The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The basics

Title: The Burning Sky


Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1

- The Burning Sky (September 2013)
- The Perilous Sea (September 2014)
- The Immortal Heights (September 2015)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Read a full summary of The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Burning Sky and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

This recap was written by our wonderful sidekick, Adelena @ A Page of Heaven! Thank you so much!

in short

Iolanthe, an elemental mage, teams up with Prince Titus, Master of the Domain, to defeat the Bane, a powerful tyrant mage ruling over many mage realms. Titus was prophesied to die in his mission to take down the Bane but continued to fulfill his destiny despite the foretold outcome. Through their training and adventures, Iolanthe and Titus started to develop feelings for each other and the book ended with the death of the Inquisitor and the Bane (who inexplicably resurrected after a day or two), leading to Iolanthe and Titus preparing for another attempt on his life.

what happened in The Burning Sky?

  • Master Haywood, Iolanthe’s guardian, destroys the light elixir she made for an upcoming wedding and she tries to salvage it by using lightning.
  • Prince Titus and the Inquisitor (a lackey of the Bane) both see the lightning and head over to Iolanthe’s location.
  • Master Haywood tells Iolanthe Atlantis, the empire that conquered a bunch of mage realms, is after her.
  • Titus reaches Iolanthe before the Inquisitor does and sends her to London (in the real world, AKA a non-mage realm) via a one-way portal trunk.
  • Titus escapes the Inquisitor and heads to England where he attends school at Eton College.
  • Titus finds Iolanthe in London, where they had an unpleasant encounter with Lady Wintervale. He reveals to Iolanthe that the Bane (ruler of Atlantis) is after her and her powers.
  • Iolanthe, disguised as a boy named Archer Fairfax, agrees to attend Eton College with Titus in order to hide from Atlantis.
  • She discovers Titus had ulterior motives in aiding her (he needed her help to defeat the Bane), straining their relationship.
  • However, due to her desperate situation, she agreed to swear a blood oath where she will help him make an attempt on the Bane’s life in exchange of him doing his best to help rescue Master Haywood, who was imprisoned at the Inquisitory.
  • Titus starts training Iolanthe in his Crucible, a private alternate world/venture-book of sorts accessible via a book passed down through his ancestors.
  • The Inquisitor requests to meet Titus at a gala, he brings Iolanthe (disguised as his canary) along.
  • Titus was brought to the Inquisitory for questioning by the Inquisitor and he discovers he had secretly been given truth serum.
  • The Inquisitor (a mind mage) starts digging through Titus’s mind, causing him to start losing consciousness. Iolanthe saves the day by using air to knock a porcelain sphere off a chandelier, hitting the Inquisitor in the head.
  • Titus and Iolanthe proceeds to hide in a hotel where he shows her his late mother’s journal of visions and revealed she had seen a vision of his death in which he had been close to his current age.
  • They return to Eton College and found out the Inquisitor is still unconscious back in the Domain.
  • Titus starts planning of ways to kill the Inquisitor in order to protect the fact that Iolanthe is with him.
  • During a training session, Iolanthe convinces Titus to let her try the Sleeping Beauty story in the Crucible and is killed by wyverns.
  • She immediately gives it a second attempt despite being traumatized and almost made it to Sleeping Beauty’s chamber despite Titus’s protests (because Titus had given Sleeping Beauty Iolanthe’s appearance).
  • He tackles her to the ground before she reached the chamber. They kiss. Then he states they can’t have such “unnecessary emotions” between them lest it thwarts their main mission.
  • The Inquisitor, along with an entourage, makes a surprise appearance at Eton College the next day, disguised as Titus’s subjects and relatives requesting to meet and greet all of his peers. Master Haywood and Nettle Oakbluff were brought along to identify Iolanthe.
  • Iolanthe finds out about the unexpected visit and tries to vault elsewhere, only to discover Eton College was turned into a temporary no-vaulting zone.
  • She escaped through Wintervale’s wardrobe and went to seek Lady Wintervale for help.
  • Iolanthe, known as Archer Fairfax, proceeds to greet the Inquisitor and her entourage, much to Titus’s shock. Master Haywood and Nettle Oakbluff did not recognize her as Lady Wintervale hid somewhere and aimed a torrent of spells at the two which stopped them from accessing old memories and gaining new ones.
  • Afterwards, Titus discovered from his mother’s journal that she had a vision of Titus hiding in the Citadel library and having something to do with the Inquisitor’s death.
  • Due to Eton becoming a no-vaulting zone, Titus uses the crucible as a portal to travel to his Citadel in the Domain. On the way in the Crucible, he discovers Helgira, a famous historical elemental mage who controlled lightning, looked exactly like Iolanthe.
  • Back at Eton, Iolanthe discovers Titus was missing and his mother’s vision which was in her visions journal. She enlists a friend, Kashkari to help hide Titus’s disappearance while she, too, used the Crucible as a portal to track him down.
  • Upon reaching the Citadel library, Titus found the Bane, the Inquisitor, and Master Haywood present. Before he could attempt to save Master Haywood, Master Haywood suddenly vanishes into thin air.
  • Seeing as he could do nothing else, Titus escaped via the Crucible but got injured while in it, which caused the copy of the Crucible in the Citadel library to start bleeding.
  • Titus had to pass through Black Bastion, Helgira’s stronghold on his way back to his Crucible in Eton.
  • On his way there via flying on a wyvern, the Bane and the Inquisitor appeared behind him riding a phantom behemoth, an extremely powerful and terrifying creature of myth.
  • Titus directs a death spell at the Inquisitor which kills her.
  • Meanwhile, Iolanthe, disguised as Helgira, stood on Helgira’s tower balcony and saw Titus and the Bane approaching Black Bastion.

how did it end?

Iolanthe used elemental magic to save Titus and defeat the Bane. They kiss.

With the help of Kashkari, Titus had a fake alibi that he was at Eton during the time of the Inquisitor’s death and hence Atlantis assumes he had nothing to do with it.
Titus releases Iolanthe from their blood oath, giving her the free will to choose whether or not she wanted to continue helping him defeat the Bane (who had mysteriously resurrected like every other time he had been killed in action). The book ended with Iolanthe and Titus preparing to head back to the Domain.

anything else?

Elemental mage: someone who can control the elements of air, water, fire, or earth. The more elements an elemental mage can control, the rarer they are.
Vaulting: a teleportation ability a possessed by most mages but subject to various limitations.
The Crucible: a sort of venture-book passed down through the heirs of the House of Elberon where one may train in as it imitates the physical laws of the real world to the tee. One won’t die when killed in the Crucible but if one used it as a portal and get killed, it will result in one’s real death too.
The Bane: the tyrant and powerful mage ruling Atlantis.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


  • Thank you guys so much for doing these recaps! I had totally forgotten what happened in the Burning Sky, but not anymore! 🙂

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