My sister rereads Lord of the Rings once a year. This perfect classic of fantasy literature set a standard few books can meet. I am glad that Maria V. Snyders books of the kingdoms Ixia and Sitia carry an echo of that world, where mages and wizards are part of the everyday landscape, magic is always just around the corner, and young people fall into quests that change the course of their world.
Opal’s magic had always been more of a roller coaster ride than a power ride, so she hadn’t expected to feel more grief than relief at its loss. But she finds herself quite surprised when she spends her healing time moping. It doesn’t help that with her magic gone, the comfort of the glass kiln is denied her – with the glass no longer speaking to her, even the heat of the ovens brings with them the chill of failure. And the council is not pleased that she has turned their entire economy on its ear by no longer being able to create the glass messengers which had revolutionized the Sitian communication system. Also, she has actually become immune to magic – something almost certain to bring a death sentence in a culture where mages enforce the laws. What can the future possibly hold for a washed up magician turned magical anathema?
She doesn’t have to wonder for long. Valek, the Ixian security chief and the only other person immune to magic that Opal knows – brings her a curious puzzle to mull over. And with it comes a problem only she can resolve: Someone has stolen her blood – and that blood carries the power of Opals’ former magic. She must go back to the land where she was once held prisoner – and where she lost all her dreams.
Opal quickly finds herself busier than she ever was. Returning to Fulgor to solve her problem, she instead finds a new one in Councilor Moon. The crisis in Sea Glass has left the councilor completely paranoid and as Opal is one of the few people she trusts, she sets about helping Tama by day as her aide de camp. Nights are spent training hard for a covert mission that will help her find her blood and get it back.
But even as Opal tries to solve the problems of governing a country by day and becoming a secret agent by night, the problems of her heart threaten to make them all pale in comparison. As everything starts to come to a head, she must decide who she will pull close and who she should push away. And then Opal finds that not all magic is lost to her.
Less would definitely have been more in this tale of quest, capture, love triangles, mysteries, escapes and endless adventures. At one point, I felt tired just reading about Opal’s life and couldn’t figure out where she found the stamina to live it! It does help, a tremendous amount, that Ms. Snyder knows how to write strong women. Her girls don’t just give lip service to being strong and then wait around to be rescued; they are most often the means of their own rescue. And they always play a significant part in saving the day. She also shows you just how they become the fantastic heroines that they are – there are no suddenly acquired skills here, but each woman trains for her heroic deeds whether it is in the magical realm or the mundane. In this book, Opal put in a lot of hours perfecting the skills of a spy, so that when she went into a tough situation I felt her well prepared to handle it.
I also really liked the magical realm the Glass series takes place in. It’s a wonderful, magical medieval style realm. The author does a fantastic job of giving us enough information to fully understand her world but not boring us with details we don’t need to know.
But while the book has a really great heroine and well defined setting I felt a bit cheated in my hero. Most especially in the fact that the love triangle, partly quadrangle at one point, did not give enough development time for any of the three men. In the end I was surprised but not shocked by her choice. But I could also not fully rejoice in her choice – I just hadn’t seen enough of them as a couple for me to sigh at their union. The entire romance portion (and the fact the book felt very, very full) are what kept it from being a DIK read for me.
I do want to point out one other quibble – which did not affect the grade but was a huh kind of moment for me – and that is the fact that Opal’s new magic was revealed in the blurb. It doesn’t happen till page 300 or so of the book. Call me crazy, but something that happens three quarters of the way into the book qualifies as spoiler territory for me. Especially since it is an important part of Opal’s feelings and dealings by the end of the story.
This is the last of the three closely joined books about Opal. I would most assuredly not recommend starting the series here but with Storm Glass, as it is meant to be started. For a third book, it did exactly what it should, giving us a satisfactory and mostly complete ending to Opal’s story. I enjoyed this and the Study series enough that I am already looking forward to Ms. Snyder’s next trilogy. Long may Ixia and Sitia prosper!