Garrik is the presumptive heir of Altan. He has the bearing to lead, but his Wytch powers have not yet manifested and without them he cannot claim the throne. That means the burden of rule will fall to his younger brother, Jaine, whose kind and gentle nature is not suited to the hardships of the throne. To protect his brother and to serve his kingdom, Garrik agrees to force his powers to awaken, which unleashes a beast that was never meant to be free.
Ilya serves as teacher to those students whose Wytch powers may become dangerous. He is well suited to the task since during his first transformation, he managed to slaughter an entire village. He’s been atoning for that moment for decades and has isolated himself from the world as a result. Save his interactions with students, he keeps himself hidden away, where his dragon can be controlled and safely managed. When Ilya is sent to teach Garrik about the violent dragon that now resides inside him, he has little hope he can save the boy. And if he cannot save him, he will have to destroy him, something llya dreads. But when his kingdom needs him most, Garrik will discover a strength he never realized existed and Ilya will find a reason to live again.
Burn the Sky is not a perfect book, but it is fun and engaging and a perfect fit for our New To Me Author Week as part of our Reading Challenge Month here at Joyfully Jay. From page one, Burn the Sky draws you in and never really shakes you loose. The first part of the book is stronger than the second and does an excellent job of setting up the world in which Garrik and llya live and the conflicts between the individual kingdoms and the all powerful and increasingly sinister Council. Garrik is portrayed as a young man who loves his kingdom and his younger brother, but finds himself trapped by archaic rules and a domineering father. During the second half of the book, Garrik comes off as a bit entitled and arrogant, which doesn’t really fit his character as a whole. I was never quite sure if he was acting this way as a result of his contentious relationship with Ilya or something else, but it didn’t work. He’s too kind and devoted to seem truly arrogant. Ilya is an uneven character and his cool, reclusive nature suits him. When the author tries to portray him as more emotional, it doesn’t ring true and only makes his character seem awkward. That said, together Ilya and Garrik are a magnificent fit. They are the equal in power and work as an elegant team. Though their romance is somewhat hurried, we are given the impression they are truly devoted to one another and suited to whether the hardships ahead.
Garrik’s mastery of his power is described as nearly impossible. Ilya is the only one in living memory to have managed it. Given this, I expected his training to be rigorous and challenging. And it was, but for too short a period. It seemed as though he went from being completely untrained to in control overnight and it didn’t feel very realistic. Additionally, the resolution to the book felt out of step with the rest of it. It read as hurried and awkwardly rendered. There is so much character building here, it’s almost as though the author forgot there was an actual plot to finish.
I thoroughly enjoyed Burn the Sky, which is the first in a series. It has some issues to be sure and doesn’t always read as smoothly or completely as it should, but the characters are engaging and the story engrossing. If you enjoy fantasy and can look past a few stumbling blocks, Burn the Sky is worth your time.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New to Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One winner will win a set of Advanced Review Copies before the books are released (or if it is a non-U.S. winner, an electronic copy of the books upon release). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New to Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes!