Release Date: September 21st, 2007 (UK)
Rating: 10 out of 10
Buy the Book: Amazon US
Oh. My. God. I’ve read Maria V Snyder’s other series, Inside Out, so I knew her writing and storytelling skills were great, but this was just incredible! Why has no one forced me to pick this up before? *glares* I loved it! So, as you can probably tell, this review is going to be full of gush. And swooning over Valek. Just a warning ;)
Our main protagonist Yelena is about to be executed for killing a General’s son, when she is taken to meet a man who offers her the choice to become the Commander’s poison tester. Yelena, not wanting to die quite yet, accepts, and from there we see her go through her training, tests and getting into lots of trouble.
The characters were, for me, the main draw of this book. There’s Yelena, who is a strong protagonist and looks out for herself really well. Then there’s Valek, the Commander, Janco, Ari, Rand, Brazell and more who are all incredibly well developed characters with more sides than a tetracontagon. I don’t know how Snyder does it, but she always makes me fall in love with (almost) every single character in her stories. Sheer brilliance, ‘tis.
Move over Dimitri Belikov, and create a space on that 1st place podium you’re currently standing on, for *drum roll* Valek! Oh my goodness. *swoons* How is it possible to hate a character so much in the beginning, only to love him at the end? Okay, I’ll be honest, I saw what Snyder was doing, and I never hated Valek. Yeah, I may have been a bit weary of him
and scared, but I could never hate him. He’s badass. He’s incredibly intelligent, he’s a badass fighter, he’s good looking, he’s the Commander’s second in command... I could do this all day. I love him.