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Early Reaction to... BEA TITLE #1: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)

Let’s be real here: you could tell me either cover for THE BURNING SKY was making it to the publication wing and I’d do a shimmy around my house I love both so much. I’m a little partial to the first cover, maybe, as I think it really nails the depiction of the catalyst scene in the story, but I don’t mind the new one one bit. Let’s be even realer: who cares when this book is so darn awesome?

SUMMARY: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 revenge 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.

Iolanthe Seabourne may be one of the greatest elemental mages out there—to her constant surprise and somewhat remaining disbelief—but no one knows. Because to know of the depth of her gifts risks the attention of Atlantis—and it’s cold-blooded leader who is rumored to have collected mages like her over the years and never returned them to their homes. Iolanthe’s time, however, is coming, as it’s been foreseen. It’s watched for at the same hour every day by Prince Titus—a royal from a noble house that lacks true power who is eager to fulfill his prophetic mother’s wish and avenge his once great family. On the day in which Iolanthe is forced to restore a batch of elixir, at last Titus beholds the sign he’s waited his whole life for, and it begins.
A column of pure white light, so distant it was barely more than a thread, so brilliant it nearly blinded the the prince, burst into existence.
He stood mute and amazed for an entire minute before something kicked him hard in the chest, the realization that this was the very sign for which he had waited half his life.
Scared though he may be, unprepared though he might feel, Titus brings himself swiftly to action and to the charred mage left at the top of a blackened rooftop.

Prince Titus, however, is not the only one ready to whisk her away into the unknown. Servants of Atlantis—including the chilling Inquisitor—are on the hunt for the mage capable of such an event and will search every town, will interrogate every suspect until the girl is found. And so Titus does the only thing he can think of (and has already mostly planned for): he helps Iolanthe masquerade as a boy attending the non-magical all boys’ school he’s received his education from most of his life. With the Bane and his henchmen not far behind them, and with spies lurking about to sniff out their secrets, Titus must also be quick in convincing Iolanthe of her destiny—to face the most powerful mage of their time in battle alongside him—and prepare her for what’s to come.

But he can’t prepare for the one thing that could alter his plans—the attachment, the feelings that arise for the girl he’s devoted to protecting and committed to bringing with him to probable slaughter.

One moment we’re at Iolanthe’s door, watching her foolishly do something with no concept of the repercussions, and then we’re with her at the top of a building that holds a MASSIVE crater of late, breathing shakily as a terrifying thrill works through us layered over the anticipation of facing enemies she has no idea she has. Within the next moment, we’re vaulting to an unknown destination with a trunk as our vessel, unsure of what lies ahead. And then we’re with Titus in a Muggle-esque institution, holding our breaths because we’re all uncertain of Iolanthe’s ability to disguise herself well.

I constantly felt with them as the scenery changed, as the plot moved around to incorporate each obstacle. From ancient storybook training grounds (which is A LOT flyer than it sounds!) to inside the depths of the Inquisitor’s interrogation chambers, there is so much happening and so many different places gone through that the last thing THE BURNING SKY could be is boring. A little slow, maybe, but nonetheless fascinating overall.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s so much more difficult for me to get in touch with characters when we’re dealing with a third person narration. While on the one hand I like the versatility and the potential for diverse points of view, there’s this intrinsic distance that’s hard to shake off. After a while though, that ceased being a problem because of Iolanthe’s—without a better alternative in mind—realness. This girl is stubborn and fierce, but she’s not unbelievably righteous and brave, especially at the get when a certain royal stranger is talking about taking down the Bane, their unspoken dictator, all off of a prophecy spouted off by a self-proclaimed seer. Heck no, she doesn’t want to bring this guy down very likely at the cost of her life, and certainly not after her guardian risked his own to help her preserve hers. She’s got a good mix in her of practicality and genuine fear to be a believable heroine.
In her heart she was beginning to understand that it was truly written in the stars, her destiny. Yet it still seemed utterly impossible that she would ever find the audacity to face the Bane, she who had lived such a small life, so tightly focused only on the well-being of her own family.
Because, really, before The Incident nobody had any reason to suspect her of being capable of great elemental magic; she’s not being persecuted or pursued—at least she wasn’t—so what cause does she have to fight for? What would be her drive in this mad plot against the Bane? There’s not enough anger, not enough duty in her or a tie that could bring her into the fight—yet. She’s not where Titus is at—with a set goal, fighting for something because of the love he has for his mother, a love that ties him to the promise he made and that angers him enough to need to avenge her death.

But as these two grow closer, neither of them ever considering the possibility of that happening when their relationship is tenuously cordial at best in the beginning, they become these companions, friends—and almost more than—and that prevents them from driving apart in two directions. It’s very simple. If Titus needs to do this thing, Iolanthe will follow him; if Iolanthe will be in mortal danger doing so, Titus would give his own life to see this done without harm come to her. It becomes just a basic matter of accepting these as inarguable truths and how best to proceed and I LOVE THAT. There is so much room for potential between these two and they haven’t even hit the top of the jug yet, leaving me with bated breath over what could POSSIBLY happen between them.

  1. Archer Fairfax
  2. A Canary And The Tub
  3. The Crucible
  4. A Little Of Kashkari
  5. Meeting in Cape Wrath
I never get enough of good, solid, quite close to breathtaking fantasy to add the collection of awesome titles I’ve been privileged to read, and so I can barely express how much I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. With even stronger development, and more depth into the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe, I’m sensing this may end up as a special shelf series. BUT, I’m reserving judgment just now until I see what’s next.

Even so, this is a riveting mash-up of excellent writing, great characters, and fascinating world-building that's a little like a salute to Harry Potter—what else do you need? My only hope is that Thomas’s success continues in the next book in The Elemental Trilogy.

Hardcover / 464 pgs / Sept 17th 2013 / Balzer + Bray / Goodreads / $17.99

I acquired an ARC from Book Expo America at the Harper Collins booth.


Princess Ash said...

Oooh, I've heard mixed things about this one, and I've been concerned. I hope I like it too! Also, I'm a MUCH bigger fan of the original cover. *pouts*

I should really pay attention to third versus first person more. I don't think it makes a big difference for me in general, in that I can bond with characters either way, but I could be wrong. *ponders*

Princess Ash said...

I always have a slight problem with third person narration too (at least at first), though when I really think about it, a lot of my favourite books have been in third person. And OMG, Ash, you have made me SUPER excited about this one now. Which is saying something as I was pretty excited to begin with. It's on my August to-read list, though I might try to shift it up so I can get around to it sooner. Amazing review!

Princess Ash said...

For me this has the potential to be a great book, let alone a great series, but for now this is a solid start that I really enjoyed.

I've read few third persons that I really love and that help me FEEL for the characters. This one in BURNING SKY is pretty good,

Princess Ash said...

Yes, there are times when third persons surprise me. YES, SUCCESS. I want you to be excited about this one. I think you would enjoy this book, though I'm not sure if you'd love it or really like it like me. I hope you love it, my friend.

Princess Ash said...

Eeeeep,I've been looking out for your review of this one girl, cause I remember you said you'd read it early and enjoyed it. I am SO PUMPED that you loved this as much as you did :D I love where you said: ''I never get enough
of good, solid, quite close to breathtaking fantasy to add the
collection of awesome titles I’ve been privileged to read..'' I couldn't have said it better myself! Dying to read this one but I'll probably only get to it closer to the release date...soooo many BEA titles to catch up on. Not that I'm complaining XD Thanks for the epic review Asher!!

Princess Ash said...

Not gonna lie, I was disappointed when I saw this book because I love Sherry Thomas's historical romance novels and I wanted her to write me more of those however, I figured out that was pretty ridiculous of me and I should support an author I love no matter what plus the world doesn't revolved around me (how unfortunate) so I got over it. And thanks to your review and 10 things post, this book is now on my tbr and I can't wait to read it. Especially knowing there is a prince Guise. It is my DUTY as a Merlin fan to read this book. I can't fail Camelot.