|Author||Maria V. Snyder|
|Publication date||October 2006|
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Magic Study is a 2006 fantasy novel written by Maria V. Snyder, the second book in the Study series. The series is about a girl named Yelena who was kidnapped as a child from her home in Sitia from the Zaltana clan, who are strong in magic. At the age of sixteen, her magical abilities (illegal in Ixia) begin to show and she is experimented upon by her kidnappers, who tell her she was orphan. After killing one of her tormentors and awaiting her death in a dungeon, she is given the opportunity to become the Commander's food taster and live.
Yelena is on her way to be reunited with the family she's been stolen from long ago. Although she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways, and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better. Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magical training. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince, and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn't bed enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.
After saving the life of the Commander, falling in love with Valek, the assassin, and discovering she was kidnapped as a child because of her suspected magical abilities, Yelena is forced to return to her original home of Sitia to train in magic so she is no longer an unstable threat to the magical world. The death sentence upon her from Ixia for her ability to do magic, despite her saving the Commander, also prevents her return to Ixia and her love, Valek.
Yelena is taken to the Zaltana clan and meets her long lost parents and older brother, Leif, who despises her and states his belief that she is a spy for Ixia. Because of his abilities as a magic user himself, many in her clan think he may be right, but her parents are welcoming despite her inability to remember them.
When Leif leaves for the Academy to advise the Council, Yelena must accompany him to start her training at the Academy. Along the way, they are ambused by Cahil and his soldiers, who tells her that he is the sole heir to the throne of Ixia, the only one that Valek missed during his assassinations in the Commander's takeover. He intends to have what is rightfully his, and wants Yelena to give him information about troop movements and such in Ixia. Though Yelena protests that she is not a spy, Cahil keeps her in chains. She escapes, but comes back later that night of her own accord to strike a deal with Cahil, since they are going to the same place and she wants to prove her innocence.
Cahil brings her before the First Magician, Roze, who essentially rapes Yelena's mind before declaring she is not a spy. Yelena manages to mostly fend her off, but spends several days in horror recuperating before beginning the basics of her training. During her training, Yelena assists in helping a young woman raped and beaten by a serial killer who inadvertently left her alive. In doing so, she discovers that she is likely a Soulfinder, a very powerful magic user. However, Yelena tries not to believe this is so, as the last Soulfinder stole people's souls and used them to his own purposes before he was finally killed. She has a talent for influencing people and can at times take over their bodies, leaving her own.
Yelena's methods of doing things her own way and relying only on herself bring the wrath of her mentor, the Fourth Magician Irys, and when she goes off on her own to meet the serial killer, who has taken eleven souls of girls and needs a twelfth to come to him willingly, Irys breaks off the mind link between them in anger. But Yelena has Valek for help, as he has arrived in disguise with an Ixian delegation and has a natural immunity to magic. Together, and with help from her reluctant brother, they capture the killer. With the help of a Story Weaver magician named Moon Man, Yelena and Leif work out their differences as well, though they still banter as a real brother and sister.
However, the killer, who they nickname Ferde, is not the only rogue magician still out there. Yelena and another group of magicians fight many of the rogues, but are forced to retreat to fight another day. Valek returns to the delegation headed back to Ixia, and Yelena joins them briefly as well, at the request of the Commander, who promises to revoke her death sentence if she becomes a spy. Instead, Yelena offers to act as an intermediary between the two countries, once her magic training is complete.