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26 September 2015

Book(s) Review | The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea, and The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas | Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins | 2013 -2015 | Hardcover $17.99

★ ★ ★ ★

This review is based on an e-ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss .... 

I'm so happy to be able to share my thoughts about these series with you!

You see, last year I was lucky enough part of a library association book list group and we received many titles for consideration. Several of these books were just fantastic -- but I couldn't tell you about them! The rules of the committee included a prohibition against sharing any opinions of eligible books and details of deliberations online. Which is fine and normal for that sort of thing. But I did feel a little bit of regret about not being able to share some of the more awesome books with y'all.

Anyway, I'm no longer on that committee (my job changed, which disqualified me from further participation). Which means that gag order no longer applies... which means I can talk about this fantastic series!

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Here's a quick summary of the first book in the series, The Burning Sky —

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.

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First of all, I'm a sucker for fast-paced high fantasy featuring independent leading ladies with a quick wit. Throw in some fairy tale retellings and a Victorian era boys' boarding school, and I am all over this like my dumb dog on a cat that clearly doesn't want to be friends with him white on rice.

I'm also OK with a bit of romance, so long as it isn't insta-love or abusive or pointlessly objectifying -- and the romance in this series is just fine. But even though Sherry Thomas is known for her adult romance books, this series isn't too heavy on the lovey-dovey stuff. It's done well, but it isn't obtrusive.

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My main criticism is that there is way too much deus ex machina  going on here.

Need to get out of the city but all the normal magical transportation options are closed to you? Luckily your trusty sidekick just happened to set up a private exit that will work for you and all your friends! Need to make yet another a getaway and your only option is a boat? It's so convenient that you spent all those years practicing sailing, even though you never bothered to mention it before now! And now your enemies have somehow figured out where you're hiding again? Turns out your ancient artifact has a connected artifact that they can use to track you (which you apparently knew about but it didn't matter until the third book)! (Although I guess that last one would be a diabolus ex machina instead.)

The thing is, there's quite a lot of foreshadowing an set-up that went into this plot, too, so that I frequently had those , "Oh! I should have guessed that! Very clever!" feelings that I find so enjoyable when reading. So it's just frustrating when something randomly comes up or a character just happens to know something out of the blue with no indication of its existence previously... well, maybe this is just a pet peeve of mine.

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The final book in the trilogy, The Immortal Heights, is coming out in October (which is why I'm doing this review now). It's kind of hard to talk about the final book of a series while avoiding spoilers for the first two, but I'll try.

The first two books are all about setting the stage for the final great act of rebellion against Atlantis. In the final book, that's what we get -- the culmination of all the efforts of our heroes. All the blood, sweat, and tears that have been shed in this story so far have been leading up to this. And there will be more blood, etc. shed before it's over.

Let me again emphasize the clever foreshadowing and the well-developed relationships, because those things become SUPER AWESOME in this last book. Like, Sherry Thomas was definitely not just phoning it in on this last installment.

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The Elemental Trilogy is just a good, solid teen epic fantasy story. It could easily have tipped over into a boring mess of trope soup, but I think the author's previous experience with adult romance novels ensured that it didn't get too bogged down and the characters stayed interesting throughout the three books.

Highly recommended for fans of Tamora Pierce, Rae Carson, Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, etc.

For more info about Sherry Thomas and her other books, visit her website ....

Publication information:
Thomas, Sherry. The Burning Sky. New York: Blazer + Bray, 2013. Print.
Thomas, Sherry. The Perilous Sea. New York: Blazer + Bray, 2014. Print.
Thomas, Sherry. The Immortal Heights. New York: Blazer + Bray, 2015. EPUB.

Publisher (The Burning Sky, print)
Public library (The Perilous Sea, print)
Publisher (The Immortal Heights, e-book via Edelweiss)

I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.

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