Thursday, 21 November 2013

Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Publisher: NLA Digital Liaison, Balzer + Bray
Release Date: 15th September 2013
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5

Description: 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.

The Burning Sky is simply magical and enchanting. There was so much unexpected richness contained within its pages. One things for sure; this book has plenty of personality unique entirely to itself. Sherry Thomas has created a world that you can immerse yourself, full of richness, intricate details and magical elements. The Burning Sky is a must read fantasy novel. There are magic spells, dragons, waring factions, portals, mages, wands and much more.  If I had to describe this book, I would say that it’s a cross between Harry Potter and She’s the Man. Yes you heard that right, there is cross-dressing magical fun to be had.

The book immediately demands attention with a preface that is guaranteed to stir your curiosity. You immediately want to know what this magical tale entails. It starts with a girl calling down lighting and setting in motion events that will change everything and fulfil a prophecy.  Iolanthe’s mage skills have made her a target for Atlantis. Together with Prince Titus she must find a way to survive and defeat destiny.  Themes of destiny and fate play a huge role in shaping the story and the motivations of one Prince. The Burning Sky isn’t your standard book. It’s a book that is intelligent and cleaver right from the world building to its characters. There is no extreme good luck bestowed upon its character, nor is there an all seeing entity that has all the answers. In short there is nothing convenient about this book. Every situation that Titus and Iolanthe find them selves in, they can only rely on themselves and each other. It makes for some very interesting schemes.  Titus and Iolanthe always have to be one step ahead.  

The world building of the Domain and Victorian England are intricate. There were multiple layers all woven seamlessly together into one big tapestry. There is the mage world of the Domain filled with magic and mythical creatures. It was also a kingdom under the tyranny of Atlantis. Along with the Domain, the non-mage world of 1800’s London also played a unique part of this story. The boy’s school of Eton and its student body were a wonderful addition to this story. It’s also where our cross-dressing heroine gets into all sorts of awkward situations. If these two different worlds weren’t enough there is also a crucible that transports people into a virtual reality filled with magic and trials. All three separate worlds fit seamlessly into Titus and Iolanthe’s story. There were so many small details that went into each world. Each world has their own rules and traditions. I also loved that there were footnotes to explain the technical aspects of magic. It prevented the book from information overload and for those who wanted to read the endnotes it provided a detailed view about the world.

The book takes a while to understand all the moving pieces, but once you do, you are in for one hell of an adventure. Iolanthe was not my favourite character to begin with. She is a little hesitant and frightened because of the situation she is thrust into. However she is a revelation as the story goes on. She is strong, vibrant, funny and intelligent. She is loyal and wonderful. I absolutely loved her.  The way she seamlessly becomes a boy to hide from Atlantis and interacts with her classmates is simply marvellous. She makes a convincing boy with all of her sharp wit.  Titus was smart and he was such an interesting character from the get go. He was cocky and arrogant to those around him but with Iolanthe he loyal and dedicated.  He wore his two personalities well. In fact both he and Iolanthe both have disguises and multiple facets, which were wonderful to explore. My only complaint about this book was that the romance felt a bit rushed at the beginning. I love the hate/love relationship these two exhibit. They compliment each other. I can’t wait to see what adventures these two get into next.

A fantastic fantasy read. Simply magical. 

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