Just finished Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder and loved it! I don't really know what I was expecting from this book because I have never read anything by this author but it definitely exceeded my expectations. I'm starting on Magic Study (book 2) as soon as I'm done here. Here is the summary from the back cover of Poison Study:
Murder, mayhem and magic...
Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die - but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman's noose.
But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia's food taster - chosen to ensure that the Commander's food is not poisoned - has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed -me- must be offered the position.