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Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: The Burning Sky

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
by Sherry Thomas
YA Fantasy
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.


The world-building in this book was really exceptional.  Complex and exciting with some great ideas about the nature of magic.  The Crucible especially was so intriguing, and I loved the idea of being able to fall into a world through a book.  This novel is also a great read because the plot moves quickly - there are so many dangers and trials for Iolanthe to overcome with the help of Prince Titus.  The gender switch aspect to the story is another intriguing facet - although I didn't feel like it was really explored in this book.  But it did add a farcical aspect which kept the story entertaining despite the desperate dangers.

There's so much going on with this book that made it a great read, that I was fine with being a little disappointed by the the other major aspect of the plot - the romance.  Iolanthe and Titus are fantastic characters on their own, and I really enjoyed their interactions and the push and pull of their emotions, but I also felt it was a little too emphasized throughout.  Their tension felt inflated to me, because almost every chapter had a moment (or several) where they were overcome with their feelings for each other but always pulled back.  I also thought their connection wasn't very well delineated - it mostly seemed superficial, and a little too "insta" - relying more on physical attraction, or attraction based on their forced camaraderie.  The story switches between their two POVs as well which added to the overemphasis on their feelings since the reader has to deal with their emotional confusion from two perspectives.  I think it would have been great to only know what Iolanthe was thinking with the reader being kept in the dark as to Titus' plans as Iolanthe so often was.  The changing POVs just felt too jarring to me unfortunately.

There was one more aspect of this story that I found a bit perplexing - the nature of prophecy.  The prophecy adds suspense to the story because the reader doesn't know exactly how it will be fulfilled and it can be very deceptive by setting up expectations, but it seems like the fulfillment of the prophecy was often cheating because the characters made themselves fulfill it by following exactly what was forseen.  This didn't bother me so much, but I would be interested in seeing what would happen if the characters directly went against what the prophecy foretold.

This first book in this series sets up what sounds like a really great epic confrontation, and I am looking forward to knowing more about Iolanthe's powers, and how she will overcome the very powerful Bane.  This book has a fantastic take on magic, some nail-bitingly suspenseful moments, and great characters - I think it is a great start to the series.

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  1. This one was a good read for me too! I did find the romance to be... iffy at times. Individually, Iolanthe and Titus were wonderful characters. I guess it would have been nice to see them go against the prophecy. That would have been interesting!

  2. I enjoyed this one too for the most part, expect for the romance which felt a bit underwhelming and you're right the prophecy was a little iffy too. I think you're right, the story has a LOT of potential and room to grow from here. The magic system is unique, the villain is threatening enough and by themselves the to MC's are quite likeable! I hope the romance has time to develop in the next one! Wonderful review ^^

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

  3. Oh I am glad you feel the same about the romance, it seemed like it wanted to be great, but it just didn't work for me, and I was worried that it was just me then! I'm sure it will improve though since the characters are so wonderful!

  4. The cover is gorgeous! They really did a great job with the design. I hope you enjoy this one, I'm glad you are interested!

  5. I'm glad you felt the same about the romance! It had all the ingredients to be fantastic but never quite made me fall for it though. I am really looking forward to seeing how they beat the Bane - he seems too scary and powerful! Thank you for your comment Micheline!

  6. I'm disappointed to hear that the romance had an insta-vibe. The book description makes it sound like it would mostly be Titus warring with himself about what he wants more, to fulfill his mission or to protect Iolanthe. I was really excited, until you dialed me back down. I hate insta-love. And I hate purely carnal attraction. I'm still looking forward to reading this book, though. Despite the romance being different from what I expected, the story itself still sounds promising! :)

  7. Hmm, I'm not sure if I'd want to pick this up or not. Good world building is one of my favorite things in a fantasy novel, but I'm really tired of stories where romance takes over the plot and isn't well done.

  8. I think this book is more about Iolanthe warring with herself, and even though I thought her dilemma was very believable, I also wanted her to take charge more quickly. It is still a very enjoyable book though, I'm glad you still plan to read it!

  9. Well I think the romance does try to take over the plot here - but maybe waiting til the release of the second book will help you decide better - I think this will be a great series so I am looking forward to continuing on with it!

  10. I gave this one four stars for pretty much the same reasons although I didn't mind the romance too much. I wish there could have been more on the gender switch too, there was a lot that could have been done with that. Glad you liked it!

  11. The gender switch aspect could have been so much fun! I felt a bit sad we didn't get more of it. :) It's great to read that you felt much the same way on this as I did!

  12. The foundations for their romance was very good, although I agree it would have been great to see it more in the next books, but Titus and Iolanthe are so great together that I am sure I will love the next books even more! Especially since there is so much at stake now in the story!

  13. I adored this book. I totally agree - the world building and unique sort of magic were great. And I really liked that Titus and Iolanthe were such good characters on their own.

    The romance mostly worked for me. I do wish it had been developed some more, especially at the end when he's all mad in love with her. I would have preferred to get there in the 2nd or 3rd book. But the part I liked was that there was an intimacy in their relationship that had nothing to do with the "romance" instead it was built around them having to rely on each other and being the only people they could be honest with. I thought it created a very good sort of vulnerability between them which I thought led organically into them fighting for each other or really caring about the other person's fate.

    But I still really, really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next one :)