Who knew that one ruined elixir could start a life of infinite danger? Iolanthe certainly did not, or she would have never attempted to fix that stupid potion.
Controlling lightning and calling it to strike the potion seemed like a good idea at the time, it was a pretty important potion, but it caused all kinds of unwanted, and potentially fatal, attention to be cast on Iolanthe. Apparently, she is the greatest elemental mage of the generation, and everyone would like to take advantage of her. That would have definitely been good to know before she called down that darn lightning.
Prince Titus was one of the many people surprised, impressed, and envious of that lightning strike. No one has been able to bend lightning to their will since the golden age of mages, which was hundreds of years ago. The powerful mage that accomplished this feat might be the only person who can help the prince fulfill the prophecy proclaimed by his mother. In order to complete his destiny, the prince must battle the corrupt, and immensely powerful, Bane who controls the prince's realm with a iron, bloody hand.
In order for the plan to succeed, the mage and the prince must be willing to sacrifice everything to their cause. Unfortunately, Iolanthe and Titus do not exactly see eye to eye on this whole destiny thing.
The Burning Sky is pretty much everything I could hope for in a fantasy novel; great world-building with details that go above and beyond anything I could ask for, raw and lively characters who are prone to using sarcasm, and a plot that thickens throughout the whole story, sometimes without you even realizing until it is too late.
One of the biggest hit or miss factors of a fantasy book for me is the world-building. There has to be just the right amount that I know what is going on, but not too much that I am bored to tears. Sometimes, it seems that authors go into textbook-writing mode when describing their world. While still informative, this droning method takes the fun out of the new world.
The Burning Sky takes place in an alternate past where mages (kind of) coexisted with regular people. It included history and politics of the time. Some of it seems so realistic that I am start to wonder if it actually happened.....
Fortunately, most of the world-building in The Burning Sky was subtly woven into the dialogue, thoughts, and actions of the characters. This is my favorite kind of world-building, mostly because it does not involve paragraphs and paragraphs of seemingly endless facts and history about the world. It was more of a story than a textbook. The beautiful description, backstories, and prophecies illuminate the past, present, and even the future of the wondrous world this book is set in.
There are also some pretty cool footnotes in the back of the book that enhance the world and its history. The little bits of awesomeness are written as excerpts from textbooks, newspapers, and magazines in the world of the book. They are full of insightful tidbits about the world, but are not necessary to understanding the story.
The characters were also a huge plus. Iolanthe was a fiery, strong-willed character who was supposed to be a major elemental mage but really did not want to accept that destiny. All she wanted was to live a normal life with her mentor and avoid conflict. But everything changed when she light up that elixir. To avoid being hunted down for her powers, she had to left with the Prince to his boarding school. An all boys boarding school. So, there was a little bit of a She's the Man situation as Iolanthe tries to fit in with non-magical boys. Then she figures out that the prince has a plan for her, a dangerous one at that. I admire Iolanthe's determination to be herself and somewhat reluctant choice to help the prince with his own destiny.
The prince was also pretty great. He was everything a scorned, spoiled prince should be; stubborn, sarcastic, bossy, and narcissistic. But, he was also everything that a great love interest should be; sassy, gentle, kind, and selfless (not to mention handsome). My feelings for him changed throughout the novel as more was revealed about him. Thomas masterfully played with my perception of the prince and kept me on my toes. The chemistry (or dare I say magic) in their relationship was slow burning, but worth the wait.
The third factor that completes the trifecta of a perfect fantasy book is the plot. It must include mystery, action, betrayal, secrets, magic, love, loss, and intrigue. I am glad to say that The Burning Sky got all of these and more. The plot started slowly building along with the characters. More and more complications were introduced, my heart rate elevating with each magical addition. Before I knew it, the plot exploded with action and magic.
Of course, like all good fantasy series, there were multiple problems left at the end to transition to the next book. I will definitely be reading The Perilous Sea to continue this magical journey with Iolanthe and Prince Titus.
I would recommend this amazing story to all fantasy fans. If you like action, magic, and new worlds, then you will love this book. I would also recommend it to fans of historical fiction fans. The setting of early 1800's colonies is incorporated into the story, along with the customs of the time.