I was looking for a new audiobook to start (gosh, so many of my audiobook reviews start like this — it’s always on a whim!) and I was in the mood for a fantasy. I’d been meaning to read THE BURNING SKY for years, literally. I apparently have it marked that I got it at BEA 2013, which frankly was a whirlwind since it was my first year attending BEA and since the trilogy is now complete, I figured why not just binge read it so I can start and finish all at once? I’m so glad that I did because after starting, I didn’t want to stop! I had so much fun with these characters and this setting and it was such a fun series to consume from start to finish. (And oh gosh, these covers look SO PRETTY all next to each other!)
Each book is reviewed individually and then I have some overall feelings on the series, all spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists. Please do note that if you’re reading about books two and three, there may be MINOR spoilers for previous books or for how they start.
Title: The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 9, 2016
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.
I was so excited to finally start THE BURNING SKY! I feel like I had heard a lot of good things before I started it and immediately, I knew why. The series had an overall Harry Potter-type feel to me and I mean that in the best way possible. Right off the bat, the feelings started creeping in with an orphan main character who is watched by her guardian and a separation of the mage world and non-mage world. I really enjoyed that the book kicked off with the mage character and then moved into the non-magical world instead of vice versa like so many stories tend to do. We already know the magical characters and then they bounce back and forth between worlds and figure out how to best stay protected in either one.
The characters are fantastic. I love, love, loved the banter between Titus and Iolanthe and these two are some of my favorites. They’re quite a pair and they play off of each other so well, Iolanthe being independent, stubborn, and sarcastic and Titus being protective and stoic. Their banter (really throughout the whole series) gives me life and I absolutely adore how even in the most dire of times, they’re still being witty and sarcastic and adorable. There’s young love, forbidden love, hate-to-love, and awkward love and I loved every bit of it.
Elemental magic is one of my favorite kinds and I loved all of the different ways it was used, but even more so than that, I really loved how elemental magic wasn’t the only kind. So often, if elemental magic is present in a book, that’s the only magic there is throughout but I liked how it was a different kind of magic, one that put mages on an entirely different level. Other mages still have the ability to execute magic with and without wands, though wands amplify and assist their spells/curses/hexes. There was so much to do and so many more characters were able to be included with magic not being exclusive to elemental mages. There’s also an aspect of Seers and the prophecies that play an enormous part throughout the whole series.
The element of the Crucible is one of my favorite things ever. It’s a magical book based on sets of fairy tales that mages may enter to experience as if they were really there. Their bodies stay in the actual world and they’re essentially mentally transported into the crucible but are still able to feel and sense everything as if it were real. No harm can come to a mage’s physical body within the crucible unless using it as an actual portal so Titus uses it often to practice particularly challenging bits of magic and defense against possible situations. I love the scenes in the crucible and I just adore its involvement throughout the whole series. It’s such an important part and is used so many ways.
The non-mage world is magical in its own right. Titus and Iolanthe spend a large amount of time at Eton College, a school for boys in Britain (yes, school for boys. Girl masquerading as a boy, I love it), and the camaraderie at this school is fantastic. There are a variety of friendships formed, from inquisitive Kashkari, to eager Wintervale, to adoring Cooper, to the glue that ties them together, Titus and Iolanthe aka Archer Fairfax. The friendships are just beautiful and I just love this group of boys (and girl). They’re so much fun to watch and I adore the way their friendships work and grow.
There is so, so much more I could say about this book but I’ll leave words for the other two books in the series. I’ll wrap this one up by saying that THINGS happen in the end (as they always do) and so many things are set up for the next book that I couldn’t stand it. Luckily, I didn’t have to and as soon as I finished this one, I kid you not I immediately started book two.Title: The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: September 16, 20114 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 17, 2016
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
THE PERILOUS SEA was quite the different set-up from THE BURNING SKY. While we still did have those shifting points of view (I wouldn’t really call it alternating — since everything was from the third person, it was much easier to slide back and forth betweet Titus and Iolanthe without such a stiff change but it is a definite shift in perspective), THE PERILOUS SEA opened up on the present time and the book kept flashing back to X point on the time line, working its way forward to meet up with where the book started. Sometimes this can get confusing, but I actually rather enjoyed it!
The shocker about the beginning of THE PERILOUS SEA is that we meet up with Titus and Iolanthe in the middle of the desert, not knowing how they got there and oh yeah, they have no idea who they are or who each other are. So as the book works through the past, the reader highly anticipates the moment when it’s revealed how they ended up that way. I rather enjoyed the suspense but I actually wish there was a little bit more time spent with that reveal. The magical thing about this whole part about Titus and Iolanthe not knowing each other was that they get to fall in love all over again. You think that little magic is gone because they’ve already gotten together? Surprise. They get to know each other again — with no pre-conceived notions, I might add — and it is amazing.
I wasn’t as thrilled about book two as I was about book one for most of the book until Sherry Thomas drops some SERIOUS TWISTS on us!! Really, a LOT happened in the last quarter of the book so it was a bit much to get all at once but oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, it was a doozy of a twist and there are a lot of reveals that happen here as well regarding several characters! Because of the mass-reveal, I kind of wish some things had been spread out so it wasn’t so soap-opera-confession-spree (it got to be a bit much and one more twist might have gotten to the point of silly) BUT I did love what the answers to all of these burning questions were. Like, I had some serious panic moments because of a huge twist and I was not okay.
Another thing that I noted in this book was something that I love so much about Sarah J. Maas’ books — the incredible ability to fit secondary characters in who become so much more. It’s so easy to dismiss supporting characters nowadays as so many books use them simply for support and not for actual plot development. Not Sherry Thomas. There are characters here for a darn specific reason and you will surely find out that reason all in good time. I loved how much foresight was involved in placing everyone where they belonged from the beginning of the series and holding some important moments with these characters until the exact right time. It was so neat to witness and one of my favorite things about this series!Title: The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: October 13, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 18, 2016
In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.
However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…
Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?
With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.
I basically worried about every single person’s death in THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS. No spoilers there — I was just so, so worried about how it would end. I basically just felt like the Battle of Hogwarts was going to happen at any minute and I feared for all of my beloved characters. There are constant prophecies that show impending incidences but the concept of a prophecy is up for interpretation depending on the character. Are they a certain future that you can’t avoid? Are they a future you need to actively try to accomplish? Are they an overall picture that could come true but you still decide your own destiny? It was really neat to see how one prophecy after another popped up and how they were worked into the story. There’s a long-standing one that we hear from the beginning of the first book that I worried about the whole series and we do finally get to see how that one plays out.
There were plenty more twists in this book as well! Like the thoughts I had in THE PERILOUS SEA, some twists worked brilliantly and tied so well with every character and concept and others felt juuust a little cheesy for some reason. I still loved the whole thing and I don’t know the best way to describe it but it was like almost one step too far and was a little overboard. Still, the ideas behind how to tie all of this together were so impressive!
The ending was a whirlwind and literally everything that the series had been building towards, including pretty much every concept from every book and I loved that. I just really enjoy how these books all tie together instead of being plot 1. Plot 2. Plot 3. It was truly an overarching plot that carried readers from one book to the next, even if the settings were quite different and characters came and went.
These books were just so entertaining and so enjoyable. I LOVED the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe, romantically and how Titus kept calling her his closest friend and most trusted confidant. I really enjoyed how they had such a strong friendship and bond as well as a romantic connection. All of the relationships throughout the series were just beautiful and I loved all of the different types.
I do think the world building was probably the element that was just a little lacking throughout the series. The plotting was done really well and I always enjoyed how everything came together but there were times that I wanted just a little more history or a little more structure or a little more setting and I think those things really could have shot this book to a super-love status. I still loved all of the books and just felt so at home reading them but it was something that I noticed.
This was a great series to binge-read and I truly binge read them, not pausing to read anything else in between. I think that probably helped my overall enjoyment of the series since I didn’t have to stop and wait for a new book to be published, losing some of that memory of what happened in a previous book like I always do. I also loved how the settings and happenings were quite distinct from book to book so even as I was binge reading, I was able to keep them separated in my mind.
AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS: I listened to all three of these books on audio. Philip Battley narrates them and sadly he doesn’t narrate much else that I could find on Audible. I just loved his narration! He has a delightful British accent and a deep, clear voice which was so enjoyable to listen to. His voicing of the characters was quite distinct and it was nice that Iolanthe was described as having a gravelly sort of voice so he didn’t have to put on a super soft, breathy act for her. He picked up on that beautiful, beautiful sarcasm and banter and the tone and volume of each scene was just perfect. I loved his narration and I’m so sad that he’s not a big audiobook narrator because I’d love to listen to more from him!
I’m so glad I read these back-to-back-to-back. I didn’t want to put them down and stringing them all together really kept me hooked and kept everything fresh in my mind!
BOOKS LIKE THE ELEMENTAL TRILOGY
(Click the cover to see my review!)