The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother’s visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he 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 tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission – and her life.
The Burning Sky – the first book in the Elemental Trilogy – is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.
First Sentence: Fire was easy.
I’ve heard a lot about The Burning Sky, which was talked about throughout the blogosphere. Some bloggers really liked it, which immediately captured my attention because hey, just look at that stunning cover! I was honestly still iffy about the book though because books with gorgeous covers usually end up disappointing me, badly. In the end, I’m surprised and happy to say that I really enjoyed reading The Burning Sky, despite its few problems.
The first thing everybody should know is that The Burning Sky uses several footnotes that appears throughout the book. But here’s the thing: unlike regular footnotes, the footnotes doesn’t appear at the bottom of the page the footnote appears in. Instead, the footnotes are in a Notes section at the back of the book. I have to admit, it was quite annoying to flip back and forth while reading. Although, on the plus side, the footnotes at the back of the book was entertaining to read about because it’s written like a textbook with a brief history of the subject and sometimes even definitions.
There existed something in this world that bound a mage tighter than a blood oath: love. Love was the ultimate chain, the ultimate whip, and the ultimate slave driver. (286)
And that leads me to talk about The Burning Sky‘s fantastic worldbuilding. Everything in Sherry Thomas’ world is fully explained – I literally did not have any questions left on the worldbuilding. Sherry Thomas explained how magic worked in the world she created, how the society of the mages and nonmages worked, the different powers/elements mages can have, and who has all the power in such a society. When Sherry Thomas introduces a new part of her world that I didn’t know about, it is explained almost right away in the next paragraph or in the back of the book where the Notes section is.
As for Sherry Thomas’ writing, it is just so…grown-up. I don’t know how else to describe it. I feel like her writing is meant for older kids to read and understand. (By older kids, I mean like kids a little older than twelve or thirteen.) It’s really surprising that Sherry Thomas writes like that since her author biography says that she had “immigrated to the United States from China when she was thirteen and taught herself English in part by devouring science fiction and romance novels.” Teaching yourself English definitely takes a lot of skills to do. On second thought, maybe it’s just the font of the book that makes me think that her writing is so grown-up. I dunno.
Did he wish daily – hourly – that he’d been born someone else, and not burdened with this crushing purpose? She would, but she could not tell about him. His true emotions were buried at the depth of an ocean trench, undetectable to anyone but himself. (214)
The character that stood out the most in the book was Titus. He is such a complicated character. In the beginning, I hated him with a passion. He was so selfish and manipulative – two factors that did not bide well for me in anyone. However, as I read on and got to know him more, I slowly grew to understand him and why he does the things he does. I understood him so much that I started to sympathize with him. Yeah, Titus may seem to be a jerk in the beginning, but he redeems himself – a lot.
I also love that the romance between Iolanthe and Titus isn’t insta-love. Their romance developed slowly, but surely before they officially fell for each other. In fact, one of them hated the other one with a passion before they fell in love. (I think you can put together who hated who from the last paragraph.) Iolanthe and Titus’ sweet moments had me grinning like a fool while I was reading – a fact that did not bide well for me since I was reading it on a crowded train. I wonder what people were thinking when they saw me like that. Thank goodness the cover isn’t anything that just screamed ROMANCE!
“Fall in love with me.” He heard, loud and clear, the words the truth serum compelled from him. “If you loved me, everything would be so much easier.” (272)
However, my biggest problem with The Burning Sky is that there are sentence fragments scattered throughout the book. Some of these sentence fragments didn’t make sense at all while I was reading, making me re-read that same sentence over and over again, trying to make sense of the sentence. As a result, the sentence fragments disrupted the flow of the book while I was reading it. It was kind of annoying to see that happen more than once.
Overall, The Burning Sky exceeded my not-so-high expectations (I still feel guilty about that) by a lot. It’s too bad about the whole sentence fragments thing though, or else I would have definitely given The Burning Sky a very high 4-star rating. I will definitely continue on with reading this series. (In case you don’t know, this is a nudge for you to read The Burning Sky too.)