By Maria V. Snyder
409 pgs. Science Fiction
Yelena faces death by hanging until she is offered amnesty by the intimidating Valek, chief of security for the territory of Ixia. Valek offers a condition Yelena can't deny. He will spare her life if she will become his poison taster. Valek teaches Yelena to recognize the slightest hint of poison in food and drink. While enjoying her freedom from the dungeon Yelena discovers that some people want her dead. As political tensions grow in Ixia Yelena discovers a magical talent within her that she cannot control. This is an exciting series opener with intelligent political focus, adventure, and sophisticated romance.