Review: Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

February 1, 2017
Review: Dawn Study by Maria V. SnyderDawn Study Series: Soulfinder #3
Published by Mira on 31st January 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

Thanks to Mira for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Dawn Study is the conclusion of Maria V Snyder’s excellent series that started a number of years ago with Poison Study and brought to us the characters of Yelena and Valek.  I think it’s very fitting that this final series once again brought to the fore those two characters that we all came to love so much from the Study books.  Spoiler alert: if you haven’t read the previous books in the series you might want to look away about now as this review will undoubtedly contain spoilers.  You have been warned!

So, we pick up virtually where the last book left off.  Yelena is pregnant and the baby seems to be drawing her magic in some unknown way, making her a magic free zone and  also leaving her incredibly vulnerable to any number of people who have come to hold a grudge over the years not to mention an assortment of assassins.  Yelena Is from Sitia and has (or at least had) very powerful magical abilities.  Valek, on the other hand is from Ixia.  Ixia lives in fear of those with magic and think all magic users should be eradicated.  The Commander of Ixia has very strong views on the subject and his feared assassin Valek has worked for him many years helping to keep magic at bay and in the process forming strong bonds and even a friendship of sorts with the Commander.  Unfortunately, however, in a strange twist of fate, and just as Yelena found herself powerless, Valek seems to have come into his own magical ability.  An ability that was buried so deep within that the possibility of him ‘burning’ out by not knowing his own strength was very real.  Yelena and Valek now find themselves on the Commander’s most wanted list.  On top of that it seems that the two countries are poised on the brink of war.  In a strange twist the Commander himself seems to be being controlled by one of the very magicians he fears so much and a large portion of Sitians seem to be under the influence of a drug that renders them little more than puppets.  Valek and Yelena, and the unique assortment of friends and family that they have gathered around themselves over the years, need to uncover the full extent of the plot before the war and bloodshed begins.

I enjoyed Dawn Study, I think it brings the series to a very satisfactory conclusion, that’s not to say that I didn’t have some issues but overall I think Ms Snyder has created a very entertaining series with an ending that brings many of our favourite characters together and ties up so many threads along the way.

In terms of the plot, well, there is plenty going on and I thought the story was very fast paced.  There are various levels of deception and betrayal and a number of scares as one after the other of the characters are caught and held and potentially tortured for information whilst rescue attempts are planned and executed.

The characters.  If you’ve enjoyed this series you’ll be pleased to know that many of your favourite characters will be not only putting in an appearance but also will be critical to the plot.  I’m not going to name them all but it feels like just about everybody has a role to play in preventing the forthcoming war.

What I particularly enjoyed about this final instalment is that the author has let the characters grow.  Valek and Yelena are a perfect example of this in that with a baby on the horizon their relationship has moved on.  They have more responsibility and a lot more at stake now.  That’s not to say that they’ve become predictable or boring in any way just that their relationship has matured in a way that you would expect and although Valek has the urge to stifle Yelena and wrap her up in cotton wool and put her on the top shelf out of the way of harm he also recognises that he can’t do so. Similarly, a number of the characters feel like they’ve moved on in terms of knowing what they want and where they want to be.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, it’s a catch 22 sort of situation.  In trying to bring so many characters back onto the stage it does leave the book feeling a little bit cluttered.  On top of that it doesn’t feel as though you spend any real quality time with any of the characters but I don’t think this is a surprise with so many being thrown into the mix.  And, there is a definite feel of repetition in terms of captures and escapes which kind of left me feeling like the characters were never in any real danger.

But, in spite of a few reservations I think that this is a great ending to the series and, yes, a pleasingly happy and satisfying one that I’m not afraid to say was just what I hoped for.

I’ve followed this series now for about 9 or 10 years and whilst it’s a bit sad to be coming to the end I can see that there are a number of openings here which could leave Ms Snyder with possibilities to revisit in the future and I, for one, would always be happy to revisit this world.

Lynn Williams
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