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review 2017-09-24 13:57
Letdown of an ending.
The Immortal Heights (Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

So, here we are at the end of another adventure. Iolanthe and Titus are now joined by friends and allies for one Final Battle vs. the Bane with lives at stake, a prophecy to fulfill and the fate of the world resting in the balance. But the Bane has a twist. Titus must give up Iolanthe to the Bane or it is the end of the world as we know it. You know, as is standard with these epic YA fantasy trilogies. 

 

Anyway, I had hoped that after book 2 this book might pick up a bit more and in a way it does. Thankfully the strange split perspective was not repeated and this is more in the vein of the storytelling style of book one. And we are plunged right into the action but unfortunately a lot doesn't really "happen" until the closer to the climax of the book. We've got a few twists and turns, bits and pieces of plot twists, info dump on the Bane and how he came to exist, etc. 

 

In some ways the book felt like it was a bit too rushed and yet not that much happened. Thomas's books tend to be slow in build-up and sometimes are slow overall but I just couldn't help but feel that there wasn't enough material for three books (hence what is basically rehashing of the love story in book 2) and yet there was too much saved for this last book (sacrifices, information revealing motives, origins, etc.). This might have made for a better duology than stretched out as trilogy. I also wanted more elemental magic. I was also partially right in how they managed to fulfill one of the prophecies while not actually doing so. It was a bit disappointing that I was on the right track for the device used, even if it didn't quite happen the way I thought it would.

 

But I will say I was glad Thomas didn't force a love triangle. Too many YA books use that as a crutch or plot device and I'm glad we didn't have any nonsense with these Iolanthe and Titus. Arguably this device was transferred to some of the secondary characters but it wasn't a major plot point to take up much space. There was also a bit of throw-ins mentioning some LGBT relationships that just felt a bit tacked-on for no reason whatsoever.

 

Overall a mixed bag and I'll probably make it a point to borrow her books from now on instead of buying. But this was something a little different and I enjoyed the ride.

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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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text 2016-04-09 16:43
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Immortal Heights (Elemental Trilogy) - Sherry Thomas

stayed up to 3 in the morning finishing this amazing book...well worth the lack of sleep!

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text 2015-11-10 13:00
In which I try to read ALL THE BOOKS!

 

 

Another of Ani's Bookish First World Problems...

 

 

Okay, so these aren't all the books that are on my most recent TBR, but they are two books that wormed their way onto my currently chaotic TBR.  Between two books that just pinged on my library holds as well as my Reading Assignment Challenge books and also one other book release this month that I really, really, really want to read, my TBR for October was already quite full...

 

Then Career of Evil pinged on my library hold request last week while I was in the middle of two other books.  And then I finished those two other books and realized that I needed to be gearing up for the release of Winter... 

 

And then I don't know where else I'm going with this rambling, but basically:  I wanted to read both books, I didn't know which one to start first, I decided just to start both and see where that leads me.

 

I could have just read Winter and then gone on to read Career of Evil, but I just checked my e-book library page and realized that I'm holding up a waiting list of 7 other patrons who would also like to check this book out... and I suddenly feel kind of bad for that so I want to get this book read.  Also, I don't want to be put back on the hold list while it just seems to be getting longer.

 

And also, with an intro like this:

 

Robin laid her oblong package on the desk, took off her coat and hung it, with her bag, on a peg behind the door, turned on the light, filled and switched on the kettle, then reached for the sharp letter-opener on her desk.  Remembering Matthew's flat refusal to believe that it had been flanker Jacques Burger's curly mane she had been admiring, rather than Strike's short and frankly pube-like hair, she made an angry stab to the end of the package, slit it open and pulled the box apart.

 

A woman's severed leg had been crammed sideways in the box, the toes of the foot bent back to fit.

 

I'm inclined to continue reading this book to the end without having to take a long hold break due to a long waiting list.

 

Just sayin'.

 

As for why I couldn't wait to read Winter at a later time... I just couldn't.

 

The other books I'm dying to get my hands on and start reading right now:

 

 

Yeah... why haven't I started these yet?  One of them is sitting on my shelf that I picked up from the library last week.  The other, I'm planning on purchasing anyway since I already have the first two books in the trilogy.

 

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