The Burning Sky (Elemental Trilogy #1)

The Burning Sky (Elemental Trilogy #1)

by Sherry Thomas


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It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been 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 most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he 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 tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062207296
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/17/2013
Series: Elemental Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 736,059
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.70(d)
Lexile: HL770L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sherry Thomas immigrated to the United States from China when she was thirteen and taught herself English in part by devouring science fiction and romance novels. She is the author of several acclaimed novels in that genre and is the recipient of two RITA Awards. When not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find. Sherry lives with her family in Houston, Texas.

What People are Saying About This

Rae Carson

“Sherry Thomas’s The Burning Sky is a marvelous, magical adventure set in a beautifully imagined world. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.”

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The Burning Sky 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
DonnaGambale More than 1 year ago
When you finish reading a book and then immediately read everything else the author has ever written, you know that author is skilled. That's exactly what happened when I read Sherry Thomas's THE BURNING SKY. I went on her website to (not kidding) find out if they'd announced the release date of the sequel, and discovered that she had established her career as an author of historical romance. THE BURNING SKY, a traditional fantasy novel, was Thomas's first foray into writing YA, and she transitioned seamlessly into the new genre. THE BURNING SKY has excellent world building and a fun concept, with a well-written dual point-of-view, third person narration. (No simple feat!) It's an easy read, but since it's basically about epic-scale political machinations that span both the mage world and our world .... with some complicated magical rules to boot ... I'd say the ease comes from Thomas's skills as a writer and not the simplicity of the plot. I felt connected to both Iolanthe and Titus, and I became totally invested in their story. And thankfully, there's a perfect balance of romance mixed in with the main plot, so that it never felt overwhelming. When adult authors transition to YA, many times their debut is a teen version of the type of book that cemented their career in the first place. That's not necessarily a bad thing ... but once I discovered that Thomas was an RITA Award-winning romance writer, it really impressed me how she chose to rein in the burgeoning romance in THE BURNING SKY and really let fantasy take center stage. The only way Thomas followed the traditional advice "write what you know" is that she stuck to her norm of excellent characterization and dialogue, plus a witty narration. (Like I said, I ended up reading her seven other novels, so I know for a fact that the quality of THE BURNING SKY isn't a fluke.) I definitely recommend THE BURNING SKY for fans of Rae Carson's incredible Fire and Thorns trilogy. However, where the Fire and Thorns books could've easily been marketed as adult (like Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study or Kristin Cashore's novels), THE BURNING SKY feels solidly YA, mostly due to the innocence of the main characters and the fact that they're still in school. But Iolanthe and Titus's situation is changing quickly, and I have a feeling they'll grow up with the trilogy, as the stakes become higher. (And I wouldn't complain in the least if we upped the swoon scale. Because Thomas can really bring le swoon.) I'm always anxious reading the end of the first book of a trilogy, wondering if there's enough of a plot arc to support three novels. With THE BURNING SKY, you have a satisfying ending that teases into an epic-scale, trilogy-worthy plot, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the rest of the books go. Final verdict: Sherry Thomas will be welcomed into the world of YA with open arms, and she earned it.
ChristinaReadsYA More than 1 year ago
Ten Likes/Dislikes: 1. (+) Iolanthe, the protagonist - Iolanthe. She starts off a determined, self-sufficient heroine who has to learn about magic on her own because her mentor's too busy making a fool of himself. Then there's that "ruined elixir" inciting incident, and she's thrust in an unfamiliar situation but does not break easily. The main aspect of this book involves Iolanthe becoming "Fairfax" (see trailer here; since it's mentioned there, I'm not considering this a spoiler). She cross-dresses as a boy attending Eton College while she hones her powers under Titus's tutelage. I felt pity for Iolanthe and wasn't quite sure what to think of her from the start (mostly because of the influences, which I will discuss below, and the fact that she's ripped away from her world before you begin to understand who she was before Eton). However, when Iolanthe became Fairfax, I warmed to her more brazen, take-charge, plucky attitude, and we got to see that Iolanthe determination spring anew, both in thwarting the prince and the Bane. 2. (+) Titus, the other protagonist - "Means to an end." The summary tells you a lot about Titus. He's determined and manipulative, and he's had to grow up alone and self-sufficient given his position as Master of the Domain. He's living his life with thin threads of hope for revenge, but he's just a cheeky boy who could use a bit of love, friendship, tenderness. In some ways, Titus reminds me of Prince Po from Graceling - sure, he makes mistakes, and he's had problems with his magic in the past (which we don't get to see), but do I picture him as a real character? Probably not. He's still fun to read about, though. Fun for those looking for book boyfriends. And though secret keeping usually bothers me in other novels, his tactics actually amused me. 3. (+) World-building - Two major aspects - the magical aspects and the Eton college setting - had to be explored, and both were amusing to say the least. I get the feeling that we've only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the limits and rules of this world - if you need all the aspects to be fully explored as they happen, you might not like how this book handles world-building. You'll learn about magical transportation, wands and spellbooks, how the elements come into play. Best of all, there's the Crucible, which is a storybook that Iolanthe and Titus use as a magical training ground. Being exposed to the various levels (a kind of mix of magic and video gaming) and stories written into the Crucible and knowing of its rules made for great character development and unexpected plot twists too. Then there's also the Eton college setting and watching the camaraderie between a bunch of rowdy boys. Cricket and wand jokes and a nice contrast between the magical and the real world are involved. All in all, a spellbinding realization of a fantasy world that I'd love to explore more (you know how JKR is writing a screenplay on Fantastic Beasts? I could picture something similar of The Crucible and its various stories.) 4. (+/-) Influences/Tropes - The beginning was slightly off-putting to me given the immediate associations I'd had with other books. A mentor who reminded me of Haymitch, a girl who has take care of herself and her elders (Katniss) and does not know of her prophesied powers (Harry Potter). Marble the winged horse (thestrals?) as transportation as well as vaulting, mage transportation that seems similar to Disapparation except that it actually has limits (which you don't discover until later--so the beginning is a bit confusing). The use of a forgetfulness spell that has Latin roots (I think most of the spells did? I'm no linguist, though). And later in the story: the villain whose name people have grown to fear (the Bane; Voldemort; You-know-who). The villain's minion, the Inquisitor, a less annoying version of Umbridge. Prophecies, wand jokes, girl-pretending-to-boy (Tamora Pierce, no?), etc. etc. All of this, however, didn't really detract from the story for me, since it's nearly impossible to avoid any sort of influence or reminders that this book is not the first in its genre, and in the end, the Burning Sky made up for these associations by embracing its own differences (in the form of the Crucible and the writhing, genius blood oath). 5. (+) Romance - Are you a sucker for hate-turned-love stories? Are you a sucker for fairy tales? This book has got both, and a fresh twist on both. Iolanthe, at first confused and unsure, wants nothing to do with Titus when she realizes the means to which he'll go, and Titus is constantly plotting ways to entrap Iolanthe. It's funny to compare this realization to Titus's dream of the perfect fairy tale romance (see, I told you: cheeky boy who needs to be loved) and Iolanthe's initial impression of the stately prince. Their romance is more of the slow-burn variety as they face the agents of Atlantis, become friends who can actually trust one another, and are thrust into situation after situation with one another. 6. (+/-) Plot - Most of the times when people act according to a prophecy, I get confused. Would the prophecy still have been fulfilled had the other not known? What governs the limits for the Seer's predictions? Even still, this book has quite a few plot twists that I did not see coming, despite the tropes. This is what I love about high fantasy: when you can't quite predict what's coming next because you might just discover something new about the world that's already been established. 7. (+/-) Character Development - While I thought that it was really nice to watch Iolanthe cultivate her powers as quite the formidable mage, the cross-dressing aspect of the novel did not always work for me. Iolanthe says that she's able to imitate Eton boys because a few passed by her house? The explanation is something like that. Here's the thing: I have three older brothers who I've watched/idolized/etc. for many years. I would not be able to imitate them/boy interactions to the level of perfection that she imitates Eton boys. Fairfax vs. Iolanthe - are they actually the same person? This question sometimes popped into my head as I was reading. Fairfax is so much snappier, pluckier than Iolanthe, perhaps because Iolanthe was thrust into a stressful situation from the start and we didn't get to see her snark until she'd shaved her hair. Of course I had fun reading about Fairfax and felt pity for Iolanthe, but the ways in which the two were joined sometimes didn't work for me. As for Titus, his evolution, his softening was done quite well. 8. (+) Writing - It's Sherry Thomas. Have you ever read one of her historical romance novels? She is what drove me to read this novel. She can write romantic tension like few authors can, and we get to experience more of her skill with historical atmospheres in her YA debut. There are a lot of books where having dual third-person POVs do not work. This is not one of them. 9. (+/-) Pacing - Have you read Shadow and Bone? The pacing reminds me of that in S&B. No time is wasted before our protagonists meet and then are off to Eton while Iolanthe learns how to control her powers. It all builds to a great climax at the end. However, sometimes in the middle, I found myself bored, despite the general humor of the Eton situation. 10. (+) The Cover - I'm so glad that they changed the previous cover. The phoenix is quite representative, if not an actual element that I can remember, and the upside down castle thing really confused me. Both give the epic fantasy vibe, but this one's got more pop to it. An epic fantasy laden with intrigue and magic, The Burning Sky will definitely appeal to Harry Potter fans who wanted more romance as well as fans of Tamora Pierce. Think Graceling meets Harry Potter but with the later nineteenth century London in mind; a formidable partnership to face down the Big Bad. A fun read for when you are in the mood for deciphering high fantasy worlds. Even if you haven't read The Burning Sky, did you see the content not in the ARC that Sherry Thomas posted to her website? I always love finding little tidbits like that. Convinces me that the author has thought through a lot of the rules of the world and would have reason to write additional side stories. Want other opinions? See what Shae (Bookshelvers Anonymous/Shae Has Left the Room) and Sam (Realm of Fiction) thought.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Action, fantasy, magic, romace
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story had me from the start, every second made you want to read on. Sherry Thomas's The Burning Sky was absolutely fantastic and beautiful. Thomas's created a new kind of story not just an amazing and strong female figure but an equally strong male figure. She also entangled a somewhat forbidden romance making the story even more readable and perfect. I highly suggest this book if you enjoy romance and fantasy tied in a life or death situation. I am very excited to see where she takes the next books, its an adventure you don't want to miss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know when you read a book, and then you at some point must you try, but as soon as you close your eyes, You are immediately taken to the world that the author has created...and you cannot possibly sleep until you know what happens... I met the author recently at the RWA convention, and I asked what book would be coming out next, as I had already read and loved the ones she had to sell. She handed me a card which told of her new YA series due out soon. I was sad at first because I love her romances.... but trust me, after reading this.... I am so glad that she decided to tell this tale! Now I will be anxiously waiting for the next book. And I will definitely recommend this book to all my reading friends!
Anonymous 11 months ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Highly recommend it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really captured my interest; I couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Well done characters that you love or hate. Lots of moving around their world and fighting for survival and love. I will be looking for the next book in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time since I enjoed an epic fantasy so much! Cant wait to read the sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Iolanthe Seabourne is perhaps the greatest elemental mage of her generation. Controlling lightning, air, and fire, she may be the most powerful mage since Hegira the Merciless, which is believed to be a myth. Her destiny is to find and defeat the powerful Bane or is it. He is the most ruthless tyrant of the realm, cruel and merciless. Titus VII, the prince of the domain, has taken a blood oath to protect and train Iolanthe for the fight against the Bane. But with the oath, Iolanthe makes him swear that they will only make one attempt at the Bane’s life. But will Titus be alive to see the Bane defeated? Titus, in his attempt to hide Iolanthe from the Bane, brings her to his school, Eton College, that Atlanta makes him go to. But what he doesn’t tell Iolanthe is that it’s an all boy school and she must disguise herself as Archer Fairfax. Archer Fairfax is a boy that Titus made up, which he was said to have hurt his femur and was out for 2 months. He trains her in made up realms that he can control, like the Black Bastian. This training involves physical creatures and obstacles and they can hurt them or even kill them, but it isn’t permanent. Unfortunately he falls in love with the girl that could be the death of him. I would recommend The Burning Sky to anyone who likes fantasy, magic, action, and dragons. It’s full of magic and different realms of worlds you might want to escape to for a little while. You could slip away to the world of Sleeping beauty or the Black Bastian, which is a made up land in the book. There’s a lot of violence in the book, which I think is cool and there’s a lot of nonstop action of fighting. I would also recomend this book if you like a love story. The two people who fall in love, take a long time to realize their feelings for each other, because if they do it will make their lives more difficult. The book is full of personal feelings toward the characters, jealousy, love, sadness, and conflict. So if you’re not a person who likes love and conflict, I wouldn’t suggest reading the book and its sequels. Personally, love stories aren’t my favorite. There are sequels to the book: The Perilous sea and The Immortal Height.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ashleyann120 More than 1 year ago
I liked the book, but I didn't love it. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I'll read the rest of the series. While the world that Sherry Thomas created was fascinating, logical, and well-developed, I thought this book ended too abruptly. Maybe I wanted the confrontation to be more face-to-face, and not done at a distance. Anyways, like I said, it was good, not great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keeps your interest and may lead to purchase of other books in the series.
Kurosaki_Ichigo More than 1 year ago
awesome book. loved it!
AsDreamsAreMade More than 1 year ago
Original Review Link: How to describe this book? I just…hmm….it wasn’t BAD, but it wasn’t great either :-/ I felt like I was in a weird mixture of Victorian England meets Harry Potter meets classic fairytales all mashed into one big mess. Iolanthe is an elemental mage who is destined to save her realm from the oppressive rule of the Atlantians. With the help of Prince Titus, she enrolls in Eton, disguised as the young boy Archer Fairfax to hide from the Inquisitor who would capture her for the Bane. Once there she must learn to harness her powers to their full potential, while trying to not fall in love with the Prince. Can I just do a preface in saying that I love stories where a female disguises herself as a boy. I know that sounds ridiculous and weird, but it’s true. I even did my MA dissertation on it (Cross-Dressing Heroines in Early Modern Theatre: A Study on the Influence of Cross-Dressing in John Lyly’s Gallathea, Thomas Middleton’s and Thomas Dekker’s The Roaring Girl, and William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline) I think it all started with Alanna the Lioness by Tamora Pierce. So when I saw the blurb for this, I automatically had to read it. DUH. It starts off rather slow. It’s deceiving in that way because a lot happens at the beginning, but really it doesn’t. It’s rather tedious until the last few chapters. The characters were strong and I knew I liked Iolanthe right away, especially when she was interacting with the other boys as Fairfax. Those were some of my favorite moments in the book and really allowed you to get to know the other boys and Iolanthe herself. She’s rather smart and is a good match for Titus, who is himself quite accomplished, but a bit brooding at times. We get it. We know you’re destiny isn’t the greatest, but at times I felt it was a bit much. I loved their interaction though and their slowly developed romance. The main issue I had with this book was the world building. It was as if the reader was supposed to know everything already and half the time I was thinking, “Wait. Was this explained somewhere?” From what I could make of it, there are different Realms, one of which is London, and one, the Domain, where magic is common place. Within this Domain, they also have historical figures based on our fairytales? At least I think they do–they did mention Rumpelstiltskin at one point. Like I said, very confusing. If you can make sense of it, please enlighten me. The magic seemed a bit confusing as well. There are two types–elemental and subtle. Elemental is rarer (which is what Iolanthe has) and Subtle is more commonly used. Although I didn’t really get the nuances of subtle magic, but apparently it can be very powerful (as practiced by Titus). So was this the best female in disguise story I ever read? No. Was it the worst? No. Should you read it? Sure! Iolanthe and Titus were great and their complicated relationship makes for some great dialogue. Also, Iolanthe as Fairfax is just awesome. ‘Nuff said.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bgsw More than 1 year ago
magic and wit.  a worthy successor.  but today's typical no-ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MayaHaven More than 1 year ago
Absolutely breathtaking.  Thomas does a wonderful job of describing the mage world, developing her characters, foreshadowing events without giving too much away.  I adored this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! After reading numerous mystical/magical-themed books, it's a pleasant surprise to find new twists and turns that keep the pages turning. Looking forward to the next installment.