The book Poison Study by Maria V Snyder introduces us to numerous characters that are manipulated by the author to make the story more engaging. The story is set in the past, during a time when magic and kings were still part and parcel of the society. This was also a time when elements including tit-for-tat were still practiced. In the world created by Maria, it was illegal to kill someone, and in the case one is found guilty of killing another, the only way out was to face the same wrath. This is a story of a lay who found herself between a hard place and a rock after killing someone on self-defense.
Yelena stands out to be among the most prominent characters in the book. It is her personality and actions that are most expressed throughout the story. She is also used to develop other characters within the book, including Velak. The audience is introduced to a girl whose life is portrayed as not being so rosy but still manages to take a turn for the worst after killing the general's son, out of self-defense. According to the rules of the land, she is to be killed. She is contained in a cell for one year, a place infested with rats. The poor conditions can be seen to be a great source of discomfort for the character, but at the end, she sees a light. Instead of being executed, she is brought out and given the role of a trainee, put in place to be a food taster. From this point, we start to witness friction between the character and the people around her.
General Brazell is among the people who are not pleased with the idea of keeping Yelena alive, even if she is being used as a lab rat. According to Valek, Yelenas status in the community had already been dropped to the level of being a rat, the same that she had been accustomed to while in prison. The conflict is furthered by the notion of the person in charge of the commanders life, choosing someone who already has nothing to offer or lose to be the food taster. In line with general Brazell, it does not make sense to train the person who killed his son to be part of the team charged with the responsibility of protecting their leader. From the audiences point of view, we are introduced to this lady who had already accepted her fate to be executed. Yelena is seen to be innocent being that the audience can witness the fact that her actions to kill the generals son we necessary and valid for her survival. Without killing her attacker, her life would have ended without any purpose.
Yelena finds an opportunity to have a purpose for living after one year and she accepts. This is in light of everyone around her siding with the nations rule that she ought to be killed. The commander is key to ensuring that the people who break rules are executed yet his life is put on the line by incorporating the services of Yelena. It is ironical to use a dead woman as a tool to preserve the life of a commander who ordered her death. Valek is fully aware of this predicament but in the long run, defends his actions and even protects the life of Yelena whenever she was in danger.
There is tension between Yelena and Valek being that they are portrayed to be from different worlds. In order to ensure that Yelena does not try to escape, Valek gives her butterfly dust and an antidote. This is used as an instrument to ensure that she does not escape. There is conflict at this point being that for more than one year, the life of Yelena was useless, only to be of great importance to Valek to the extent that they cannot afford to see her escape. Such actions are the same ones that build tension between the relationship between general Brazell and Valek.
The author takes us back to the period when Yelena was a child. From her origin, we are introduced to her abilities and involvement in the world of magic. Her past, she was kidnapped by general Brazell, a man who she ends up killing his son. On the other hand, in the world that she is in today, she is expected not to have any magical powers, even though they develop in her with every passing day. The character was blind to her magical past until it was revealed to her by a fellow magician. The audience cannot help but be more engaged to the story while following the way Yelena plays the part of developing the story. From a humble unknown magical background to being kidnapped and ending up killing the kidnapper's son, the author manages to get the readers' full attention. The tension between characters is furthered when Yelena tries to hide her magical abilities in order to save her life, one that she had already been sentenced to loose. In the long run, she is seen to have developed feelings for Valek, a man who was part of the team that wanted to end her life. It would have been almost impossible to predict that Yelena would take center stage in protecting the life of the commander, as well as Valek.
Snyder, Maria V. Poison Study. New York: LUNA, 2005. Print.
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