I read this late yesterday night in spite of having to wake up early today, because I could not put this book down. I can't describe exactly how much I liked it, so I better list the many good points of this book:
1) Yelena: a murderer young girl who is condemned to be the food taster of the Commander. In order to accomplish this task, she has to train with a master in poison. She is also a kick-ass heroine who can fight. And who has a terrible past.
2) Valek: the said expert in poison, also a master assassin and trained fighter.
3) the Commander: a powerful man who is also nice and has his own little secret.
4) Magic: MC has it, which helped her endure her awful past. Enemy has it, which makes him more evil. Ally has it, which is helpful for Yelena.
5) Mind-read: among these powers, there is the ability of mind-reading. It can be lethal, it can be in handy.
6) I am not sure, but it seems like the plot takes place in Medieval time. Or at least, it feels like it.
7) Conspiracies: there are a lot, and Yelena can't trust anyone until finally does. She is all alone in this terrible criminal conviction until she meets good people, who not only help her, but also teach her how to auto-defend and other useful skills.
8) Festivals: which are celebrated once in a whole. There are fire acrobats! And, as a matter of fact, Yelena is an acrobat too.
9) Scholar: because Yelena has to live in Valek's suite to be safe, she has an interesting library in hand. She learns all there has to be learned about poisons and drugs. Valek himself is a scholar and the Commander's right hand. When she proves herself worthy, he decides to train her as some kind of spy.
10) Chances of dying around the corner: I wonder how much blood Yelena lose in the whole book. The poor girl has to endure, not only food poisoned, but attempts of rape, of murder from different people...
I should probably try to stop reading trilogies. I start with one and have the 2nd pending for years. Hmph. Still undecided if I read Study #3 or not....