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review 2017-09-10 13:57
First entry shows promise!
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

Decided it was time to switch things up a bit and read something a little different. Had this book for awhile now and decided it was time to finally read up on it. As a fan of the 'Avatar: the Last Airbender' and 'The Legend of Korra' as well as enjoying Jim Dresden's 'Codex Alera' series this trilogy that has elemental magic seemed like a good option.

 

Iolanthe is a young woman who has been living her life doing magic with a drunk guardian when she is plunged into an adventure where she must destroy the Bane, a tyrant who seeks to control all. She meets Prince Titus, the ruler (in name, really) of the land and who needs Iolanthe to defeat the Bane to restore peace to the land as foreseen by his mother's visions.

 

Admittedly typing that out made it sound like a cliched, well-worn trope-filled story and it is. It's not a story that hasn't been done before and admittedly Thomas' entry isn't exactly a unique take. But all the same I found myself enjoying the story anyway. There are familiar aspects to this (romance between Iolanthe and Titus, training sequences, can the two main characters learn to trust each other) but all the same it was still a pleasant adventure. I enjoyed the sequences where Iolanthe must play Titus's male classmate (he had actually been expecting a young man).

 

That said, I understand the criticisms. The world-building isn't great (there's no map!) the elemental magic isn't as well-defined as say it is in Dresden's books or the Avatar universe and I could have really done without the romance.The romance was subtle (it's also limited to looks and thoughts and occasional kisses but as a YA series it doesn't go further than that) but it's never my cup of tea. The book is also quite slow. Having read a few other of Thomas's books (including her historical romances and the first in the Charlotte Holmes series) I could see this book would be somewhat similar--more focus on the characters and not so much on the action.

 

Still, I liked it. I suppose it's really a 3.5 star book but I decided to round up. I had been put off by some of the negative reviews and experience from her previous work but I think recognizing it's quite different from her other writings in terms of genre (YA, fantasy) helped. This won't be the next great YA trilogy but as a mashup of the Avatar universe with the latter part of the Harry Potter series (where Hogwarts and schooling became less of a focus) I enjoyed it. I bought this first book and will likely buy the next two as they're relatively cheap and in paperback but the library is probably a better option for others.

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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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