Sunday, June 28, 2009

Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder

As you've probably noticed based on things we've mentioned in our posts, it's been a chaotic couple of months for our group -- graduations, weddings, world travel, birthdays, new homes, and of course, the constant struggle to write often and write well. This review of Storm Glass has taken awhile for precisely those reasons. Back in May, we met fantasy author Maria V. Snyder (of the Study series fame) on the local leg of her book tour promoting the release of Storm Glass, the first book in her spin-off series. (Read about the book signing and the Study series here.) Storm Glass can be read independently of the Study series, but it does contain spoilers if you want to read both. Either way, it's one of our favorites!

Storm Glass follows Opal Cowan, a young Sitian woman who spent most of her life believing she was no more than a glassmaker of above-average skill. It wasn't until she met Yelena Zaltana that she discovered she infused her glass with magic, an ability she used to help Yelena save Sitia from blood magicians. Now she's attending her fifth and final year of magic school at the Keep and is known to her fellow students as a One-Trick Wonder.

When the Master Magicians tell Opal that someone has sabotaged the Stormdance clan's orbs, killing the stormdancers who use them to harness hurricane-force energy, she is called upon to help the clan investigate. Opal has no idea the danger she will face. She also meets Kade, the strongest stormdancer, whose mercurial nature draws them together, even as he resists their connection. As they try to discover the people behind the sabotage and violence, Opal realizes that she possesses a greater and more terrifying power than she'd ever imagined.

In Storm Glass, Opal proves to be worthy of main-character status. Her complicated past, which includes being kidnapped and tortured, gives her depth and maturity. Readers can empathize with her struggle to better herself and understand her place in the world. She constantly downplays the importance of her ability (she creates magical glass messengers that have revolutionized communication for magicians throughout Sitia), but she eventually begins to acknowledge how much she has to offer. She's not a perfect heroine (much less fierce and fearless than Yelena), but her strength comes from within. It's impossible not to root for her to succeed.

The world of Sitia and its various clans, first introduced in the Study series, are explored in depth in Storm Glass. Snyder has created a vivid reality, but the scenery and politics never overwhelm the plot. One of Snyder's strengths is the ability to weave in a large supporting cast of secondary characters who never appear flat on the page and are distinct enough to hold their own in scenes. Kade is drawn exceptionally well, and his personality is complemented by Ulrick, Opal's other love interest. Fans of the Study series will enjoy the reappearance of some of their favorites, including Fisk, Ari and Janco, and even Yelena.

The faced-paced, complex plot kept me reading, and I didn't grow bored once, despite the nearly 500 pages. When the action slowed, I was drawn in by Opal's personal struggles. Or Snyder would write Kade into a scene (there were never enough!). I felt satisfied (as both reader and writer) by the ending -- Snyder wrapped up the main plot, but she left plenty of things unresolved, and I can't wait to see more of Opal in Sea Glass!

Storm Glass.
Sea Glass.
Maria V. Snyder's


  1. Shawna Lewis

    I can't wait to read this book plus it has a really neat map in the front when you open the book up.Your review was wonderful as always and just reminded me again how much I really do need to read this book.....and soon!! Thanks, Shawna

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