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Literature / The Elemental Trilogy

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The Elemental Trilogy is a Young Adult Fantasy trilogy by Sherry Thomas.

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being 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 greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus 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 Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.


It consists of:

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

This series provides examples of:

  • Amnesiac Hero: Iolanthe and Titus spend half of The Perilous Sea as this after a self-inflicted Mind Wipe.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Following news of the Bane's demise, the Domain spends the next 48 hours in celebration.
  • Arc Words: "Fortune favors the brave, and the brave makes their own fortunes."
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Lady Callista, an agent of Atlantis.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Bane isn't known as the most powerful mage alive for nothing.
  • Bad Boss: The Bane kills hundreds of his own soldiers on the chance they might expose his use of sacrificial magic to Atlantis.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Iolanthe and Titus do not get along at first, primarily due to Titus duping Iolanthe into a blood oath. By the end of the series, their bickering is mainly used to show affection.
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  • Big Bad: The Bane.
  • Blood Oath: Occurs a few times throughout the trilogy, particularly in The Burning Sky, when Titus tricks Iolanthe into making one.
  • The Bully: Trumper and Hogg towards Titus and Iolanthe in The Burning Sky.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Bane, if this brief exchange is any indication.
    Iolanthe: Your real name is Pyrrhos Plouton, you nasty old man.
    The Bane: About to be an even nastier, even older man, thanks to you.
  • The Chosen One: Iolanthe. Or so it seems.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Immortal Heights, compared to its predecessors, is far heavier on the violence and features a higher death toll than the previous two combined.
  • Dragon Rider: The Bane's contingent of wyvern riders.
  • The Empire: Atlantis, an oppressive dictatorship run by a Sorcerous Overlord obsessed with immortality by any means necessary.
  • Evil Overlord: The Bane, though he puts up the thin veneer of being a benevolent dictator.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Bane is a powerful mage who utilizes taboo magical spells, in particular sacrificial magic.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • The Inquisitor used to be a simple assistant girl before the Bane chose her to act as his acolyte, recognizing her abilities as a mind mage, essentially making her the most powerful person in the Domain.
    • The Bane used to be a simple mage named Pyrrhos Plouton living in a poor country on the brink of collapse. That is, until he became afflicted by a deadly illness and, in desperation, resorted to using sacrificial magic to save himself, sacrificing his best friend in the process. Then he changed his name to Palaemon Zephyrus, started the Zephyrus clan, and ultimately gathered an army of followers with whom he led into conquering the mage world.
  • Grand Theft Me: The Bane has been forced to resort to this due to his original body having long become too mangled to be used. He has anyone who bears a close resemblance to him kidnapped and uses their bodies as spares; if one body gets killed, he can simply fall back on another.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Bane kills hundreds of his soldiers when Titus reveals his usage of taboo sacrificial magic.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Several in The Immortal Heights:
    • Haywood performs a "last-mage-standing" spell to buy the rest of the group time to escape.
    • Amara takes the form of Iolanthe to trick the Bane into sacrificing her instead. It doesn't work.
  • Humongous Mecha: The Bane has a giant mechanical serpent that he uses to guard his fortress.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Prince Titus has this with his father, possessed by the Bane. It works.
  • Immortality Immorality: The Bane obtains his immortality by regularly abducting elemental mages and using them in sacrificial magic. He previously sacrificed his friend and entire family.
  • It's All About Me:
    • The Bane will sacrifice anyone, including his own family, to retain his immortality.
    • Lady Callista cares solely for her own reputation, and will use and manipulate anyone to achieve her own ends.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Callista's primary character trait is her ability to manipulate others to serve her own needs.
  • The Mole: Aramia in The Immortal Heights joins the heroes on their quest to kill the Bane while secretly carrying a tracer to lure the Bane's forces to them, out of a desire to free her mother.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Aramia has a minor one in The Immortal Heights when she learns what the Bane intends to do with Iolanthe, having lured his forces to their location.
  • Offing the Offspring: One of the first people the Bane sacrificed was his own son and daughter.
  • Off with His Head!: How the Bane is killed.
  • Parental Substitute: Profesfor Haywood to Iolanthe.
  • Portal Book: The Crucible.
  • Puppet King: Prince Alectus, Titus' uncle, nominally rules over the Domain, but is really nothing more than a puppet for Atlantis.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Bane has lived for over two centuries by sacrificing young elemental mages to prolong his life.
  • Seers: Titus' mother, Ariadne, was one.
  • Shock and Awe: Iolanthe's primary ability is her power over lightning. It's also what exposes her as an elemental mage.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: The Bane is the Lord High Commander of Atlantis, as well as the most powerful mage the world has ever seen.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Due to entering Eton College, an all-boys school, Iolanthe is forced to disguise herself as a boy, going by the name Archer Fairfax.
  • Switched at Birth: Attempted. Lady Callista attempted to have Aramia and Iolanthe switched in infancy to hide her affair with Wintervale, but the two were switched back by Commander Rainstone.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Lady Wintervale cast an execution curse on her adulterous husband, Baron Wintervale, in retaliation for him selling out her friend Princess Ariadne to the Bane, resulting in her death. The murder left her so traumatized that it drove her to partial insanity.
  • Targeted Human Sacrifice: The Bane annually abducts the most powerful elemental mage of their time to be sacrificed, extending his lifespan. This year, it is Iolanthe.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Trumper and Hogg.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: Lady Wintervale murdered her husband in retaliation for him betraying Prince Ariadne and getting her killed.
  • Truth Serum: Atlantis commonly administers this to those being interrogated by the Inquisitory.
  • Tyrannicide: Titus' main goal is assisting Iolanthe in killing the Bane and freeing the mage world of his tyranny. Ultimately, it is Kashkari, not Iolanthe, who ends up striking the killing blow.
  • Virtual Training Simulation: The Crucible functions as both this and a means of teleportation.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Bane sacrificed his nine-year-old granddaughter in the past, solely to prolong his life.
  • You Killed My Father: The main reason Titus seeks to kill the Bane; he executed Titus' mother, Ariadne.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Baron Wintervale had an affair with Lady Callista, producing Aramia, an event the latter attempted to cover up.

Example of: