Monday, February 16, 2015

The Burning Sky Review: Iolanthe

I am an elemental mage.
A powerful one.
Born the night of a great meteor shower.

There is a prophesy apparently about me.
One I never knew existed.
One that mandates my destiny.

The Bane is the greatest tyrant the work has ever seen.
But he is powerful, indestructible.
And I'm destined to take him down.

The prince of the Domain, Titus, wishes to help me.
But he's keeping secrets from me, using me.
Using me to fulfill both our destinies.

It could very well be suicide.
For the both of us.

My name is Iolanthe Seabourne.
Hey guys! Today I'm the awesome element-wielding Iolanthe Seabourne!

Book: The Burning Sky
Author: Sherry Thomas
Series: The Elemental Trilogy
Book Status: Book 1
Setting: the Domain (fantasy world), but mainly London (1883)
Genre: YA fantasy
POV: 3rd person, told by Iolanthe and Titus

Reading: first time
Favorite part: when Titus stopped Iolanthe from looking at Sleeping Beauty, because he had modified Sleeping Beauty to look like Iolanthe, so that he could kiss her.
Rating: 5 Stars!!!

The remainder of this post will NOT be spoiler-free. Read at your own risk!!!

The items I wish to address: Iolanthe, Titus, the intertwining worlds, and the Crucible.

Iolanthe: elemental mage, and a very powerful one at that. I love how she was able to easily blend into the non-mage world (aka London) as Archer Fairfax. Her adaptability is pure amazing. When she made her first act as Archer Fairfax, I was right with Titus in biting my nails, hoping she would be able to pull off at least a semi-convincing act. And who knew, she pulled it off brilliantly. Completely convincing. She plays a boy rather well, being able to imitate the same smug, cocky persona of a normal teenage boy. And the way she thinks quick on her feet? That is pure grace under pressure. Remember when the Inquisitor was there with Master Haywood and Mrs. Oakbluff, and how that if either of those two showed any indication that they recognized her, it would all be over? The way Iolanthe chose not to run, instead taking a risky chance by seeking help from Wintervale's mother, who nearly murdered her last time, is an indication of how she thinks quick. And again, near the end, when she had to cover for Titus' missing person and throw off all the other boys in order to enter the Crucible to find him? Genius. And let's not forget how when she died in the Crucible by a wyvern, she came out afraid of them. But nearly immediately, she demanded to go back into the Crucible to face the wyvern again, to conquer her fear. That is yet another extremely admirable trait. Basically, Iolanthe is admirable in all ways and fronts.

Titus: Prince Titus VII, the Master of the Domain. He isn't your typical tormented-male-character-who-has-scary-powers-and-needs-someone-to-ground-him. Far from it. Titus is perfectly fine by himself, without any dramatic internal weaknesses or insecurities. He is already a powerful person, with a solid head on his shoulders. But he has had quite the difficult life, living it through various personas towards his own court. But all this is because he has a sense of purpose, and he knows that he can't have people getting too close to him without the chance of someone discovering his work. Especially since Atlantis is literally crawling up and down his back. So of course he plays the unmistakably rude, vain and selfish prince; everyone avoids him because of that, just what he wants. He's a really good person, even thought he's a little lonely by preparing for Archer Fairfax's arrival, but has a distinct end goal, which he will give anything to reach. Much like Iolanthe, he thinks quick on his feet. When he realized that the greatest elemental mage is actually a she, not a he, yes, he was initially in dismay, but Titus was quick to make adjustments and re-strategize his plans. He seemed like a bit of a jerk towards Iolanthe, but when you read his point of view, you can't help but see where he's coming from, and how he's actually trying to protect her. After all, he's spent practically most of his life after his mother's death preparing to receive her. It's amazing how he was able to weave a place for Archer Fairfax, the persona Iolanthe would take one day, and fool the entire school that they all knew and were friends with someone who didn't exist (until Iolanthe came to take his place). That, my friends, is very clever. Clever, I repeat. What I really like is that Titus has very strong morals and planning; he plans for a lot of worst-case scenarios, and he fully accepts that he will die soon and must give Iolanthe everything he can to help her. He has honor.

The intertwining worlds of the Domain and of the real world, aka the "non-mage" world: I really love how these two worlds co-exist with each other, even if the non-mage world doesn't know of the magical world. But Titus, being a prince of the Domain, is able to go to the non-mage world for school. I find that slightly ironic, as he clearly is better than all his other students being a) a master in magic and b) a prince of very high standing/ruler of an entire kingdom. But alas, that's the only safe place for him, being surrounded by non-mages who can't harm him. But the brilliance of this is that though he resides in the non-mage world, magic still works there. Both Iolanthe and Titus are able to use their normal magic in London, which means they're not completely defenceless there. There's a comforting feeling knowing that you have a secret weapon to get you out of situations if you ever truly need it. And unlike Harry Potter, there isn't some police force watching you to make sure you don't use magic against non-mages. Few mages go to the non-mage world, as they have to hide their powers, so there isn't really a huge restriction force. Which works very nicely in Titus and Iolanthe's favor.

The Crucible: this book is pure awesome. I really, really, really want one. It's a book of fairy tales, yes, but the fact that you can enter it and live through those events and fight off whatever monster is in it is MAGNIFICENT. Your mind enters it while your body stays wherever you were beforehand, and in the Crucible, the same properties of the real world apply, meaning magic works. Since Titus and Iolanthe can't exactly train with their magic in the non-mage world, all they have to do is enter the Crucible to train to their heart's content. Their body rests so that anyone looking will think they're simply asleep, while their minds are actually in the Crucible, where they are practising. You can pick and choose which fairy tale you want to go through, which ones you want to fight through (if that fairy tale has a battle to be fought, that is). But to add to this already-amazing book, there's also the teaching cantos, which is like the safe zone where all the people who owned the Crucible before are there and can teach you things they knew when they were alive. Not to mention that there also happens to be a big, massive, spiralling library (dubbed "the Reading Room") there too. Tell me that isn't pure genius. I officially want to live in the Crucible forever, fighting through stories and learning everything I can from the ancestors who reside in the teaching cantos. And spend endless days hiding in the library there, too. The Crucible would be my ultimate getaway from all the craziness of the world. Heck, I'd probably spend my entire nights in there, letting my body sleep while I go off to literally fight dragons and train. It would be my sanitary for sure.

This is definitely going up on my "best-fantasy-reads" shelf. Because it has everything I look for in a book: pure and raw elemental magic, coexisting world that intersects with the real world, romance, an ideal "fantasy" world I want to live forever and ever in (Crucible), romance, two main characters fighting destiny, magical creatures and events, a villain that refuses to die, EVERYTHING. It has a bit of everything I need, and I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

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