Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: The Burning Sky

THE BURNING SKY
The Elemental Trilogy #1
Sherry Thomas
Young Adult/Fantasy
464 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (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.


MY THOUGHTS
The Burning Sky is a stunning fantasy, delighting us with the magic and the great mythological beasts that so define the genre while at the same time grounding us in the reality of a boys’ boarding school in 1880’s London, thus ensuring those of us who sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by sweeping fantasy stories have no trouble finding our way in this tale. There’s not a great deal of backstory as to how the unrest in the Domain (over which Prince Titus rules, if in name only) and the rise of the Bane came to be, but it simply doesn’t matter in this first installment, so caught up are we in the richness of the world and its gorgeously layered characters.

Iolanthe is a gem of a heroine, her humanity and her status as an Elemental Mage combining to give us a young woman who both feels like a friend–full of strengths and insecurities–and someone with a destiny we can’t even fathom as power we’ll never experience thrums through every fiber of her being. She’s not the type of girl to gracefully accept the revelation that she’s to play a mighty role in the fight to break Bane’s grasp on the Realm, instead she understandably panics and doubts Titus’s faith in her, but she only does so for a brief period of time before throwing herself body and soul into a fight she never knew was hers. She has an untold amount of power, but she never seeks to flaunt it or lord it over others, instead she’s receptive to Titus’s teaching and gives everything she has to learning to wield it with enough skill to keep her and her prince alive.

Titus is as strong a character as Iolanthe, a man who beautifully plays the arrogant, exceedingly entitled ruler of the Domain in public yet is someone very different in private, his duality never failing to make our eyes widen in wonder when we see how expertly he masks his fear. And he is right to fear, for he faces not only a terrifying foe in the Inquisitor, but also his own impending death as is prophesied by his mother as well as the reality that he may lose Iolanthe if he can’t teach her what she needs to know quickly enough. Only we and Iolanthe ever know of the beads of sweat that trickle down his back and the rapid beat of his heart though, making our relationship with him feel intimately poignant.

While one might say there is romance in The Burning Sky, the word romance simply doesn’t do the relationship between Iolanthe and Titus justice. It’s more than affection or sexual tension, it’s genuine friendship, trust, and the shared knowledge that the two of them together stand between the complete fall of the Realm. There’s a certain gravity to their every interaction, even the lighthearted ones, that draws us in, witnesses to the beginning of something truly beautiful. One of the highlights of their relationship is the honesty between them, due in part to their desire to work together but also to an inescapable blood oath, but for all that they must speak the truth to one another, there are secrets in their silences; quiet moments where they tuck their feelings tight to their chests, not yet ready to be as vulnerable as their admission would make them.

Overall, The Burning Sky should not be missed, entertaining us every step of the way until we reach an end that is thankfully free of dreaded cliffhangers, but yet leaves us salivating for the next book just the same.

Rating: 4.5/5
 

Find Sherry:


This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

46 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds great. I've been hearing lots of good things about this. The "romance" sounds really good. The way you describe it reminds me of Grave Mercy.

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    1. I just loved this book to pieces Alison, highly recommend!

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  2. I am glad you loved this! For some reason I had a really hard time getting past the first few chapters and didn't enjoy it as much. I think I just wasn't use to the writing style.
    Lovely review Jenny!

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    1. It won't be for everyone Ali! There's a lot happening in the beginning, but I just loved Iolanthe and Titus:)

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  3. This one sounds like a book for me :D

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  4. "There's a certain gravity to their every interaction" --> LOVE this, Jenny! I'm so excited to read it now, especially as so many readers have adored it and I'm a huge fantasy fan! Lovely review!

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    1. I loved the interactions between them Keertana, they were heavy and light at the same time, and I can't wait to see what happens with them in the future:)

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  5. This is like the second praising review I've read for this book this week and there was me before completely overlooking this fantastic book. I love how you've described the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe, its exactly what I want in my books these days! Thank you for another beautiful review Jenny and for adding another brilliant book to my tbr! :)

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    1. SO GOOD JASPRIT! I hope you give it a try, I can't recommend it enough.

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  6. Jenny, this sounds fantastic! I'm always on the lookout for awesome high fantasy and this sounds exactly like it. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Thank you so much! I hope you love it as much as I did:)

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  7. Ah you people aren't good for my wallet. I mean when you review a fantasy book like this my mouse goes to TBD bookmark on itself. :D I love the sound of it and it seems to me like it has everything a good fantasy novel should have :) The relationship here sounds so good! I need to have this. Great review Jenny :)

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    1. I feel your pain Tanja, my wallet hates me every single day, but I it's so much fun to find new books!

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  8. Yes, yes, yes! I read and absolutely LOVED this one! I can't wait to post my review because after a book like the one I reviewed today (wink, wink), I needed a great read! It's definitely a fantastic addition to the world of YA fantasy. Fantastic review, Jenny!

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    1. Wasn't it so good?! I loved every single second of it:) Can it please be time for book 2?

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  9. You had me sold within the first few sentences, Jenny! Am adding this to my list now. :)

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    1. YES! I WIN AT LIFE! Or at convincing people to try books of awesome:)

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  10. Ummm this sounds amazing and epic. Thanks for the review...adding this to my list!

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    1. YAY! I thought it was very much amazing and epic:)

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  11. *sigh of relief* No cliffhanger? Praise baby Jesus!

    All of my favorite people are loving this book and giving it rave reviews, which almost makes me a but hesitant to read it. But I have been craving a fantasy tale for awhile, so I think I'll be reading this one very soon!

    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. Right? I could have done a happy dance at the end because there was no cliffhanger:) Please read this!!!

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  12. Jenny, just wow, what a stunning review! I picked up an ARC of The Burning Sky at BEA this year, but passed it along to one of my co-bloggers. Fantasy books can be hit or miss with me, especially high fantasy. I wasn't sure if I'd really enjoy this one, and I'm not one to hold on to a book (no matter how pretty the cover) if there's someone else who could enjoy it more. It does sound really good, especially the character of Titus. He seems very complex and I have a weakness for arrogant characters with a side of vulnerable.

    Thank you for reviewing this, I might have to put it back on my TBR after all :)

    Ooh, and hows watching Supernatural going?! Wait till you get to the series with Castiel! You are going to LOVE him!!

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    1. Thank you Evie!!! I'm normally not a huge fantasy person, I get overwhelmed by the worlds, but this was fabulous and the characters were brilliant.

      Oh, and I'm loving Supernatural. I'm 13 episodes into season 1. Love me some Sam and Dean:)

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  13. Great review! (And thanks for reminding me I need to finish mine!) I did like how the trust grew between Iolanthe and Titus, after such terrible mistrust in the beginning.

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    1. Yes, I loved how things developed with them and I can't wait to see how things continue to grow between them in the next book!

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  14. You know Jenny, if you would have reviewed it about two weeks ago, or even a week ago for that matter, I would have been able to have read your review, what I believe is yet another gorgeous one by you. However, now that I already ordered myself a hardcover copy after all of my favorite people (with the addition of you now ;)) have loved it to pieces and I just can't wait to read it. I love the premise, but now that I'm close to possibly reading it very very soon, I don't risk in knowing anything I remember from previous reviews I've read. Which isn't that much lol. Anyhow, when I'm done with this book, we can discuss :D heh. Glad you loved it!!!

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    1. Haha I understand Siiri! We'll definitely have to chat about it when you finish. I hope you love it as much as I did!

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  15. Stunning review, you have me drooling and I love that it also has a boys’ boarding school in 1880’s London in the setting, between that and the world building I am giddy!

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    1. Thanks so much Kim! I loved how this book was divided between the Realm and the human world, it just made it easier to relate to and so easy to get caught up in:)

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  16. When I saw you had you review up I couldn't wait to read it! So happy you enjoyed it. Wasn't it just awesome!

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  17. I loved Titus and his duality! I'm glad you loved this book as much as I did, I can't wait to see where things go in the next book!

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    1. I really, really need book 2 Candace. I want back in this world asap!

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  18. GAH! This sounds fab and I don't have it! Oh you make the world and these characters sound so amazing! Then you have to seal the deal by telling me there is no cliffie! WHEEEEEEEEE! Oh yes!! I must have!

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  19. I REALLY REALLY need book 2, also, Jenny & Candace!! Wasn't book 1 just fantastic? I loved the two main characters -- so different and so amazing.

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  20. What a fabulous review, Jenny! I'm so excited for this book. I've been craving for a great fantasy read. The characters sound phenomenal. I can't wait to meet them. :)

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  21. I love meeting the true stuggling guy! Fabulous review!!!! Fantastically written! I sure need to read The Buning sky.

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  22. I am such a huge fan of fantasy, but I'm glad this is anchored in something familiar. Iolanthe and Titus both sound like amazing characters, it'll be easy enough to love them both and enjoy their dinamic. I also loved the sentence Keertana pointed out, btw. :)

    Gorgeously written as always, Jenny! You ruin us for other reviewers.

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  23. I'm 30% through this novel and agree with almost everything youve said . Great review as always Jenny

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  24. What a beautiful review, Jenny! I loved this book so much too. I already had high hopes when I went into the book, but the book managed to really blow me away. I love how you described Iolanthe as more than just a heroine. She definitely felt like a friend to me too. Also, Titus was so well-crafted! I loved what a complex character he was. Your description of the romance is perfect. It was so much more than just attraction!
    Fabulous review, Jenny. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Burning Sky!

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  25. YES! Finally a book in a series with a complete story and no cliffhanger! This is the it book right now in the fantasy genre, but I was surprised that it turned out to be historical. Nevertheless, I love the relationship between Iolanthe and Titus and to see how truthful they are with each other is a rarity in itself. Great review, Jenny! I can't wait to buy this book.

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  26. "It’s more than affection or sexual tension, it’s genuine friendship, trust, and the shared knowledge that the two of them together stand between the complete fall of the Realm." This is absolutely my favorite sort of relationship! I'm reading this now but I couldn't resist peeking at your review since you never really do spoilers. Can't wait to dive back into this tomorrow! Lovely review :-)

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  27. This is a long book, Jenny, but it does sound really good. I'm sure I'd be examining every word between these two trying to figure out the romance. Lovely review, Jenny! Another one I'm adding to the list! :)

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  28. Great review dear!
    I nominated you for the Shine On Award :)
    http://unaeve.blogspot.com/2013/10/nomination-for-shine-on-award.html

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  29. I've got this one in my TBR pile, Jenny, and am excited to read it. I really like that the romance is based on a strong friendship. And yay for no cliffhangers :)

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