Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being 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 greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus 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 Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life. Quoted from Goodreads Check out the trailer here: The Burning Sky.
First, I loved the characters. Iolanthe (okay, that name's a mouthful) and Titus are such great characters. The book's told in duel POV, and each voice very is distinct. Ioanthe is, in so many ways, your typical 16 year old girl. Her life hasn't been perfect, and she's not sure she really up for the hand destiny seems to be dealing her. The best part about her is her growth an change throughout the novel. She's never a weak, wimpy character, but neither is she a hero, and I loved watching her change and grow into her potential/destiny.
Then we have Titus. He's so utterly dedicated to his cause, it's awesome and kind of sad. Still, it makes him an excellent character. He's so completely good at what he does. Everything is planned out, every action, every word has a purpose. People like brilliant characters, and he is ruthless, calculating, and brilliant.
Their relationship is adorable. I love the romance. It's slow building (thank you, no insta-love) on both sides, with a solid foundation. Plus, it never overwhelms the book. It's a delightful development that plays a part in the larger story.
Speaking of story, I love the world Sherry Thomas has created. Yes, there could be more world-building, but I think this book has made an excellent beginning. Magic of different sorts abound, and I loved the contrast between their magical world and England circa 1880. I particularly enjoyed all the little end notes the author included with deeper insights into the history and the world, that you could read then or read later. It helped flesh out the book without slowing down the action with overlong exposition. The world feels unique, full of fun ideas and an overwhelming villain---well, sort of. This book the villain doesn't really appear until the end. Instead we get the villain's second in command (who is evil enough in her own right), which provides the perfect build-up for the first book, so we can save the best for last (I mean ,this is a trilogy).
Basically, this book has everything you could want in a fantasy. It's got the great evil, brilliant characters, rise of the underdog, romance, action, hidden identities, magic, and a quest against impossible odds. With the conclusion of Rae Carson's Girl of Fire and Thorn trilogy, I've been looking for a great fantasy series, at this could very well be it. I'm giving this book a strong 4.5 stars, and I can't wait for the next book to come out.