I enjoyed this book so much more than the previous one. (My review for The Burning Sky, book 1, can be found here.)
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.
I read this book in basically one day. I won’t say I was totally sucked in by the story or the writing–mainly I was really angry at one plot line and HAD to see it resolved. I still enjoyed reading the book, though, and the plot line I originally hated actually ended up adding to the story.
Chapters in this book alternate between two plot lines, one that runs sometime in the future after the other one. Okay, that’s kind of a confusing way to explain it. Basically, every other chapter is the plot line you expect: Iolanthe and Titus reunite at Eton and continue their quest to defeat the Bane. However, alternating between those chapters are chapters that take place sometime in the future that the original chapters are approaching as the book continues. This other plot line involves Iolanthe and Titus stranded in a desert–with no memory of who they are, except that they need to stay out of Atlantis’s grasp.
Though I didn’t expect to, I really enjoyed the “amnesia” plot line. I loved watching Iolanthe and Titus interact with each other (and fall in love, of course) when they had no idea who either of them were. Their banter remained, and the dramatic irony of the scenes made most of these chapters humorous in nature. Their flight from Atlantis made sure that the chapters were action-packed, and I loved seeing the two magicians figure out what they were capable of.
The Eton plot line was a lot more similar to the previous book’s plot. The dramatic reveal that the plot synopsis mentions pissed me off so much. I can’t believe the author did that. As I mentioned before, I basically hate read most of those chapters, just to see it resolved. The resolution added to the story: Iolanthe’s character faced an identity crisis that forced her to reevaluate her priorities, and Titus’s faith in his mother’s visions caused him strife. The “truth” of the plot line ended up being appropriately shocking. I guess I forgive Thomas for the plot line’s beginnings.
I loved the themes of paradox and memory loss that ran through the story. Seeing Iolanthe and Titus research and learn about memory spells in the Eton plot line added a sense of foreboding to the story, because of course that would be involved in the mysterious scene that connected the Eton plot to the amnesia/desert plot. We also got to learn more about Iolanthe and her past; unfortunately, this reveal was very convoluted and I was left confused even when all of the truth had come out.
The paradoxes created by visions of the future also presented conflict in The Perilous Sea. I love paradoxes, and I appreciate that Thomas addressed some of the issues Titus’s mother’s visions had in regards to reality. Without that portion of the plot, it would have felt like too much of the book was illogical; as it stands now, the illogical portions of the book add to the book with their acknowledged paradoxical nature.
I didn’t find there to be anything amazing about the writing of The Perilous Sea. It isn’t badly written, but there were no sentences or descriptions that really grabbed me and made me focus on their construction. The action scenes were dramatic and got my heart racing, and I liked the magical and fantasy elements in this book as much as I did in The Burning Sky. Some of the setting or fight scene descriptions got confusing, but for the most part I could understand what was going on. None of the background characters are exceedingly complex, but they added to the story enough that I didn’t care. There were a lot of reveals and plot twists, all of which surprised me at least a little. The ending of the book got me really excited for the next one, The Immortal Heights (I have to wait until October?!).
I would recommend this series to fans of YA fantasy who love action scenes and like dramatic plot twists (that they might hate at first).