Title: Poison Study (Study #1)
Author: Maria V. Snyder
First published: 2005
In Ixia, the Code of Behavior and the rules are absolute: if you kill a person, no matter the reason, even in self-defence, you are executed. The strict Commander Ambrose (highest rank in the country) ensured it that way since the takeover years ago.
Yelena was going to face her execution when the Commander's right-hand man (who also happens to be a trained assassin and a poison master) named Valek offered her a chance to live... sort of. She was offered the position of being the Commander's food taster for poisons.
Her new life of being the food taster was not a picnic. She was given a poison named Butterfly's Dust, and had to be given an antidote every morning to avoid painful death, by Valek. Under Valek's strict training, she became the best food taster in Ixia. But not all people were happy with Yelena's new position.
General Brazell was very determined to have Yelena killed for revenge of his dead son by the girl's hands. He ordered several of his personal guards to hunt the girl, forcing Valek to step up and protect Yelena to an extreme; she was to live in Valek's personal quarters.
On the other hand, General Brazell was not the only one who wants Yelena killed. The poor girl must suffer an abundance of murder attempts by a Southern Magician lady, a torturer from Yelena's past who turned out to be a powerful Magician too (named Mogkan), an opposition underground organization lead by a woman named Star, and a Captain in Commander's guard. Lucky for her, Valek was always there to help her. These things also forced her to learn self-defence with Ari and Janco (two guards who were promoted to captains and acted just like Yelena's older brothers).
Things got more confusing when weird things kept happening to Yelena (like hearing buzzing sounds in her ears in the face of dangers, and seeing the ghost of the man that she had killed everywhere), and the Commander started to act weird. And of course, just like any other stories out there, the main characters to the rescue and save the day blah blah blah will happen in the end.
I actually read this book because of a recommendation by a certain booktuber that I follow on youtube (I follow a lot, so please don't ask me which one). I looked it up on Goodreads an it has four point some stars, so I guess, yeah whatever, I'll try reading it. It's an old book, anyway. But funny thing is, it hasn't been translated into Bahasa Indonesia although it was first released like a decade ago. Huh, so that's why only a few BBI friends read it, then.
Anyway, I actually intended to read it slowly, as a bed time story (like maybe 10% a day before bed, because I read it in ebook version, and it has no pages, only percentage), but after only 20% , I could not stop reading it. I didn't expect it to be that good, like omygod really good I like it so much now I'm rambling...
Okay, focus. Huft...
So why do I like it?
It has a badass heroine. Able to jump literally from tree to tree, able to use bow and knife, able to kill, and literally kick some ass. Pardon my language. She's very determined, and definitely not a damsell in distress although she needs rescuing from time to time. So, check!
It has an assassin, which is, I know he was like 33 years old man in the story, but come on... 30 years something for men is really like golden age. It is the stage where a man is at his most stunning appearance. Take a look at many Hollywood actors. Even Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are still smoking hot in their fifties. Damn. Sorry. Pardon my language again. But you have to understand that Valek is like a dream come true; cold but caring, agile and basically able to do anything! Yum...
It has a fast pace of the story. Like super duper lightningy (is that even a word?) fast like you wouldn't believe. Some people say it's too fast, but for me it's just perfect. I like fast movements *wink*
It's a complete package of fantasy story. Eventhough the title is Poison Study, thank God it's not actually a book full about poison. Otherwise, it would be a Poison Encyclopedia, hehehee... It has magic, ghost, action full of killings and kicking and stabbing and slashing, you name it. It has assassination, murder, intrigue, politics, friendship, romance, mind control, and of course poison! I couldn't ask for more.
Anyway, I gave this book 4,5 stars out of 5.
It is really good if you're into fantasy and fast pace.