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review 2016-04-17 02:06
#CBR8 Book 40: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas

Summary from Goodreads:

 

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning. 

 

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation - or so she has been told. The one prophesied for years to be the saviour of the Realm. It's her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

 

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should only have been a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission - and her life. 

 

The Burning Sky - the first book in the Elemental trilogy - is an unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

 

 Iolanthe has lived most of her life in a remote village, with a tutor/guardian who seems to be quite content to drink himself into oblivion. She thinks he's delusional and paranoid, but when she gets desperate to perfect an elixir and performs a new spell, she suddenly brings a lot of scrutiny down on herself, including Prince Titus and she realises that her tutor's ramblings may have had some substance. Her guardian pushes her into what appears to be a trunk, but turns out to be a magical portal and she ends up in an attic with a madwoman intent to suffocate her. Luckily the prince shows up before she's killed. He explains that he's been plotting to kill the Bane for years, and his mother predicted that Iolanthe would help him. Of course, he didn't know she'd be a girl, which will seriously complicate his plan to hide her among his school fellows at Eton.

 

Titus, having access to his mother's predictions, has known about the prophesied elemental mage for years, and has set up magical safeguards so that everyone he goes to school with at Eton believes him to have a best friend, Archer Fairfax. Iolanthe assures him that she can impersonate a boy convincingly and because the Bane's agents are hot on their heels, they have no choice but to cut her hair, dress her in a school uniform and hope for the best. Titus can't imagine how anyone could mistake the pretty girl for a boy, but once they arrive at school, all the boys are cheerfully greeting their old buddy Fairfax, back after a three month convalescence at home, having broken his leg. 

 

The disguise is working, but Iolanthe doesn't have full control of her powers. For her to be able to fully assist Titus, she needs to be able to control all four elements, but her entire life she's been told that she has no powers over air. Titus can tell that there is some sort of magical block in place, but breaking through it proves difficult. All the while, the Bane's agents are watching him closely, looking for signs of the new elemental practitioner they now know exist. It's imperative that they not realise that Fairfax and Iolanthe are one and the same.

 

Then there's the added complication of the growing affection between Titus and Iolanthe. Initially, Iolanthe doesn't want to risk her life in some momentous scheme to stop the Bane, and Titus sneakily manipulates her into swearing a blood oath to help him. Once she realises she's been tricked, she feels deeply betrayed (with good reason), but as her training progresses, and she learns more about how the Bane and his agents have controlled Titus' entire life and how his mother died in a failed rebellion against them, she begins to see the worthiness of his quest. Titus knows, from his mother's prophecies, that he's likely to die before they succeed in their goal. His mission is to train Iolanthe, so she can triumph, but he's pretty sure he's not going to be there with her at the end. So them falling in love is certainly not the most convenient, even though it assures Titus of her devotion and loyalty.

 

This is Sherry Thomas' first attempt at Young Adult fiction, before this, she's only written romance. I was unsure of how to rate this book, because it's slow to start, and Titus really is a bit of an alphahole to begin with, while Iolanthe's dangerously close to practically perfect in every way. Having played a boy in some village plays is apparently enough to fool a whole school full of school boys, not to mention the staff. She picks up cricket from watching the other boys play it for a few minutes, and isn't just decent at it, but spectacular. The only thing she spends some time fighting with, is breaking the magical block on her air powers. 

 

Nonetheless, I really like the premise of the story (even though the Bane is a really lame name for a big bad) and the world building, with some of it set in non-magical Victorian England, with the rest in Titus' magical kingdom. Iolanthe clearly has a mysterious background, of which we will most likely discover more in later books. There are all sorts of prophecies, and intriguing worlds within worlds to be explored. As a romance writer, what Thomas does best is the gradual escalation in Iolanthe/Fairfax and Titus' feelings for one another. The second half of the book is a lot more action-packed and exciting than the first, and due to this, I think my rating will stay at 4 stars.

 

Judging a book by its cover: This is a fairly generic fantasy cover, with a castle, snow-capped mountains in the background, some ominous skies, lightning flashing from above, an insistent sun fighting through the clouds and big ol' winged flame shape dominating the main part of the cover. The castle is probably meant to evoke Prince Titus' palace. Iolanthe is an elemental whose main control is over fire and can call lightning from clear skies, I understand why these elements are there. Not sure about the winged shape (a phoenix? dragon?), but there are certainly a selection of flying fantasy beasties in the book, so I'll let it go. You can't really see in the thumbnail picture, but there is also a cheese tagline over the bottom part of the cover, "She can deny her power. But she cannot deny destiny." Iolanthe never denies her powers, and she's not particularly against Titus' quest to liberate his kingdom. She just doesn't want to be manipulated into helping him. Silly publishers.  

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/04/cbr8-book-40-burning-sky-by-sherry.html
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review 2015-12-31 15:53
The Burning Sky
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas

The idea for this book series is pretty chill, and it even started out pretty dang well, but unfortunately, it had a few key issues.

 

The Melodramatic Romance: It is so utterly ridiculous. I think maybe this is the book I rolled my eyes at the most this year. Now just imagine a poetic flowery 16 year old boy obsessed with destiny and who thinks he's found his one true love, who also happens to be the Chosen One, the super-special, super-powerful (gorgeous!!) mage who will save the universe from the Bane.

 

Now imagine being privy to his every thought.

 

Imagine. The. Crap. He. Will. Think.

 

And not just think...say.

 

"My love, my sky, my destiny". (Actually, I think this line is from Book Two, but still, my copy of the book has been returned to the library, and this gets the point across.)

 

*gags*

 

I mean, I can take overly dramatic declarations of love, trust me, but not when it's coming from 16 year olds who used to make out with a fricking construct in, essentially, a dream world that he gave the appearance of his crush. (Yeah, I don't get it either) And not when it's put in that silly way.

 

But besides the melodrama, and Titus occasionally creeping me out, it wasn't that bad otherwise. The weirdest part about it was that I would go from "ugggggh" to "awwww" and back again every 30 pages.

 

The Pacing: Oh dear heavens. It started off promising, at a good clip and with enough going on with the introduction of characters to keep you interested. But the middle of the book just draaaags on and on, with very little actually going on in any way except for destiny talk and Titus being a strangely likable drama queen, and then the end picks up and resumes a normal and intriguing pace. But the middle is brutal.

 

Iolanthe passing as a boy: I find trouble with this, because Titus is constantly mooning about how beautiful she is, but apparently a husky voice and a cocky grin are enough to pass her off as a teenage boy, not just for a couple weeks, but over a great deal of time. In close quarters with a bunch of teenage boys. I just find this hard to believe.

 

Like, ew: The crude and lewd homosexual/sex/"wand" jokes scattered throughout were a bit distasteful, I'm just saying.

 

And as for the low rating, the rest of that simply resulted from me not really caring about where these kids ended up. And if I wasn't complaining about it, then whatever it was probably was pretty okay.

 

Oh, oh and I should mention the Crucible. The idea for the Crucible was very original and inventive and mind-twisty and something that every fantasy book probably aspires to have.

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review 2015-10-20 00:05
The Burning Sky ( Elemental Trilogy #1)
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas

 

Still a great read this second time around.


However, I decided to remove a star to its initial five star rating, because there were some things that could have been more developed.

For instance, in the last pages when Titus is flying the Wyvern and the Bane and Madame Inquisitor are on his tail, I couldn't "see" what he did to thwart them.As well as other parts of the world building that could have been more developed

(spoiler show)

 

Also I could have passed without the magical wands. -_-

What can I say? My mind immediately goes to Harry Potter.


"A messy business, rescuing princes." (pg 423)
________________

1rt read (16/02/2014)

I remember that the first time I saw this book's cover with the name Sherry Thomas on it, my first thought was something along the lines of: This must be a different writer!

But no, this is the work of author Sherry Thomas by whom I have read a number of historical romances by now.
 
BTW: I love mostly everything about them, the writing, the setting, the characters....perhaps with the exception of some of their *cough* heroes. (Those guys could drive a saint to ask for divorce!! Honestly, guys?
Less pride and grudge "time". Okay?)
 
But enough about historical romance. This is a fantasy work.

And what a fantastical, mind blowing imagination it contains on its 449 pages (+ Notes)!

The world building has a lot of potential to it. It took me a re-read to notice that it could have been more developed. Although the main thing, the "roots" they are well established.

 Then there's the characters who despite their fantastical nature, "felt and acted" as real as one could wish.
 
I was warned by friends that the first chapter could be a little trickier to get into.
I decided to take that as a challenge.
And it turns out that it was only trickier in the sense that us readers, have to move from a non magic world, to one full of magical adventures and engaging characters who have quests and challenges to fulfil.
 
In this story, there's magical books which are portals for magical places.
Places where some fairy tales exist amongst new and dark perils. Stories where people can die inside its pages...
 
There's a boy on a quest.
A young prince determined to fulfil his role in his family's prophecy.

Titus will stop at nothing, until the dark force that took over his land is stopped.
Not even if that means the death of him.
 
There's a girl who believed herself nothing more than an average mage...
But on a time that power draws power, Iolanthe will find out that she's much more than she thought possible.
 
The characters, like I said before, were masterfully created.
I loved how the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe evolved. The stages of it: The clash between them, the forced partnership, the reluctant admiration, until the unavoidable friendship. And yes, maybe love.
 
This story has such a perfectly complex _but done right and never boring! _ universe in it, that it was just amazing!!
 
The romance. It has one.
But it never obfuscates the plot, and the characters don't suddenly start acting like mindless typical ya zombie characters, whom you just want to see pushed of a cliff....
 
There's no insta love. No mushy declarations. Basically there's no idiocy involved.
Basically, this is a hundred percent tried and approved anti-BS book!!
 
So, if like me, you like books with strong plots, strong characters and a fluid writing, this story's for you!!
I loved it so much, that I don't even mind the waiting for the second book. You know why?
Because by the time the second is released, I'll just re-read this one again! ;)

 


 

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text 2015-10-19 14:52
Reading progress update: I've read 423 out of 449 pages.
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas

"A messy business, rescuing princes."

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review 2015-08-06 16:16
Review | The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
The Burning Sky - Sherry Thomas
Who knew that one ruined elixir could start a life of infinite danger? Iolanthe certainly did not, or she would have never attempted to fix that stupid potion. 
Controlling lightning and calling it to strike the potion seemed like a good idea at the time, it was a pretty important potion, but it caused all kinds of unwanted, and potentially fatal, attention to be cast on Iolanthe. Apparently, she is the greatest elemental mage of the generation, and everyone would like to take advantage of her. That would have definitely been good to know before she called down that darn lightning. 
Prince Titus was one of the many people surprised, impressed, and envious of that lightning strike. No one has been able to bend lightning to their will since the golden age of mages, which was hundreds of years ago. The powerful mage that accomplished this feat might be the only person who can help the prince fulfill the prophecy proclaimed by his mother. In order to complete his destiny, the prince must battle the corrupt, and immensely powerful, Bane who controls the prince's realm with a iron, bloody hand. 
In order for the plan to succeed, the mage and the prince must be willing to sacrifice everything to their cause. Unfortunately, Iolanthe and Titus do not exactly see eye to eye on this whole destiny thing.

 

 
The Burning Sky is pretty much everything I could hope for in a fantasy novel; great world-building with details that go above and beyond anything I could ask for, raw and lively characters who are prone to using sarcasm, and a plot that thickens throughout the whole story, sometimes without you even realizing until it is too late. 
 
One of the biggest hit or miss factors of a fantasy book for me is the world-building. There has to be just the right amount that I know what is going on, but not too much that I am bored to tears. Sometimes, it seems that authors go into textbook-writing mode when describing their world. While still informative, this droning method takes the fun out of the new world. 
 
The Burning Sky takes place in an alternate past where mages (kind of) coexisted with regular people. It included history and politics of the time. Some of it seems so realistic that I am start to wonder if it actually happened.....
 
Fortunately, most of the world-building in The Burning Sky was subtly woven into the dialogue, thoughts, and actions of the characters. This is my favorite kind of world-building, mostly because it does not involve paragraphs and paragraphs of seemingly endless facts and history about the world. It was more of a story than a textbook. The beautiful description, backstories, and prophecies illuminate the past, present, and even the future of the wondrous world this book is set in. 
 
There are also some pretty cool footnotes in the back of the book that enhance the world and its history. The little bits of awesomeness are written as excerpts from textbooks, newspapers, and magazines in the world of the book. They are full of insightful tidbits about the world, but are not necessary to understanding the story.
 
The characters were also a huge plus. Iolanthe was a fiery, strong-willed character who was supposed to be a major elemental mage but really did not want to accept that destiny. All she wanted was to live a normal life with her mentor and avoid conflict. But everything changed when she light up that elixir. To avoid being hunted down for her powers, she had to left with the Prince to his boarding school. An all boys boarding school. So, there was a little bit of a She's the Man situation as Iolanthe tries to fit in with non-magical boys. Then she figures out that the prince has a plan for her, a dangerous one at that. I admire Iolanthe's determination to be herself and somewhat reluctant choice to help the prince with his own destiny. 
 
The prince was also pretty great. He was everything a scorned, spoiled prince should be; stubborn, sarcastic, bossy, and narcissistic. But, he was also everything that a great love interest should be; sassy, gentle, kind, and selfless (not to mention handsome). My feelings for him changed throughout the novel as more was revealed about him. Thomas masterfully played with my perception of the prince and kept me on my toes. The chemistry (or dare I say magic) in their relationship was slow burning, but worth the wait.
 
The third factor that completes the trifecta of a perfect fantasy book is the plot. It must include mystery, action, betrayal, secrets, magic, love, loss, and intrigue. I am glad to say that The Burning Sky got all of these and more. The plot started slowly building along with the characters. More and more complications were introduced, my heart rate elevating with each magical addition. Before I knew it, the plot exploded with action and magic. 
 
Of course, like all good fantasy series, there were multiple problems left at the end to transition to the next book. I will definitely be reading The Perilous Sea to continue this magical journey with Iolanthe and Prince Titus.
 
I would recommend this amazing story to all fantasy fans. If you like action, magic, and new worlds, then you will love this book. I would also recommend it to fans of historical fiction fans. The setting of early 1800's colonies is incorporated into the story, along with the customs of the time.
 
This review was originally posted on my main blog, Crazy for YA.

 

Source: 4evercrazyforya.blogspot.com/2015/08/review-burning-sky-by-sherry-thomas.html
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