Having grown up on high fantasy that features magic, dragons, wyverns, and Atlantis, I was eager to request and accept this book for review even knowing that it was the first book in a new trilogy. Set in 1883 England as well as an alternate reality, The Burning Sky is the story of two main protagonists: Iolanthe Seabourne and Prince Titus of Elberon.
Living under the auspices of her guardian, Master Haywood, who has tried his best to not only keep her safe but out of the public eye where she could be taken away, 16 year old Iolanthe is an elemental mage who has the ability to wield the four elements. She's especially good with fire magic which leads her to experiment with lightning thus brings about unwanted attention from the Atlanteans who rule the land and are on the lookout for powerful elemental mages like Iola. Iola is a character that I immediately fell in love with and wanted to know more about. I loved her courage, her strength, her determination and feistiness, and how she stands up against others including bullies. I loved how she didn’t immediately fall head over heels with Titus, and I loved that she found friendship among the boys at Eton College while disguised as Archer Fairfax.
Prince Titus is also 16 years old and the Master of the Domain. He has read the prophecies left behind by his mother, where he will someday find a great elemental mage that can lead his people to freedom away from the tyranny of the Atlanteans. When he sees the burning sky, he knows that the prophecy is true and he needs to find the person responsible fast before (HE) is taken away and used by Bane, the leader of the kingdom Atlantis. Imagine his surprise when Titus finds that Iola is the one responsible and thus the prophesied savior of his kingdom. I didn’t immediately connect with Titus. I found him to arrogant and a bit overzealous in his determination to use Iola even if she didn’t agree with him immediately. Later, I found him rather interesting in how he creates a unique world and challenges Iota to work hard to learn how to control her abilities and the elements and genuinely seems to care about her.
I imagine that The Burning Sky will get a whole bunch of comparisons to Harry Potter with its magic, and the foretelling of a prodigy that can defeat “he who shall not be named.” I found myself thinking of the comparisons as I was reading the book especially about the character known as Bane who just won’t go away no matter how hard you try to kill him.
Much of The Burning Sky takes place at Eton College where Iola hides her identity among a school filled of boys and does an extraordinary amazing job of fitting in and finding friends. I liked the secondary characters as well but probably the one that probably stuck out most to me was Kashkari who has his own story to tell for which I won’t spoil.
I found The Burning Sky to be a captivating story and have no problem in reading the sequel. Naturally, there will be those who will only talk about the romance angle between Titus and Iola, so I won’t waste a whole lot of time talking about it. It is what it is. Two extraordinary individuals who find themselves tied together in an effort to defeat a people who have ruled over them for way too long. Two Thumbs way up!
Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for a review copy of this book.
Author - Sherry Thomas
Title - The Burning Sky
Publisher - Harper Collins (Balzer + Bray)
Releases - September 17, 2013
Genre - YA, Fantasy