Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

Title: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Genre: YA, fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray, September 17, 2013
How Did I Get It? Bought it!
Format? Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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 avenge 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.

Amazon | Barnes and NobleBook DepositoryGoodreads

Before I get to my actual review, I have a few confessions. 1) I’ve owned this book since last October. 2) It sat on my shelf ever since. 3) I only picked it up *finally* because I needed a good reason to buy The Perilous Sea when it comes out in Autumn. 4) I only wanted The Perilous Sea because of its gorgeous cover. WATER. DRAGON.

So you can see my train of thought here: read The Burning Sky = have a legit reason to explain my purchase of The Perilous Sea other than cover lust. And so began my foray into reading a book I knew very little about but for the fact that Nara gave it five stars and she and I have a 99% rating agreement so there was that. Thus, emboldened by my reading twin’s effusive praises, I set off!

Aaaanddd I was treated to a fantastic high fantasy novel that is the illustrious start to what I’m sure is going to be a mind-blowing series. Now I’ll admit that the first few chapters were hard – there’s a lot to figure out, and fast. It’s not like Harry Potter where you learn right along with Harry and thus are slowly introduced to the world and it’s inner workings. Io already knows about and can use her powers, so all the usual “how does this work?” aspect of the magic and world building doesn’t really exist. It’s one of those books where you have to figure it out by inferring from conversations and how characters act, and I think Thomas did a pretty good job at not making me feel totally lost.

Both of the main characters were complex and intriguing, so there’s an A+ from me on that aspect. Io wasn’t the usual “oh woe is me my destiny is crushing me under its weight and I’m but a pitiful teenager” trope – she rejected it at first, but once she figured everything out she eventually shifted to an attitude of “this isn’t what I want to do, but if I sit back and do nothing then I’ll never forgive myself.” Which is understandable – who really wants to throw herself in the face of almost-certain death? But aside from that, Io is self-assured, fiery, a bit cocky, and strong.

And then there’s Titus, who actually surprised me with his character. I had thought he would be the usual: handsome, kind-hearted, stoic-in-the-face-of-his-prophesied-death, all around upstanding and moral dude. But homeboy is, to be frank, a bit of an ass at first. He was manipulative, rude, zealous, and conniving for most of the first half of the book. As his background and personality starts to show up more, however, it’s realized that it’s all a front, and really he’s scared, confused, and trying to be this image that he created for the public that isn’t really himself. At some points, Io became the shore to cling to when Titus was thrown around by all the events, and I loved how their relationship started forming through that.

As for the romance – I have mixed feelings. Some part of me says YES OMG I SHIP IT but there’s a little bit of my head that says, “but where was the chemistry?” At certain points in the book I felt it was more of a “these two will fall in love because I said so” trope. But as the plot progressed I started to see those little sparks more and more, and by the end I had completely turned to the YES OMG I SHIP IT part of my brain.

There were a few other things that I could nitpick at (I was confused by the magic at times *personal issue*, the plot seemed to dart around a bit and not settle down, and the big battle could have been a bit more bombtastic), but overall I really enjoyed the story. I’m not freaking out quite yet – I wasn’t gasping for The Perilous Sea, but I’m pleased by the entire experience and with patiently await the release date whereupon I will fetch my copy and settle in for what is sure to be an action-packed sequel.

My Final Rating:

Four stars

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16 thoughts on “Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

  1. I liked that this book worked hard for your affections. I do think that some of the best series I’ve read in my entire life started with a modestly satisfying first installment, and then as the series progress, it would turn out to be the best series I would ever be so lucky to read. And you totally got me at the dragon cover, *looks it up*, and wow! Guess who’s reading this book next?

    • You’re actually right – I always expect a book to grab me right away, but in this case it really worked to have a slower start. I’m glad you love the cover! It’s one of my favorites for this year 😀

  2. YES TO PRETTY WATER DRAGONS!!! AND TO PRETTY FLAME PHOENIXES!
    I have to admit, the covers totally drew me to this series too haha (well, cover. Because when I read TBS the cover of TPS hadn’t been released yet…)

    haha loving how my rating gave you confidence XD I actually do that too these days. I got To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before from the library because of your praises 😉 Strangely though, a lot of my GR friends don’t like it that much. BUT I IGNORED THEM BECAUSE I TRUST MY BOOKTWIN MORE ❤

    I have to admit, I'm not really scrambling for the The Perilous Sea either. I actually already have an eARC of it, but not in any rush to read it soon. It's not really a series I'm super invested in tbh. I definitely expect to enjoy it when I get round to it though 😀

    • ALL OF THE MYTHICAL ELEMENTAL ANIMALS!!!

      Well we ARE book twins 😉 Woohooo you got it! I can’t wait to see what you think of it 😀

      Yeah I think it’s one that you have to be in the right mood for – I know I’ll need to be in a more relaxed mood and just slowly read it so I can absorb it all.

  3. Man, you’re making me feel quite guilty. I had the first book as an eARC, but (eek) I DNFed it because the first few chapters were hard to get into, and I just ran out of patience (thankfully, I have more of that now). It seems like my judgement was a little too hasty, and I’d need to read this all over again. It seems like the MC grows, and I like that. Also, you’re right – the cover of the second book IS pretty. Le sigh~

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • If I hadn’t read so many strong reviews, I may have DNFed as well! It definitely takes a while to get into the book, so I don’t blame you at all 😛 Maybe give it another shot!

  4. I have the ebook of this one, and it’s been sat on my Kindle since Christmas, ever since I bought it in the sales. A fellow blogger whom I share many interests with has highly recommended it, and it looks SO GOOD. I think your review proves that, I just need to find the time to delve into this one – I’m trying to structure my reading this month.

    And oh my gosh, The Perilous Sea cover is BEAUTIFUL!!

    • I second her recommendation! Definitely make time for it, even next month if you have to 😀

      Sometimes I just open up Goodreads and stare at the cover 😉 I can’t wait for September!

  5. I can’t wait until this series is finished so that I can read it!! The covers are gorgeous and I’ve definitely been starting to get more into fantasy stuff lately. I think that it’s sometimes cool when you slowly fall in love with a book vs. just immediately thinking OMG IT’S AWESOME. Both kinds of stories have their time and place.

    • It’s a trilogy, so you should only have about another year and a half 😀

      And I actually have to agree with you now – I didn’t fall in LOVE immediately, but I’ve found myself thinking about it every once in a while. It’s more long-lasting, rather than an OMG I LOVE IT and then forget about it two weeks later type of book 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed The Burning Sky 🙂 To took me two or three check outs from the library to actually get around to it. But I was so glad I did.

    I loved that manipulative side to Titus – that ruthlessness mostly because he refused to apologize for it. He didn’t even really feel bad. Because I thought that part of him made him so much more vulnerable later on. That’s why I thought the relationship with Iolanthe worked so well, because they were able to trust and rely on each other because they were isolated together.

    Though I adore their relationship, I wouldn’t have minded if it had a slower burn – if the bantering and fun in the first book and they way they came to care about each other’s welfare had been enough for the first book and the wild i love yous appeared in the second.

    But the rest of the world and the magic and everything was so much fun, there really isn’t much to complain about 🙂

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who had a hard time getting into it! It seems to be a universal thing 🙂

      Yeah, I can see that. I do love some banter ^_^ All I’m hoping for is that it doesn’t get angsty in the second book; that’ll turn me off it real quick.

  7. I very much agree with your review – I think I had the same thoughts and issues as you did. It’s a great start to the series though and I’m looking forward to The Perilous Sea! I hope what another commenter said – that this book is more the set up for a great series will come true! It has so much potential!

  8. So much honesty! I love it! The Perilous Sea’s cover really is crazy beautiful, so I don’t think anyone would blame you if just had simply given in to the cover lust. 🙂 BUT, I’m so glad you liked this! And I love your assessment of Titus; it’s so spot-on.

    • Yay! All my bookish people would totally understand the cover lust; it’s everyone else who would look at me funny 😉 IE: my family!

      Titus gives me so many feels </3 He was probably my favorite, simply because of the layers to his personality.

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