This chapter is chock full of information! Yelena encounters the southern magician and is told she has magic. I’ve read lots of fantasy books where the protagonist learns about his/her powers and spends a couple chapters in denial – as a reader, that has become tiresome to me and I didn’t want to do that.  Yelena is surprised her “survival instinct” is magic, but she doesn’t dismiss it.  It’s yet another problem that she has to deal with.  In the exchange with the magician, Yelena and the readers learn a little about the source of magic and how it works (and also learns Valek is immune to magic).  Yelena makes an agreement with the magician and it gives her some time to sort everything out.

I like this exchange between Yelena and Irys:
“You put on such a brave front. But I know if I took another step toward you, you’d wet your pants.” [Irys said]
“With your blood.” I brandished my knife. But I couldn’t keep a straight face; the boast sounded ridiculous even to my own ears.

In the first draft of the book, I named the southern magician Petal.  I was thinking that the people who lived in the south would have “nature” names like Petal, Leaf, Fern, Lily, etc…  When my editor sent me back her revision notes on Poison Study, she mentioned how she didn’t like the name Petal.  But I liked it and kept it.  Each draft after that, she’s mark the name with an unhappy face.  Finally, I asked her why and she said, “Petal sounds like a Disney name.” Well, I didn’t want THAT!  I mentioned it to my writing critique group and a couple of them brainstormed the name Iris, but said I should spell it with a “y.”  However, I did use the name Petal for a minor character later in the series.

When Valek arrives, Yelena is once again standing on thin ice (or should I say a weak limb ;).  She asks why the Commander is so against magicians and finds out all magicians found in Ixia are assassinated.  Yet another obstacle for Yelena!

This passage about sums it up for her:
“Trouble seemed to find me regardless of my efforts. Orphaned. Tortured. Poisoned. Cursed with magic. The list grew longer by the day.”

Here's a comic strip a reader drew of when Valek and Yelena meet in the tree:

And then the wagons filled with strange goods arrives!  Lots of things going on and I think that’s one of the reasons my books have been described as “unputdownable.”  The action doesn’t stop for too long.  The goods are the first clue about Criollo – the pods are basically cacao pods and the beans are cacao beans that are inside the pods.

Yelena figures out that the men with the wagons have stolen the uniforms because the uniforms don’t fit well.  I’ll admit I stole this idea from the movie The Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen ( If you haven’t seen this movie, put it on your list!  It’s one of my favorites.

The chapter ends with Yelena being tackled.  Readers can’t go to bed now. ;)

Question 15 – Who is Petal?  

Don't answer this question in the comments!! This is another chance to win! There will be 31 questions for each chapter note published. Collect the answers to ALL the questions (or your best guess) and then enter to win a T-shirt at the end of the month (I'll post the Rafflecopter on the 31st).


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