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The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Audiobook {4 Stars}

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas is a fantasy series that has been getting a crazy amount of hype. When the second book, The Perilous Sea, came out earlier this year, I knew I needed to find out what everyone was gushing about. Therefore, I turned to audiobooks because how else was I supposed to fit it in in a timely manner?? Fortunately, there was pretty good narration, so I now have happily started The Burning Sky series and am just one book away from being all caught up! While I wouldn’t say it blew my mind, I can definitely see where The Burning Sky has the potential to begin a truly ground-breaking fantasy series, and it has that whole girl-disguised-as-a-boy thing that so many of you love ;-).

Note: I listened to The Burning Sky which inarguably influences my reading experience.

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Audiobook {4 Stars}

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Narrated by Philip Battley
(The Elemental Trilogy #1)
Published by Balzer & Bray on Sept. 17th, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 464 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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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.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • The fantasy world of The Burning Sky is actually multiple worlds, ours as one and at least one, perhaps multiple others that have magic. The Burning Sky is one of those books that will confuse you initially because there is a lot of lingo to pick up and the characters have basic assumptions about how the world works that they don’t share with you, but figuring all that out is half the fun!
  • I never felt that The Burning Sky was dumping information on the reader in order to make sure we got all the details of how things work between the teleportation (called vaulting), the elemental magic, the other kind of magic, the shadow government somehow connected to the magic world which is also then connected to our world, etc. Instead, you as the reader get to discover things and slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. Just be warned that you don’t have all the pieces by the end of book one, but that just leaves more fun for book two :D.
  • There was a danger to my listening to The Burning Sky because the male MC, Prince Titus, acts like a complete jackass most of the time, but very early on he makes a reference internally to having to keep up the act. If you miss that part, you’ll hate him, but instead, I loved him because of the complexity of teasing out which parts are really him and which parts are him playing a part so hard his life depends on it. I’m not shipping these kids or anything, but I love their depth ;-).
  • There is a chosen one trope in The Burning Sky, but the twist on it is simply marvelous. Titus has been informed by his psychic mother that he must protect the great elemental mage that will appear with his very life. Therefore, even though there is a chosen one, there is also the very painful dynamic of a second main character who knows that he is not the chosen one and will in fact someday die for the cause. There is somehow an extra edge added when your mother had a vision of your actual death over the more general “I’d be willing to die for you” sort of thing ya know?
  • I love magic systems and it is a simple delight when a book presents not one, but two and possibly more magic systems! I’m honestly still a little confused about how all the different worlds/realms link together, but I’m having fun with the more traditional elements-based magic mixing and evolving with the more “handy” magic that sweeps and cleans and such.
  • I’m not general a fan for relationship angst, but this complicated romance seemed minimal on the angst despite the kind of horrendous circumstances. I mentioned that Titus knows his fate early on, and so you can imagine his feelings for Iolanthe would be a bit complex, and then there is the whole they are supposed to both be straight boys at boarding school thing to add lots of laughs :-P.
  • I have more to say about the narration in the next section unfortunately, but I do feel the need to say that I think the male narrator did a decent job of giving the characters each their own pretty good voices, even the female characters, so while I didn’t love the audiobook more than I would have the physical, this was a convenient way to get another book in my head ;-).

Weaknesses:

  • For some reason a British older gentleman just doesn’t seem like the right narrator choice for a YA fantasy with one female MC and one male MC. This narration choice completely changed the tone of The Burning Sky for me and I think it kept me from loving it as much as I might have with a narrator that fit better.
  • While Iolanthe does actually train quite hard and long for her magical gains, it is glossed over for the most part, so it seems like she had an easy time learning impossible tasks. Intellectually, I know that I remember the days to weeks she spent training constantly, but I really didn’t feel like a part of that struggle with her.
  • I will be honest that I really wasn’t sure what to make of The Burning Sky in the first half. Things seemed like they could be cool (and eventually did get very compelling), but I found myself not eager to jump back into listening in the beginning and possibly even *gasp* switched to music once!

Summary:

The Burning Sky is a very ambitious start to a promising fantasy trilogy. As long as I get more answers in the next book about all the awesome worlds and magic hinted at in The Burning Sky, I’ll be a happy fantasy geek! While I wasn’t all over the romance, I did connect emotionally with the characters individually, and I worry a bit that the narration tone influenced this. Unless you really love the narrator sample, I recommend sticking with a physical read for The Burning Sky. Now off to book two!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed The Burning Sky! I read it last year, and then again before The Perilous Sea was released, and I really like it. It’s got such a complicated system of magic, and yet, it’s all explained pretty easily and well. I also just really enjoyed learning more about Titus, Iolanthe and their goals — and The Perilous Sea certainly raises the stakes of The Burning Sky by 100-fold. (This is my nudge to get you to read it!)
    Alexa S. recently posted…Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless – Liz CzukasMy Profile

  2. Good review, Anya! I was wavering on whether to read this book – I have it on my Kindle (bought when it was on deep sale.) Now I think I really must read it! It will make a good choice for the COYER challenge.
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…COYER GoalsMy Profile

  3. I recently read this for a committee thing and I really wish that I could have publicly reviewed it, as I just absolutely loved it. I haven’t laid my hands on the sequel yet, though. Too bad about the narrator not fitting the book.
    looloolooweez recently posted…Book Review | Clariel by Garth NixMy Profile

  4. Hmm, my interest is definitely peaked. I like well developed and complex characters and seems like there isn’t so much world dumping as to draw me away from it. There tends to be a lot of that in these types of Fantasy, it’s hard for me to weed out the goods and the bads. I’ll have to look up the audio and see if the voice is to my liking :D thanks for the review
    Kat Stark @ Not Yet Read recently posted…Review: The Bloodbound by Erin LindseyMy Profile

  5. Oh I’m really glad you enjoyed this one Anya – reading your review reminded me that I’ve forgotten quite a bit about the story, a reread might be in order before jumping into Perilous Sea. So far, I’ve heard the sequel is a big improvement on this one so I’m excited! We’ll have to compare notes ;-D
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows recently posted…Review: Every BreathMy Profile

    • There are a lot of details to forget! So much magic and world details D: I’m hoping that Thomas includes reminders in book two for us >.>

  6. I just read the sequel and it does get better (IMO) I loved it. Hope to read your thoughts on the next book.
    Savannah recently posted…Giveaway: The Raven CycleMy Profile

  7. I want to read this book now! Sounds like there’s a lot to the magic and the world. I don’t like info dumping but learning on the fly can be hard to do. I’m glad you mentioned that he’s only ‘acting’ like a jerk, because I do miss things sometimes.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To GetMy Profile

    • Yes, so cool! Hehe, yeah, I noticed a couple of reviews that complained about how much of a jerk he was and I was all >.> *psst*it’s an act*psst* ;-)

  8. Hmm, that does seem like a really odd narrator choice, I wouldn’t imagine that at all. I’ll be curious to see what you think about the next book, I gave this one four stars too, but wasn’t in love with the second book, especially when it came to the romance. If you think the angst is bad now xD Nice review, Anya!
    Alise recently posted…Review: Geek Girl by Holly SmaleMy Profile

    • Oh no, not more angst!!!!! I might end up being able to ship them, I can’t tell yet >.> I kind of like that they have a weird fate keeping them apart problem *tortures characters and cackles* :D

  9. I’m glad there are way more strengths to this one then weaknesses. I may have to do like you and give the audio a go! gasp no not the music switch!! lol
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Jay Kristoff tells us Why Third Books are the Greatest!My Profile

    • Haha yes the music switch! Though I had to do that for Iron Druid Chronicles #3 tonight, so sometimes it’s just situational ;-). Definitely listen to the narrator first before buying though >.>

  10. This has been on my radar for some time but this is the first time I’ve read a review about it. Very excited!

  11. For all that I keep hearing generally positive reviews of this book, I don’t actually see that many reviews at all for it. Which makes me sad, because from everything I do hear, it seems like a book that ought to be getting more attention!
    Bibliotropic recently posted…Dangerous Games, edited by Jonathan OliverMy Profile

    • I feel like I saw a bunch of reviews for The Perilous Sea (it’s sequel) earlier this year and I’m just behind the times, haha!

  12. Oh it is a portal fantasy? I do about as well with Portal fantasy as I do dystopias. Still if you liked it I won’t throw it out completely.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Fantasy Review: ‘The Shotgun Arcana’ by R.S. BelcherMy Profile

    • Not really, or maybe in the opposite direction? They portal into our world that is somehow connected to theirs by magic >.>

  13. Oooh, I’m more excited about “The Burning Sky” now that I’ve read your review! And I’m glad to hear it sprinkles the world-building and backstory throughout, rather than dumping it all at the beginning. How soon do you think you’ll get to The Perilous Sea?
    Sara L. recently posted…Chronicling The Craft: 95,000 WordsMy Profile

    • Hmmm, the Perilous Sea could be a while. I have an eARC that I’d like to read, but I’m not reading many e-books right now since I’m not going to the gym. I’d like to say I’ll read it while traveling next week, but I’m saying that about five books at the moment >.>

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