The Burning Sky
(The Elemental Trilogy #1)
By: Sherry Thomas
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Page Count: 464 pages
Audience: Young Adult Fantasy
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas was an original and, for the most part, exciting ride. Slow in some spots, hard to follow in others, great characters and an interesting story line that thrilled in the other spots...I found myself equally on the fence with this one. While this story was full of magic and fantastical backdrops and characters that I did come to care about and root for, I did get hung up on some things too...such as the writing style and the pacing (not throughout but here and there.)
Iolanthe Seabourne is a mage...an elemental mage to be exact...prophesied to perhaps become the greatest and most powerful mage of all time...powerful enough to take down an evil ruler. The Bane, the current most powerful mage, is after her to become even more powerful and ensure his longevity. But her destiny is wrapped up in Prince Titus’s, the young monarch figure-head and only living family member left from the House of Elberon and the one destined to overthrow the Bane alongside Iolanthe. The catch is that they both will likely not live to tell about it.
I adored both Iolanthe and Titus. Iolanthe was a strong willed yet sheltered 16 year old girl brought up in a magical mage realm by her seemingly self-destructive guardian. After learning the reasons why she was so carefully protected, I felt her sense of powerlessness and futility. But she did fight her destiny--and Titus--tooth and nail at first...and I found that both admirable and plausible. But it was hard to deny the pull...and as it turned out, she had more than one reason to participate in her role in her newly learned fate.
Titus, like many leading men in stories, put up a cocky, disinterested and self-absorbed personna because he believed that friends and relationships were not truly part of his future and would only provide a distraction he couldn't afford. But after learning this front was all an act and we got to see the real Titus--his heart-felt emotions and vulnerabilities--I have to admit he had me swooning just a bit!
His and Iolanthe’s relationship was complicated as they both had their doubts throughout whether the prophecies were in fact true, and whether they even wanted to do this. Titus spent his whole life preparing for this upcoming event, along with his eventual demise, virtually thinking of every little variable...but was still blindsided when it was discovered that Iolanthe was the key he was looking for. Iolanthe, reasonably, resisted her role in all of this and it was quite evident how much she despised Titus upon the revelation feeling manipulated and betrayed...but some say that love and hate are very close bed-fellows...and that would be true in their case.
Although they didn’t really have key roles in the prophecy, the school chums, for the most part, were great supporting characters...especially Wintervale and Kashkari. I did find that I couldn’t quite comprehend just how evil the Bane really was. We were told he and his regime were oppressive and unfair, but we didn’t quite get to witness his might...so I felt a little underwhelmed once he appeared in person. Conversely, the Inquisitor was most definitely evil and I wanted to see her taken down! I figured if she was the Bane’s puppet and enforcer, then we could extrapolate his force but I couldn’t help being more fearful of the Inquisitor over the Bane in this instalment.
Although not a character, the magical Crucible--a book based on popular fairytales, with Titus’s personal touches--was both fantastical and terrifying while it also provided the training grounds for both Iolanthe and Titus to exercise their powers to fruition.
I guess where the story lost some points for me was the writing style. I had no trouble with the switching of perspectives...in fact, I quite liked how it gave us a well-rounded picture of what was going on with the two characters when they weren’t together--keeping the pace moving. The writing was just hard to absorb for me. I like to read and get lost in a story but when I have to stop to review a chunk of pages at a time to try to comprehend what was happening, it quite killed some of that enjoyment. And while I love learning new vocabulary...maybe a word or two per story...having to stop and look up several also distracted the flow of the story for me. I don’t know if that was entirely necessary to throw in so many words that are seldom used.
I think I want to continue on with this story. There was a satisfying conclusion with a few threads left hanging to carry the story further. Perhaps reading it again at a later date might help me appreciate the author’s writing style more.
I’d like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to read this story before its release. I still think this is a worthwhile read and am interested in what many of you think about it, as well.
Summary From Goodreads:
It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
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.