Tune back in tomorrow when Sherry Thomas stops by to answer a few qustions on her The Burning Sky blog tour!
The Burning Sky
Balzer + Bray
I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Releases September 17, 2013
YA / Fantasy / Magic
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.
I honestly can’t fathom a fantasy book with any more incongruent fantasy tropes all smashed together into a whole. You have magic carpets with travel by book! Element bending and dragons! Magic wands and Pegasi! Steampunk-ish goggles and flying golden chariots! Mystical visions and immersive faerie tale training grounds for dragon slaying! Cricket and cross dressing!
Okay, maybe those last two aren’t fantasy tropes per se, but they are just two of the many things, when put on a list together, appear to be the results of throwing darts at a board of fantasy elements from other wide ranging epic worlds. With so many of these elements thrown at me early on, it was a little different to get comfortable with The Burning Sky, but don’t get me wrong – this is a fun book if you don’t think too much on the holograms in Victorian England parlors or there is an industrial potions conglomerate for all your potion needs.
Of course it starts with a wayward girl who is the Chosen One – the best elemental mage to ever walk the Earth and she doesn’t even know it yet. After a particularly stunning accidental demonstration of her strength, the leader of the realm – a grumpy conceited teenage prince – swoops in to be her mentor and figuratively hold her hand on her impending journey. Together they must learn to trust each other to take down the big bad overlords of Atlantis that is led by a seemingly immortal evil doer conveniently named the Bane.
The Burning Sky is nothing new and I fear my sarcasm is leading to the impression that I didn’t enjoy the book because I really did. Iolanthe is naïve, but smart and quick on her feet. Despite being the so-called Chosen One to bring down the bad guys, she’s really only the lead character until she’s turned into a canary halfway through and we get to follow the exploits of Prince Titus of Elberon.
Oh Prince Titus, how you became so amazing at plotting long term plans of deceit while maintaining the façade of being a complete dick, I will never understand. This kid thinks of everything except how to deal with things when everything doesn’t go as he has planned. He has a temper, regularly set off by Iolanthe, but that’s really because he hearts her so much and doesn’t understand why. He is a master of using magic to tailor clothes, which is a little weird, but then he rides wyverns and has great sky battles and says snarky things that make me smile.
There is some moments of awkward attraction, but romance is kept to the background to focus on the plotting, the magic and the cricket matches. Thomas’ writing fits well with the fast-paced action as well as the tension-filled nail biter scenes when our good guys are on the verge of being found out. She has a knack for repartee and gives Titus a balance between the snarky standoffishness of his personality and the blatant conceited disinterest that he puts on as a mask for the public.
There isn’t anything new in The Burning Sky, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a really fun adventure with characters I could spend a lot more time with. The relationships feel genuine and the world – though it feels a little hodgepodge created at the beginning – begins to gel as the universe’s rules are set in place. Iolanthe and Titus make a great pair with Iolanthe often swooping in to save the Prince, which is always nice in my book. The conclusion is satisfying for this portion of the journey, but it’s clear that there are even bigger things ahead for the pair further into the series.
I just hope Thomas gives us the satisfaction of “seeing” the boarding school boys’ reactions when they find out their star cricket player is really a girl.
I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. These are all my own opinions.