A book's characters can make or break a reading experience for many. So can the world-building. So can the plot. But readers don't have to worry about The Burning Sky lacking any of this content. It is all there and it is FUN. This was one of the most fun reading experiences I have had this year by far. In a year of mostly disappointments, this is definitely a book that is going to stand out as one that really made it all worthwhile. It's not perfect--I'll get to that in a bit--but it's definitely one that I recommend regardless of the flaws that I found. I think the best way for me to do this review is to divide it up into sections so I can talk about each element of the book separately. Not something I do with every book, but I feel like it works with fantasy the most.
Characters (4/5 dragons)- The characters were excellent: well-written, memorable, and loaded with personality. I have to say, even the villains were compelling. Well, except the Bane, but I think the author decided to keep him mysterious for a reason. This is a trilogy, after all. As for the protagonist, I really, REALLY liked her. She was fierce and intelligent, not weak at all. I mean it took her a while to perfect her magic so I guess she was weak in that sense, but I loved that about her. She was determined to get it right. And Titus? OMG. I loved him. He was the perfect YA love interest. And a bad-ass, and a bit of a bad boy, but not the creepy kind. It was all in his attitude. And the things he said to Iolanthe? Mmmmmm. Okay, I don't want to swoon too much because I am a grown-ass woman and that is creepy. But I ship these two together. I SHIP IT.
World-Building/Setting (3.5/5 dragons)- Obviously a lower rating for this, but why? Well, simply put, I loved the world-building, but I thought it could have been explained better. The beginning of the book was confusing for me and I've seen other readers mention it as well. You are kind of just dumped in the middle of the action and left to figure it out, and I don't like that because I don't like reading over passages. However, I thought the world and its inhabitants were super inventive and I liked the creativity quite a bit. The magical world is a bit difficult to decipher. Like how do you get from the mage world to the non-mage world and where exactly are they located with relation to each other? Explanations like this is what I was really missing.
Plot/Pacing (4/5 dragons)- The pacing was very wonky in the first 50 pages. There were pages where it felt like nothing happened and then it would pick up and go back to boredom again. And then there was the confusion I mentioned earlier. I liked what I was reading, but it took a bit for me to fall in love. But once I did, I was really involved in this story and Iolanthe and Titus' quest to save The Realm from the Inquisitor and The Bane. Also, there is no cliffhanger, and that is something I have to applaud since it IS a trilogy and a lot of them end in that way.
Writing/Imagery (3/5 dragons)- Here's where I am going to bitch a little. Obviously I liked the writing enough to rave about the book because I did love it. But...there were some serious clarity issues in the writing. If you are a visual reader like I am, you might have trouble. It was difficult to picture some things that were going on because the imagery didn't always work for me. There were times when I had to read over passages a couple times to get the gist of what the author was going for, and obviously if I have to do that I am yanked out of the narrative and I'm annoyed.
Overall (3.625 dragons)- Since we don't do half stars here, I am rounding it up to 4. Except on Book Likes where you can rate in half stars! Overall, I really enjoyed The Burning Sky and I will definitely be back for the next installment. I think now that a lot of confusion is out of the way, I think I may have less clarity issues with the sequel.