The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #2)
Published September 16, 2014 by Balzer + Bray, 448 pp.
Iolanthe and Titus continue their mission to defeat the Bane in this striking sequel to The Burning Sky—perfect for fans of Cinda Williams Chima and Kristin Cashore—which Publishers Weekly called “a wonderfully satisfying magical saga” in a starred review and Kirkus Reviews said “bids fair to be the next big epic fantasy success.”
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that throws into question everything he believed about their mission. Faced with this revelation, Iolanthe struggles to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—or forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
Seriously, Titus can have my heart anytime. Take it, take it I say! Now that’s out of the way, I have to say I like this second book in the Elemental Trilogy! It didn’t lack action, there’s character growth, and the romance in this series is probably one of my favourites already.
I’d suggest skipping the summary altogether so everything still remains a bit of a mystery. And as always, if y’all would like an abridged version, head to the TL;DR at the bottom! 😀
The Perilous Sea picks up in a new school year at Eton College: Iolanthe, once again taking the cover of Archer Fairfax, and Titus resuming his role as an aloof and cold prince from an obscure European monarchy. Their quest to bring down the Bane hits a snag when Titus witnesses an event closely mirroring his mother’s vision – and this one matches it down to the letter. Convinced that the new “Chosen One” is definitely, truly his final option as the great elemental mage of their time, he sets out to train the mage. Iolanthe suddenly finds herself without direction: with her supposed destiny now in someone else’s hands, she’s lost. Or at least until she realises she doesn’t need to be the One to help Titus. As for Titus, he slowly realises that maybe, just maybe, his mother’s diary need not dictate every step he takes.
This reminds me of why I liked The Burning Sky so much: it’s a great blend of action and romance – with Titus delivering a healthy dose of the latter. This also focuses on Titus and his dogged determination to see the events his mother foretold come true – but in The Perilous Sea, I think he realises that the diary isn’t infallible. Rather, the way he’s interpreted it so far is way off the mark. After all, if he “chose” the wrong person to fulfil “The Chosen One’s” shoes, what else has he gotten wrong?
A big plot point in this book is, of course, the possibility that Titus did interpret his mother’s visions incorrectly. I like that this is brought up because Titus has relied heavily so far on the diary, and in the first book we’re supposed to take Iolanthe-as-Chosen-One as a certainty. But as mentioned earlier, the visions outlined are open heavily into interpretation depending on the circumstances, and depending on who is reading them.
Once you do read the summary though, it’s easy to guess where this is going. So skip the summary altogether! I found that this detracted from my reading a bit because I knew what was going to happen. But I do like the way this plot point brought together everyone. Sure Iolanthe and Titus did have a bit of a divide at first, but I think in the time they were apart, they did realise some things they otherwise wouldn’t have if it had all been smooth sailing.
This also got a bit talky at times – especially around the chapter where Mrs. Hancock makes an appearance, and when Kashkari reveals his background – but overall the action and magic is still there. The focus of this book though is the development of Iolanthe and Titus as characters, and their relationship as well.
I like that for the most part, they were pretty level-headed about their situation – their feelings were understandable, and they didn’t dwell on their respective plights (Titus possibly not being able to keep Iolanthe by his side, and Iolanthe suddenly feeling abandoned and used). I can see why Titus relies so much on his mother’s diary, and why Iolanthe suddenly feels adrift – I think this shows that Sherry Thomas has done a great job fleshing out her characters and giving them all solid backstories and motives.
Honestly, Titus steals the show again in this one. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s like Titus has a broader view of everything going on, and maybe he does, because he is the one orchestrating everything. I could barely feel Iolanthe in comparison – especially in the Eton parts. At least in the Sahara half, she holds her own better and feels more present.
Of course, the romance hits a snag in this book. Iolanthe feels used, and now that she’s apparently lost her utility value to Titus, she now thinks that whatever feelings he may have confessed to before may have been a lie just to get her to cooperate. Titus, on the other hand, puzzles over how to keep Iolanthe beside him, which I honestly don’t get. Because is that the only way Iolanthe can be with you? Can’t she help any other way? I think they both go past the ways Iolanthe can help because they’re both so focused on Titus’ mother’s visions.
I like that they both mature after this – it isn’t so much that there needs to be a Chosen One, rather the willingness the person has in order to accomplish the goal. Because while one person can be the Chosen One, if their heart isn’t in it, they won’t go very far. And with this Titus realises that maybe he doesn’t have to follow everything in his mother’s diary to the letter.
Also, despite the rift between them, Titus still manages to make me swoon:
The night you were born, stars fell. The day we met, lightning struck. You are my past, my present, my future. My hope, my prayer, my destiny.
I— I can’t. It’s so cheesy. Yet it makes me swoon. How does Titus do it?
Also him, when he first sees Iolanthe after a brief period of tense separation (not of their own choice this time):
She drew up even with Titus. The pleasure of her nearness was almost painful. And when she set her hand on his shoulder, the sensation was all electricity.
“Glad you made it, Fairfax,” he said, as quietly as he could.
Now he could breathe again. Now he was whole again.
I just— please. And with those two lines, I think you can tell Sherry Thomas writes historical romance novels.
This also has shifting POVs, like the first book, but unlike The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea has shifting timelines as well. It works out well: it’s not confusing, and the different timelines build on each other as the book goes along. So does this book have second-book syndrome? I’d say not – admittedly it isn’t as action-packed as the first one, but I’d say this focuses more on the characters and their goals and relationships as they go along trying to defeat the Bane.
I like The Perilous Sea – it’s a bit predictable but still very enjoyable, especially if you loved the first book. Also, if you like guys that have lines to make you swoon, read this. Titus just might be your guy.
A bit predictable, especially once you see the summary, but I still enjoyed seeing how it all played out!
One extra star for Titus, because I am admittedly biased, lol. And there is character growth!
As usual, still giving me all the feelings. I like that Titus is the one who is open about his feelings regarding Iolanthe; I find it refreshing.