The Elemental Trilogy #2
Balzer + Bray
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
The Perilous Sea is a story that both embraces and eschews familiar middle book elements, taking us on an epic journey with Iolanthe and Titus but at the same time leaving us standing on the precipice of something much larger, looking back and wondering what exactly happened to get us to this point. As with The Burning Sky, we start this second installment on slightly rocky footing given there is very little recap of the significant names and events of book one, and we also find our story divided into two separate timelines: One at present with Titus and Iolanthe reuniting at Eton, and one seven weeks into the future where an amnesiac version of both our protagonists await us. As a result, the opening chapters and a fair bit beyond are rather chaotic as we struggle to remember The Burning Sky as well as orient ourselves within the split narrative.
The present-day chapters are the ones that feel most familiar, the setting of the all-boys school beckoning us into the story with all the comforts of a reality we recognize just as it did in the first book, allowing us to pair back up with Titus and Iolanthe as they figure out their next steps toward defeating the Bane. The Sahara Desert chapters however, while providing fun moments full of banter and humor given Titus and Iolanthe don't remember one another, seem to serve very little purpose in terms of the overall story arc. Their time in the desert is entirely spent running from the agents of Atlantis, allowing the magical aspects of this fantasy story their time in the spotlight but ultimately leading us to question whether or not this detour of flight and sand is actually moving the plot forward.
Aside from feeling like a middle book in terms of building us up only to leave us on the last page at the moment we've been waiting for the entire time, The Perilous Sea also sees the dissolution of Titus and Iolanthe as a couple when Titus begins to delve deeper into his mother's prophetic visions. Though we initially can't help but let a sigh of frustration escape at the well-used plot device, Ms. Thomas wins us back over with the strength of her characters, as neither Titus nor Iolanthe are individuals prone to dramatics. They both bear their separate but shared pain stoically, not taking it out on the other person as is so often the case, and thankfully not turning to someone else to comfort them in their time of need. Though things are up in the air in terms of the romance for much of the book, there's no introduction of a new love interest, and our two protagonists remain pillars of support for each other to lean on as well as sounding boards off which to bounce ideas and theories.
Overall, The Perilous Sea meanders a bit, sending us out into the desert for half the book when nearly all the important revelations about the Bane's plans take place in the present-day chapters, leaving us to wish for a slightly different format for this second installment. That being said however, the characterization is as strong as ever and the pieces of the Bane puzzle that finally lock into place in the concluding chapters have us ready to usher 2015 in immediately just so we'll be that much closer to the release of book three.
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.