Thursday, October 15, 2020

Book Review: The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Title: The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1)
Author: Evan Winter
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 544
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Review for book 2
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The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He's going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn't get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He'll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

I bought The Rage of Dragons earlier this year and patiently waited to find myself in the mood to read a 500+ page adult fantasy about a man obsessed with revenge. Alas, that mood has struck and I devoured this book and immediately preordered the next! It was THAT good.

The Rage of Dragons begins in Tau's small village (after a brief, dragon-filled prologue). We meet Tau and learn that he has no desire to fight in an army, that he has a plan to get out of it. Although this was only the beginning of the book, I sympathized with Tau immediately because of my own vaguely similar experiences.

I've seen a lot of criticism for Tau as an impulsive hothead, which he is, but his rage is understandable. His actions don't always make sense, but then I remember that he's a teenager who is grieving and I can forgive it. My favorite thing about this story is that, once the revenge plot begins, Tau isn't handed his power or strength - he works for it every step of the way. He's knocked down several pegs multiple times, but he always gets back up and tries harder.

The world building is another place where this book shines. I've never read a fantasy inspired by African cultures and it's rare to read one that's inspired by a pre-medieval world. This was a truly unique world and the magical system was so good! Admittedly, I was confused from time to time, trying to understand how the Guardians worked and how the Gifted used their power, but not enough to detract from my enjoyment.

Fair warning, this book is extremely violent and quite dark. The majority of it is combat training and actual combat, but I was enthralled from page one. Perhaps because of the almost constant action, this was one of the quicker adult fantasy books I've read. The writing definitely kept me hooked! I am counting down the days until book two arrives in my mailbox. If you're in the mood for an action-packed adult fantasy, pick this one up!