Fire Study by Maria Snyder is the final book in her Study Series. I read the first one last year as part of the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout group on Goodreads and I actually really enjoyed it. (Although there were some pretty healthy criticisms to be had about the love interest). Anyway. Just as a warning this review will contain some spoilers for the two earlier books.
This book picks up about two months after the previous book. Yelena is still living in Sitia the southern country she was born in where magic is practiced while her boyfriend? Lover? I dunno. Life mate sexin’ partner is living in Ixia, the country where she was raised in and where magic is banned. In this book she spends a lot of time running around the country with her brother and spiritual guide trying to find a serial killer. She is trying to learn about her soulfinder powers, and prevent a war between Ixia and Sitia.
I really had some problems with this book, mostly stemming from the fact that Snyder is really rehashing stuff from the previous books. Sometimes I felt like I was nearly rereading the same book. It was the same issues, the same bad guys, the same themes and imagery repeating. The same conflicts. It was really tough for me to get through the first part of the book. It picked up about half way through. We finally got a real big bad, and Yelena got her act together. I’m glad I finished it because I wanted to have some closure with the characters. I think Snyder was trying to make the character grow, she was making mistakes and being stupid. It was so obvious, to me as the reader, that until she confided in the solid group of allies she’s built around herself, she wasn’t going to be able to solve the conflict of the book. It was frustrating to have a character not see it. I think if Snyder had dropped a few less massive bombs about what needed to happen I could have believed Yelena’s mistakes. Instead I was just frustrated that the main character kept failing to solve these conflicts. The big bad she has to fight is this fire mage guy and he attacks her through fires. Even though she has a mystical sage who is trying to help her find a way to defeat fire guy she instead just decides to avoid fires. It’s stuff like that. In the previous books she never shied away from the conflicts like that. In the first book she is being attacked by people who want her dead and she learns martial arts! In the second book she almost kills herself to use her magic, that she doesn’t really understand, to save a girl who has been attacked. It just seems odd that the same girl who almost died to save someone can’t face her fears (and the fear is death) to do it again.
All in all it’s a good little fantasy series as a whole and I enjoyed reading it. I was happy to have a conclusion that felt really solid, and the world building is pretty interesting. It just felt kind of sloppy to me. I give this book 2 out of five fire mages, but the series gets 3.5-4 out of five magical soulfinders.