentenced to death, and the Ixian system is obviously far from perfect. I hope to see these issues explored further in the third book.

Watching Yelena discover new skills and new uses for her magic was one of my favorite things about this book. I love a good magic story, and this magic is well-written and easy for me to understand. At no point did I feel confused about what was happening, which is a pitfall of a lot of other magic books.

One thing I'm not sure if I like is the treatment of the Ixian Commander here. In the first book, we are given to understand that he is transgender--that he considers it his "mutation" to have been born with a man's soul in a "woman's body." But in this book, he shows up dressed as and acting as a woman, as a disguise, which seems out of character for someone so thoroughly repulsed by that part of himself in the first book. Yelena says she senses "two souls in one body" in the Commander, which is a bit convenient. I wish they had just kept him trans without trying to bring anything magical into it.

I love the idea of Yelena as a liaison between the two countries. Looking forward to reading the third book.