The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning SkyThe Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Published by: Balzer & Bray on September 17, 2013
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 464
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★

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.

I liked The Burning Sky but it didn’t wow me like I hoped it would. Before starting it, I read tons of reviews that raved about this book. People compared it to Harry Potter and went on and on about how fabulous it was. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think The Burning Sky was a bad book by any means, I just didn’t love it.

I did really like the magic elements of The Burning Sky. There are varying levels of elemental mages, which are categorized according to how many different elements they can control. Iolanthe is like “the chosen one”. She has the potential to be a “great” elemental mage, control all the elements, and “save the world” (or kill the Bane). I really liked the aspect of controlling the elements, especially fire and lightning!

I think my first problem with the book was the characters; I never loved any of them. I just lacked that connection with them. I don’t think either of them were annoying, I just didn’t get invested in their fates or relationships. And I think this problem got even worse when a small romance developed between Iolanthe and Titus. I didn’t sense any chemistry between them and a few scenes were a bit weird… View Spoiler »

I also felt a general lack of intensity throughout all of The Burning Sky. I never felt like things were heating up or getting intense. The book never made me feel excitement, nervousness, or anticipation. Although parts of the plot were interesting, they just weren’t delivered in a very exciting or suspenseful way.

The Burning Sky was also loaded with paradoxes. Titus’s mother was a seer so she had visions of the future, which she recorded in her diary. I know there are tons of paradox issues with seeing the future in general (it happens all the times in movies/books), but they really stood out to me in The Burning Sky. For example, Titus’s mother had this one vision of a woman writing something in the margin of a book. She kept seeing the vision over and over again, until she finally realized that the woman was her. Then, years later, Titus’s mother found herself looking at that same book, so remembering the vision, she wrote that same note in the margin of the book. But, then, she only actually wrote that note because she already saw herself do it in the vision. If she hadn’t seen the vision, she never would have written it because she didn’t have that knowledge. So where did the knowledge of what to write come from? MIND.FUCKED.

I know I’m doing a lot of complaining, but again, The Burning Sky wasn’t a bad book. It has a good villain (or two), an interesting story, and some great world building (mostly). I loved the wyverns, the spells, the non-magic school, and the whole idea of the Crucible was pretty cool. I felt those things were extremely well developed, and in general there were a lot of really interesting ideas woven into this magical world. But on the other hand, there were a lot of things that just weren’t explained. (We learn next to nothing about the Bane, or how the magical world works with the non-magic one, etc.)

Ultimately the book just never completely won me over; I always felt a bit.. indifferent. I wasn’t attached to the characters and the plot lacked a certain degree of suspense and excitement. As a result, it took me several days to finish it just because I was never that hooked on it. And when I have no problem putting a book down for long periods of time, that’s an immediate a sign that I’m not loving it. Also, the end… very anti-climactic.

I think that if it weren’t for my mild indifference, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more. So if fantasy is really your thing, then I’d encourage you to give The Burning Sky a chance!

The Verdict


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  1. This is such a good review! Seriously.
    I have been interested in reading The Burning Sky ever since I saw it on someone’s Waiting on Wednesday post. It just looks like the kind of book I could fall in love with.
    I can TOTALLY understand the mind-screwery with that writing scene, haha. I shall look forward to reading that part, just so I can be all: NOW I know exactly what Ashley was talking about 😛
    Although there seems to be a few problems with this book, I am still pretty keen to read it. I love seeing how my opinions compare to fellow book bloggers.
    Anyway, great job 😀

    1. I hope that you end up loving it, Chiara! I know a lot of people who gave this book 5 stars and absolutely adored it. Maybe that will be you!

  2. Oh no, when the characters aren’t good, it turns me off from the book as a whole, no matter how good the plot is. And even the plot here doesn’t sound that great. Sigh, guess I’ll be skipping this one, lol. Great review!

    Vivian recently posted: On Repeat [2]
  3. Oh no – too bad really! I Loved this book so so much! And I felt the chemistry between Iolanthe and Titus, but yeah, sometimes what one feels it’s not what another feels.

    But yeah, I totally agree about the time travel/see the future kind of things, they always drive me nuts and I could perfectly live without them lool!

  4. Ooo I love getting mindfucked by books 😀 😀 But hmmm about the romance and the book not being very intense and exciting, I feel when it comes to high fantasy it’s really important for your reader to anticipate the events in the book so that is unfortunate 🙁 I think I’ll still give this a chance since I love the idea of paradoxes and the magic elements sound good.

  5. Omg I was reading that paragraph about the paradox and my mind is like hurting this is too much thinking too much I say! But it’s a shame that you didn’t really like the characters D: I DNFed it because I got really, REALLY confused within the first few pages, but I’m glad that the fantasy elements were done well.

    Fantastic review, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Addicted to You by Colina Brennan Tour Stop
  6. Fantasy is very much my thing, so I hope I’ll like it more! I have pretty big expectations for this one as well based on other raving reviews, and I love the idea of the elemental powers. I’m glad at least you didn’t dislike it. Great, constructive review 🙂

  7. I’m a BIG fan of Sherry Thomas and her historical romances. I think part of the problem is the way she writes. She’s not one to do trilogies and especially where 2 characters will be at the center (she does have one series where we do get 2 characters and their story in the first 2 books as secondary characters, but when they get their own book it falls short). She’s also one that doesn’t do “intense” scenes. She’s very much an angst type of writer and I saw elements of it throughout The Burning Sky. In terms of the characters-they are very much a hybrid of her historical characters. I kept seeing bits and pieces of x hero and y heroine and I love Titus and Iolanthe because of this hybrid. Those not familiar with her writing and her historicals might have a difficult time enjoying it. It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s the just the way she writes. I love her no matter what and I think people comparing it Harry Potter are just doing a disservice to Thomas because the books are very very different.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jess! It’s great to get some insight into Sherry Thomas as an author, especially from someone who’s read her other books!

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