The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2)
The Perilous Sea is, if anything, an improvement upon The Burning Sky. It’s a fantasy novel with a ship of gold, epic banter, and oodles of world building.
You guys, this is such a Christina book. So much. The sarcastic banter completes my life and makes it whole. Titus can be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, much as I love him. Iolanthe, however, brings out the best in him, aka the sarcastic banter. I ship this ship like little else. They really do make an amazing team. They work together and protect each other and improve one another. It’s so beautiful. Normally I hate the “I’ll protect you” shtick in books, but that’s because it’s generally one-sided penises-must-protect-vaginas business, but Iolanthe also says that to Titus and the cute. Also, the two make dick jokes while traveling around the desert. If you don’t ship that, we’ll probably never ever see eye to eye on a ship, let’s be real.
I’ll admit that I was a bit confused as The Perilous Sea opened, and you probably will be too. It didn’t help that it had been ages since I read The Burning Sky and there have been hundreds of books in between. Plus, this world has a LOT going on. The Perilous Sea starts with Titus and Iolanthe in the Sahara Desert, both with no memory of anything before; the only thing they know is that they need to escape Atlantis. Whuuuuut.
This will make sense, though, I promise. The Perilous Sea runs along two timelines, the desert and the time before the desert. I know this technique annoys some people who don’t like flashbacks, but it totally worked for me. Because of this, we get to be carried through some relationship problems between Titus and Iolanthe by them bantering and falling in love again despite not knowing each other. MY FEELS. I mean, I also love that they have relationship problems to work through, because hello realistic.
One of the main criticisms I’ve seen of The Burning Sky is that people are so sick of the whole Chosen One thing. That’s not my favorite trope either, to be honest; I actually just reamed a book I finished yesterday for this trope. However, with The Perilous Sea, you’ll discover that Sherry Thomas also has some thoughts on the chosen one trope and they are beautiful. Things are not as simple as just following a prophecy, okay.
I’m sort of undecided on the world building. Sometimes I’m completely in love with it. I mean, the elemental powers are so cool, but I am admittedly a total sucker for such things. The Bane is creepy as all get out, possibly because he recalls Voldemort pretty strongly in how hard he is to kill. There are magic carpets and dragons and wands and basically every cool fantasy thing ever.
What Left Me Wanting More:
On the other hand, that’s a lot of stuff. The fact that the Elemental Trilogy is also set in the 1800s in an alternative history with magic is something I don’t know what to do with. I think the world building would be way easier to swallow if it were just in a fantasy world. However, half of the book is set in Eton. I don’t understand at all the divisions between the magical world and the nonmage world. Is the Sahara in the mage world or is it just unpopulated enough they feel safe doing tons of magic there? I could not begin to tell you. Then there’s the Crucible, the book that Titus and company can travel into for training. Mostly, it’s a safe space but in some areas you can die for real and there have been showdowns there in both books and that also is weird and wut.
What it boils down to though is that I really don’t care, honestly. I love the characters and the writing and the banter and the plot so much that I am completely willing to let some of the world building slide. The ending was intense and totally hurt my feels. The twist actually surprised me. The ROMANCE. The fact that Kashkari got to have a large role in this one, because I love him so much. Basically, this series is boss, unless you’re more of a world building reader than a character reader. You’ve been warned.
The Final Verdict:
If you like your fantasy filled with romance that will make you squee from the amazing bantery connection, then you need Sherry Thomas’ Elemental Trilogy in your life. ASAP.