Most of you probably know I'm biased--I *love* Maria V. Snyder. Poison Study was the one that got me hooked on her books. So take my review with a grain of salt--it is completely and utterly biased in favor of Sea Glass. ^_^ I'm happy to admit it.
Synopsis: Opal is a glassmaker by trade. Her family runs a glass factory in Booruby, and so far she is the only magician able to make glass messengers that allow magic users to communicate across long distances. This and one other magical ability (for spoiling's sake, I'll let you find out on your own) are all the magic abilities she possesses; while unique, her ego tends to suffer horribly when almost all the students she attends The Keep with are able to master a wider range of skills. Opal's lack of confidence often trips her up, and she ends up making decisions she almost always regrets.
Review and Spoiler Warning: I don't recommend reading this book unless you've read and understood Storm Glass at the very least--there's so much mythology and world-building that a new reader can get quite lost, between international politics, magic rules (some of which Opal is just now discovering herself), and Opal's three potential suitors (some of whom are not the greatest specimens of humanity). Better yet, start from the beginning with Poison Study. So, yeah, *spoilers ahoy*. (That means if you haven't read them yet, go get them and read before you scroll down. Go! Go!)
Sea Glass picks up almost exactly where Storm Glass left off. Opal is being summoned back to the Citadel to meet with the Council, but her prisoner Devlen (in Ulrick's body) has other plans. Supposedly reformed, he claims he's trying to help her--but can she really trust a Blood Magician who has taken over someone else's body, pretended to be her boyfriend, and whose first encounters with her involved torturing her 14-year-old self into trapping her friend Yelena and almost cost the life of Sitia's savior? Still, Devlen seems to have her back whenever Opal runs into betrayal after betrayal--so many that she doesn't know who to believe any more, so many that she can barely trust her own judgement.
Opal not only has to contend with the Ulrick/Devlen soul-switching debacle, she has to win back the Council's trust as her few but unique gifts mark her as a possible danger to the state, train the new glassmakers for the Stormdance clan before the weather turns wild, and figure out where she and her particular set of talents stand where Sitia is concerned (the Master Magicians and the Council having heretofore made all her decisions for her). To top that off, her romance with Kade heats up, only to arouse the ire of certain members in his clan who claim they're just looking out for posterity: Stormdancer Powers + Glass Magic = Some crazy magic nobody's ever heard of before, and the current scarcity of Stormdancers supports their claim on his, erm, progeny.
I loved this book. If you enjoy complex plots, spies, and double-crosses, you will too.
I give it 5 out of 5 stars:
+ 1 star for intricate complexity (I almost broke out the color-coded Post-It flags to track who seemed trustworthy and who didn't)
+ 1 star for an unexpected twist at the end (there are several twists, but I am referring to the last and most crucial decision Opal makes)
+ 1 star for bringing back Janco and having me as a character (see, I told you--I'm biased!)
- 1 for being hard to follow at times (If you couldn't keep track of the double-crossing and back-stabbing in Fire Study, this will leave you blue with confusion. I love that kind of thing, but the average reader might not.)
The sequel and final installment of the series, Spy Glass, is due out in Fall 2010. Maria V. Snyder's new Young Adult sci-fi series also debuts in 2010 with Inside Out.