Summary (goodreads.com): About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…
Review: This is one of my favourite books ever (I first read it in 2010). A friend of mine recommended it and I thought it sounded interesting. It is the first book in a trilogy and I have read all three books, but this is the best.
I simply love the characters. Yelena has a very strong personality and, having been through a lot, is not naive or one of those disgustingly sweet heroines that rely on the male counterpart. Her thoughts and actions are very comprehensible and I could identify with her fears and hopes.
Valek, the mysterious gift mixer and spy master is the spitting image of my perfect male hero. Dark-haired, tall and lean, witty and always in control – except in certain situations with the heroine. I always go for the stories with characters like him in them. It’s a shame there are not more.
The story is also not an average one. There are elements that we have read before, yes. But then again there are some twists to the whole thing that I did not expect and was surprised by, and that does not happen too often. I probably like the first book best because the magical element is not as strong as in the sequels and focuses more on the storytelling. I have two favourite parts – the one where Yelena acts as a runaway and at the ending, when Yelena and Valek have their “I tell you the truth now” moment.
Maria Snyder is one of my favourite authors. I have read almost everything she wrote that I could get my hands on. She has a captivating style and always keeps me on the edge. She writes in first person, but you don’t know everything the main character thinks and knows. You get to know her story as the people around her do, which I like very much. Her style is not very soft and romantic, but then again the story doesn’t call for that and I think she does a great job at describing emotions without a flowery vision.
P.S: I have this book in an audio version, too. It is the only audio book I can fall asleep to. All the more reason to love it!