I just finished reading Fire Study by Maria V Snyder, I'm pretty sure its the last in the Study series, but not the last for that world.
I have to say, Snyder is a remarkable writer. She has way of weaving a world that really sticks to you, her world building and characters is truly inspired and I think that she's a strong voice in the fantasy genre.
Let me say a bit about the Study series:
It focuses around Yelena, a young woman that we first meet in Poison Study in prison, where she is offered the option of being executed for the crimes she has committed or become the Commander of the land that she lives in, Ixia, personal food taster. She chooses the tasting job, and we are lead into her world where she trains with the Commander's right hand man personal assassin, Valek, and deals with the repercussions of what she's done. She cannot run, because Valek has given her a poison and if she doesn't have some of the antidote daily she will die.
Now, I won't dive too heavily into the plot because I don't want to give it away, but I will say that there is enough realism woven into the fantasy that Yelena's world and the land of Ixia doesn't seem so far away from our own. Yelena's abilities become more complex then just being a simple poison taster, and when a plot is uncovered to try to assassinate the Commander Yelena is instrumental in helping foil it. It has enough twists and turns to keep you up at night so you can see what happens next.
In Magic Study, Yelena is free and we learn more about her life before she ended up in prison, about her family and about her blossoming abilities (did I mention they were magical?). She returns to her homeland of Sitia, the country that borders Ixia, where she was kidnapped from 14 years earlier. Trust becomes a major issue and Yelena spends a good portion of the book trying to prove she isn't a spy for Ixia; something she does after she foils the plot of a serial killer who is stealing the souls of girls to try to gain more power. Snyder really dives into her word in this book, revealing the nature of magic and power and we meet many interesting characters in this book, my favorite is a Story Weaver called Moon Man.
In Fire Study, everything comes to a head. It's a bit hard to explain without giving things away, but I think this was my favorite of the Study series. Snyder is really in her element in this book, and with both the land of Ixia and Sitia established at this point she can now put the world's that she created to their optimal use. And she does not disappoint. Also, one of the major characters from Magic Study, Opal, comes back and we learn about her life which leads us into the next series Snyder has that focuses on Opal, the Glass Series starting with Storm Glass.
Wow, I hope I've explained things well without giving too much away. But Snyder's work is something you really need to read for yourself, and do not make a judgement solely based on the back of the book matter because the Study series (same with Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series) is SO much more than that. A true study of the fantasy genre, no pun intended.