Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Review: The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: September 17th, 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. Expect magic.
The Burning Sky is a debut YA fantasy novel from historical fiction author Sherry Thomas. It has a great cover and a promising start, but unfortunately tails off towards the middle before picking up momentum again at the end. I liked it, but I was expecting more.
At the beginning of the book, we meet Iolanthe Seabourne, an elemental mage. When she does the impossible - summons lightning - a whole chain of events is set in motion and her life changes forever. Prince Titus of Elberon suddenly appears in her life and she's forced to go on the run, lying and deceiving everyone along the way. Her task is to defeat the Bane, the most feared mage in the Realm.
The Burning Sky is a fairly long book and didn't manage to hold my attention throughout all of it. The first hundred pages had me hooked, but then very little seemed to happen and I lost some of my interest. The ending redeemed itself, though - it was exciting and successfully set up a sequel. I personally think this book would have benefitted from being written in first person, as I would have loved to get inside Iolanthe's head and find out what she was really thinking. She's a character I liked, but one I didn't feel as if I completely knew by the end of the book. Same for Titus - he has such a rich history and vast knowledge, not to mention an affinity for The Crucible that allows him to enter other worlds - but still I didn't feel like I knew him as much as I should have.
I did however enjoy the fantasy aspects of this book, including the many creatures (wyverns!) featured. The life of an elemental mage is an interesting one, and I hope that's explored more in the sequel. There's a lot left unsaid about what happened in the past, all of which I'm sure would be an interesting read.
While I didn't love The Burning Sky as much as I thought I would, I did enjoy it and will read any future books in the series. Sherry Thomas can write great characters and fantasy scenes, but for me this first instalment was just a little bit too slow. Still, fantasy fans should add this one to their reading lists!