The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy)
Balzer + Bray (September 17, 2013)
Just before the start of Summer Half, in April 1883, a very minor event took place at Eton College, that venerable and illustrious English public school for boys. A sixteen-year-old pupil named Archer Fairfax returned from a three-month absence, caused by a fractured femur, to resume his education.
Almost every word in the preceding sentence is false. Archer Fairfax had not suffered a broken limb. He had never before set foot in Eton. His name was not Archer Fairfax. And he was not, in fact, even a he.
This is the story of a girl who fooled a thousand boys, a boy who fooled an entire country, a partnership that would change the fate of realms, and a power to challenge the greatest tyrant the world had ever known.
Sherry Thomas took a risk with her YA debut. Hers has been a career centered on the human condition, specifically on the intricacies and complications contained in historical romance. She’s a writer that loves to set the stage and make that setting vivid and organic. Often, when a writer shifts genres, there is a learning curve, perhaps elements of transition that do not wholly mesh.
But Thomas is a true writer with grit and substance all rolled up into a talent that demands attention.
With The Burning Sky, Thomas proves that, for her, the learning curve isn’t really even a consideration.
The novel concerns Iolanthe Seabourne, “the greatest elemental mage of her generation.” She doesn’t buy it, doesn’t understand the necessity of her monotonous existence with her guardian or the purpose of the power she’s told she’s given. That is until that power manifests and Iolanthe is thrust into a journey that will leave all that she is and all that she’s perceived to be in the dust.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to avenge his massacred family and The Realm and he takes lolanthe under his wing, hiding her away from the tyrannical Bane who are determined have her powers and her prophesied ability that promises to end their reign of terror.
But Titus didn’t expect to fall in love with lolanthe and he certainly didn’t expect to have to choose between her life and his mission.
Thomas expertly marries a fantastic climax with a satisfying ending that will have readers clamoring for the next installment. There is angst typical of the YA genre, but it is in no way overdone or trite. The prose is effective, even lyrical and reminiscent of many great Fantasy works I’ve read with subtle hints of Rowling, Tolkien and Grossman.
This is a finely crafted novel for any aged reader and one that will satisfy both fantasy aficionados and lovers of beautifully crafted journey stories.
Highly, highly recommended.