Date of Publication: September 17 2013
Source: Complementary ARC
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.
The Burning Sky is one of those books that take a while to get going. It is undeniably entertaining, especially the last third, but I was hoping for more.
I think the biggest problem is world building. The world is complex and creative, and I'm utterly confused about how it works. The parameters are unclear and I still don't understand what Atlantis is, or how the different worlds are connected.
This need for more explanation also extends to the magical parts. The idea of wands made some sense, but there were more confusing parts like what is the difference between a mage and a witch? I read an ARC so I'm not sure if the final version does build the world a little more. This was a pretty big issue because the world sounded cool, but not complete. It could have been one of my favourites but it instead read underdeveloped, even though I don't think it was. I think the author came up with some great ideas and put a lot of thought into her work but they weren't communicated clearly enough.
For most of the story, the plot didn't help either. So much set up was needed and that wasn't too fun, and by the time the action came around it felt a little too short. That being said, the story was fun. The plot had lots of really cool elements and it managed to hook me in once it got going. The end was much better than the beginning, and some of my favourite parts were Titus and Iolainthe's training sessions.
The villains were pretty villainous and also interesting. I loved reading about The Inquisitor. Her bickering with Titus in particular was fascinating, especially the power struggles.
The characters were lots of fun. Iolainthe was a sensible girl and I grew to like her. However, I think Titus stole the show. There's something about this tragic prince who is trying to save the world that is adorable. I couldn't help but sympathize with Titus and his presence in the book was huge.
I loved that there were dual perspectives. The story wasn't just about the special, chosen one. It was about the person that helps this chosen one, sometimes thought of as a sidekick but just as heroic. Titus brought life and conviction to the story.
I even enjoyed the budding romance, which is very strange for me. It was a slow burn with some step forwards, backwards, and sideways, with some angst in it too. Having insight into both the characters meant I could see how each of them fell for the other a little more. By no means was this romance perfect- sometimes there was too much telling, as in, "She's amazing because she does this, this and this, and not many other would do that, and that's why I love her" which I suppose isn't too bad, except I'm a big proponent of subtlety. Either way, the romance and the main characters were likable.
Maybe The Burning Sky isn't the epic story I was hoping for. That doesn't mean it wasn't a good story, and that doesn't mean it doesn't have the potential to become even better! I hope it does. Till then, 3 hearts.