Title – Author: The Burning Sky – Sherry Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Series/Standalone: Series – The Elemental Trilogy #1
Format – Source: ARC – Won from Goodreads
Iolanthe Seabourne has been prophesied as the greatest elemental mage in the world, the one destined to defeat the Bane, the tyrant of Atlantis. Prince Titus, whose fate has also been decided by prophecy, has sworn to protect Iolanthe and defeat Atlantis. But as the Inquisitor and her agents close in on them both, it becomes clear that both might have to sacrifice their lives to achieve their goals.
I wanted to love this book so much. It had all the signs of a “me book:” magic, romance, fights against evil, etc. I read so many reviews praising it that I thought for sure I was going to fall head over heels in love. That was not the case. Did I hate it? No, absolutely not. I was definitely interested and kept reading. I just didn’t love it as much as I thought I would.
My first issue was with the plot itself. I’m not a fan of using a prophesy to dictate characters’ actions. I think it takes away a lot of the characters’ agency. It makes everything too convenient, like why people meet and why they choose to do what they do. Like with Titus, he finds and hides Iolanthe because his mother prophesied about it. He trains her because a prophecy says she’s the most powerful mage ever. I just think the story would’ve been more interesting if Titus took up the fight against the Bane on his own, without a prophecy telling him he would. I wanted him to want to change the world, not just believe he would because it was already foretold. The catalyst that brings Titus and Iolanthe together (Iolanthe summoning a lightning bolt) was also foretold. It would’ve been more interesting if Titus had seen the lightning bolt and decided to investigate on his own and draw his own conclusions. All the parts are there for an exciting story, but I feel like much of the excitement was taken away because of the prophecy.
Of the two, I liked Titus more because he wasn’t the perfect prince. He’s totally willing to manipulate his way into getting what he wants. I loved his arrogant exterior that hid who he was beneath: someone bound to the duty of his destiny. Iolanthe starts off as extremely naive, but I appreciated how hard she worked at her training. She’s someone who doesn’t give up and who will protect her loved ones no matter what. Their romance comes close to instalove, but I liked how it developed. At first, Titus just wants to use Iolanthe and Iolanthe resents Titus. But they both come to see more in each other and rely on their friendship.
The world building is well done. There’s a distinct magic system with rules and spells that dictate what mages can do. There are three different settings: Eton in 19th century England (my favorite…we all know how I love boarding schools), Titus and Iolanthe’s magical country, and the Crucible, an alternate reality based on stories and Titus’s ancestors’ memories. There are complications in all three realms for Titus and Iolanthe.
I thought The Burning Sky was going to be a slam dunk for me. While I enjoyed it, it’s not my favorite fantasy.
6 – good but doesn’t have that wow factor – Mrs. Figg