Study in Slaughter is the third book in Christopher G. Nuttall’s Schooled In Magic series, and a quite delightful book it is!
After an eventful summer in Zangaria, during which she saved the king’s throne from conniving barons, Emily is looking forward to rooming with her two best friends during the coming school year. This will be a particularly delightful experience for a girl who, until a year ago, had never had any friends.
Sadly, Master Tor, the tutor who is in charge of second year housing has other plans. He has already taken a dislike to Emily, before even meeting her, and he splits up the three girls, giving Emily two new roommates, a non-descript transfer student and a Gorgon.
There is little racism between humans in the Nameless World, but semi and non-human races are utterly hated. In many parts of the Allied Lands, Gorgons are not even allowed to walk down the streets. Having been raised in America, Emily has no such prejudices, but mishap gets the two new roommates off to a bad start. Tensions get worse when Emily discovers that someone is searching her desk and stealing important papers.
On top of that, her two best friends are now ken mad. Ken is a game require athletic skill that can only be played in an magical arena, to someone like Emily, who really doesn’t care for organized sports, having her friends expect her to attend games is a tremendous burden. Maybe, she hope, they won’t notice if she sneaks out during the game and does a few experiments.
Some spells in the Nameless Land require huge batteries of energy, something that is currently impossible to maintain. Emily thinks she might have a solution for this, but when she sneaks out of the ken game and tries her idea, she runs afoul of Master Tor, who is shocked at how dangerous her experiments are. Not knowing that Emily is from Earth and doesn’t know the ways of the Nameless World, he will not believe that she could be ignorant of the dangers and considers her willfully reckless.
He sends her to The Warden for punishment, but when she arrives, there is a knife in his chest and now, she’s the suspect!
As more murders occur and more fingers are pointed at her, Emily struggles to clear her name and find the killer. Could it be that the local prejudice is correct, and the Gorgon is behind these gruesome murders? Or is something even more sinister afoot?
Study in Slaughter is a very enjoyable book—well, except for the gruesome murders. Emily and the Nameless World are finally coming into their own, and the I thought the answer to what was occurring at the school was a satisfying follow-up to events in the earlier books.
It took until this book for me to figure out that the titles—at least the early ones—in this series are all school based: Schooled In Magic, Lessons in Etiquette, Study in Slaughter (nice riff of Study in Scarlet, there), School of Hard Knocks, etc. Quite clever.
Before I sign off, however I fear that it is incumbent upon me to issue a warning. Something I fear fans of this series may find shocking, but…it has to be said:
This book is Voidless!
That is right. Emily’s guardian Void does not mysteriously appear and issue a cryptic comment even once in this entire book! Not even for a single second does he teleport out of nowhere, say something Emily doesn’t really understand, and vanish again as mysteriously as he came!
For Void fans, such as myself, this is a tragedy! So aghast was I upon finishing the volume that I briefly considered drawing out my non-existent savings, buying an air ticket, traveling to Scotland, and forming a picket line outside Christopher G. Nuttall’s castle, where I intended to march back and forth carrying a sign that read:
Powered by WPeMatico