The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)
Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people's only hope for survival.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.

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1) Details

TitleThe Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 16th, 2019
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780316489768
Rating
GenreFantasy, Dragons, Fiction, Adult

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning, #1) Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5 starsThe Rage of Dragons is a blazing African-inspired epic fantasy debut that was so possessive of my attention, it simply wouldn’t allow me to read anything else until I finished it.This book was originally self-published and released in September 2017. Honestly speaking, I have seen and known about this book since then but the book wasn’t able to move up the monstrosity that is my TBR tower for some reason. However, its acquisition by Orbit, which resulted in a brand new gorgeous cover 4.5/5 starsThe Rage of Dragons is a blazing African-inspired epic fantasy debut that was so possessive of my attention, it simply wouldn’t allow me to read anything else until I finished it.This book was originally self-published and released in September 2017. Honestly speaking, I have seen and known about this book since then but the book wasn’t able to move up the monstrosity that is my TBR tower for some reason. However, its acquisition by Orbit, which resulted in a brand new gorgeous cover art done by the ingenious Karla Ortiz, is a total cover seller—look at the Zulu shield and the intricately apt mural in the cover!—that practically screamed “Buy and read me now” to me, and so that’s what I did. “I'd rather live with a thing done poorly than do nothing and always wonder how things could have been.” I believe that the ARC of the book is on its way to me at the moment. Even with that information in mind, knowing that the ebook was already available to purchase (physical copies will be out in July) I bought it to give my support to the author. I was only going to read a few chapters but I ended up being completely hooked and read through it like Sonic the Hedgehog being lured by infinite golden coins; it was too addictive to stop. Let me just say this again before I begin my review. The equation is simple; a fantasy debut published by Orbit these days is for me equal to “I want it.” I haven’t been disappointed at all by the adult fantasy debuts released by Orbit—Kings of the Wyld, Age of Assassins, Jade City, Senlin Ascends, and The Gutter Prayer—over the past few years and The Rage of Dragons once again continues that trend. “That’s the price. Life is nothing more than moments in time. To achieve greatness, you have to give up those moments. You have to give your life to your goal.” The Rage of Dragons is an African (Xhosa) inspired epic fantasy debut by Evan Winter, and it is the first installment in The Burning quartet. The people of Omehi have been caught in an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years, and the story revolves around our main character, the young and gift-less Tau. Tau is determined to just settle down, get married, and live in peace. However, an unfortunate event causes his entire motivation to shift towards the path of vengeance. I really suggest going into this book without knowing about the story, but if you want to know more, the blurb on Goodreads and Amazon is there for you to check out.At its core, the main theme of the novel is revenge. The best comparison I can think of for this book is Pierce Brown’s sci-fi debut, Red Rising. Don’t get me wrong, the prose is totally different in style and there aren’t any sci-fi elements in this book; but the story progression, the injustice in a social hierarchy, the explosive pacing, and the main character truly made me feel like I was reading Red Rising, which I highly loved. As with Darrow—the main character from Red Rising, I wouldn’t say that I love Tau as the main character, but both Tau and Darrow have this crucial entertaining element for me; they are utterly compelling main characters. Tau is a person with indomitable determination; guided by palpable fury and rage on his road to revenge, his resolve was simply unbending and even though I didn’t really like some of his actions and certain elements of his personality, I found his motivations to be realistically believable and worth reading. “I can't imagine a world where the man holding a sword does not have the last say over the man without one. If you’re not prepared to fight, you place yourself and everything you love beneath the blades of others, praying they choose not to cut. I have felt the mercy of armed men and they will never find me helpless again." Told mostly from Tau’s third-person perspective narrative, the accessible prose that never gets in the way of the story enhanced the engrossing flow of the book. Although the storyline was a bit predictable, I found the execution and pacing to be absolutely brilliant. There was always something going on; it was fast-paced, incredibly engaging, and brimming with tension. If I have to choose the most outstanding aspect of the book, it would definitely be the battle scenes. It’s been so long since I’ve read a debut with close-quarter battle scenes of the high caliber featured within this novel; it felt like reading Abercrombie’s gritty action sequences. Every battle was easy to follow, gripping, and vivid. The heart-pounding actions never stop escalating until the climax sequences. Believe me, there was a barrage of awesome duels, and I simply can’t get enough of them. Winter combines cinematic scenes and economical characterizations wonderfully. There was never any moment where the characters were just fighting emotionlessly like robots. The brief respites between one danger and the next were very efficiently utilized for characterizations and emphasizing characters’ motivations clearly. “It was the purity of it, the honesty. When Tau sparred, it was just him and his opponent. All that mattered was experience, skill, determination, and will. The rest of the world slipped away, leaving only the next move, the next counter, the next attack, the next victory. The magic system and the demonic aspect of the book were both clever and felt refreshing. I also loved reading every section that involved Isihogo; I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself. Admittedly, I had two minor issues with the book that prevented me from giving it a full 5 stars rating. The first was that it took some time for me to get used to the in-world terminologies. There were only a few explicit explanations and it’s up to the reader to understand what each term meant through the context of the story; there was a quite lot and in my opinion, a glossary would help. Although by the end I have understood almost all of them, it took half of the book for me to get a grasp on what most of the words/terms/honorifics meant. The other issue was that I feel the book would’ve benefited from more noteworthy female characters, especially after considering how the female characters in this series have the potential to be extremely powerful and flawed in personality. There were only two noteworthy female characters throughout the whole book and one of them appeared only near the end. That being said, seeing the way the story concluded in the first book, there’s a huge chance the second issue I had with the book will be redeemed in the next installment and I highly look forward to it. In the grander scheme of things, my rating speaks for itself and these minor cons only slightly diminish my overall enjoyment of the book. “The days without difficulty are the days you do not improve.” This was my first experience with reading African-inspired epic fantasy and I want more. Evan Winter is another new fantasy voice to watch out for; his voice deserves to be heard and his book deserves to be read. If you’re still on the fence about this, let the flame of the dragons burn that dilemma to ash. The Rage of Dragons is a breathtaking fantasy debut that triggered tons of adrenaline rush in me. I immensely enjoyed reading it and upon completion, I’m seriously in pain over the fact that the sequel isn’t out yet. The second book is now on my priority list of anticipated books. I highly recommend The Rage of Dragons to anyone who loves reading a fast-paced revenge story with great characterizations for the main character. More importantly, if you love reading fantasy with well-written battle scenes, there's a huge chance that this book is for you.Official release date for the physical copies: July 18, 2019 (UK) and July 16, 2019 (US)You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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  • Evan Winter
    January 1, 1970
    I think it's great, but then I wrote it, and my mother always said I should be proud of myself and the things I accomplish. I'm very proud of this. Maybe too proud. You be the judge. Though, you're most likely to have a good time if you enjoy Robert Jordan's expansive worlds, Brandon Sanderson's detailed magic systems, Joe Abercrombie's gritty combat, and Pierce Brown's page-burning pace of action. My goal was to write something that I would, as a reader, love. The joke is that, since I'm the on I think it's great, but then I wrote it, and my mother always said I should be proud of myself and the things I accomplish. I'm very proud of this. Maybe too proud. You be the judge. Though, you're most likely to have a good time if you enjoy Robert Jordan's expansive worlds, Brandon Sanderson's detailed magic systems, Joe Abercrombie's gritty combat, and Pierce Brown's page-burning pace of action. My goal was to write something that I would, as a reader, love. The joke is that, since I'm the one who wrote the book, I've lost the distance needed to know if I'd actually like it. But, I am proud of it. I think it's good. More important, what do you think?Evan Winter
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  • Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
    January 1, 1970
    The Rage of Dragons is an African inspired revenge fantasy novel. This is worthy of attention in and of itself, simply because fantasy is dominated by white male authors who write about white male characters. Admittedly I enjoy reading such books, though it’s refreshing to see more diverse books appearing in the fantasy genre in recent years. There are other voices out there, and they really are worth listening to. The story begins in the middle of a battle, which sets the tone for the martial f The Rage of Dragons is an African inspired revenge fantasy novel. This is worthy of attention in and of itself, simply because fantasy is dominated by white male authors who write about white male characters. Admittedly I enjoy reading such books, though it’s refreshing to see more diverse books appearing in the fantasy genre in recent years. There are other voices out there, and they really are worth listening to. The story begins in the middle of a battle, which sets the tone for the martial focus for the book. There is so much action and so much struggle for victory across these pages. Dragons are the absolute last resort, a weapon that should only be used when there is no other choice because it is such a terribly powerful one. The prologue captures this very quickly, and as the book progresses the significance of that first scene is later expanded upon with a great amount of detail which really helped to strengthen the world building. And this is a world that is slightly different to the Eurocentric medieval fantasy that many of us are used to. It’s all in the small details, the land is hot and barren, the warriors fight with bronze swords and bone spears. All these simple things, along with the names of characters and places, help to give the book a distinct feel. Tau is a solid protagonist and his reactions to his circumstances are entirely normal and human. It’s easy to become invested in him. He didn’t want to be a warrior and he was looking for a way out, but the injustice of his world took someone from him, so he becomes driven by revenge and blood. And judging by his determination, he will clearly get what he wants. He lives to train, and eventually becomes skilful enough to best opponents twice his size. The book took a somewhat predictable direction because of this, but the strength of Tau’s convictions and personality made up for the linearity. The action was also constant, never relenting until the final chapters.I enjoyed the magic system, the idea that a “gifted” could use special powers to improve the strength and speed of warriors in battle. The two work together to ensure victory. It reminded me somewhat of Kursed in Thor: Dark World and it gave the fighting (especially the large-scale battles) an added element, making them more complex and interesting to read about. It wasn’t as simple as knife work; tactics were needed to bring down powerful foes. And whilst I’m on the subject of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I recommend this to fans of Black Panther because it is put together just as well and has a similar feel. Overall, this is a strong first novel in the series. It’s unique and offers a totally different version of fantasy. Orbit were totally right to snap this up (it was previously only a self-published title.) More please. -Thank you Orbit for sending me a review copy for Fantasy Book ReviewFBR | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia
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  • James Tivendale
    January 1, 1970
    *Minor spoilers may follow.* The inhabitants of Omehi who are known as the Chosen have been warring with the savage hedeni tribes for hundreds of years. The hedeni may have superior numbers but the Chosen have the Gifted. These are powerful female mages who can source power from the underworld Isihogo. The Gifted are a huge asset in battles. They can turn a warrior into an Ingonyama which is a giant, amazingly powerful protective being. The pinnacle of their powers, and the aspect that the heden *Minor spoilers may follow.* The inhabitants of Omehi who are known as the Chosen have been warring with the savage hedeni tribes for hundreds of years. The hedeni may have superior numbers but the Chosen have the Gifted. These are powerful female mages who can source power from the underworld Isihogo. The Gifted are a huge asset in battles. They can turn a warrior into an Ingonyama which is a giant, amazingly powerful protective being. The pinnacle of their powers, and the aspect that the hedeni fear the most is that when Gifted work together they can call a Dragon Guardian to aid them on the battlefield to bloody and devastating effect. After an incredible prologue which is set 186-cycles prior, we spend The Rage of Dragons mostly following Tau's third person perspective. Castes and birthright are hugely important in this novel and Tau is a higher common. He lives in a relatively small town and spends the majority of his days helping his father in his duties or training with the sword. His father was an Ihashe warrior and now helps keep the settlement secure and safe. Tau wants to follow in his father's footsteps and become an Ihashe soldier too. These are the elite fighters from the lesser castes. He spends his days practicing with the second son of a petty noble house called Jabari. As a noble Jabari is bigger, stronger, faster, fitter and beats Tau the majority of the time. Jabari wishes to join the Indlovu which is the group for the most powerful noble caste warriors. Although best friends they are aware that their blood will lead them to walk different roads in the future even though the nobles, commoners, and the drudge are all on the same side. All seems content and life doesn't seem too harsh. Tau even has a love interest in his village called Zuri. Things change dramatically but mostly for Tau the day that Jabari attends his warrior trials and that is where the story really begins.Tau was a standard and safe character at the beginning of the narrative but his development throughout is dramatic and very well done. He changes drastically when vengeance becomes his only real motive. Following his loss, taking part in his warrior trials, to his time in Scale Jayyed as an initiate Ihashe, seeing events from Tau's perspective was addictive for me. He was headstrong, unyielding, sometimes made bad decisions and wasn't always likable which are some of the qualities I look for in a protagonist. "He made a pact with himself, a pact he swore on his father’s soul. If he were asked to run a thousand strides, he would run two thousand. If he were told to spar three rounds, he would spar six. And if he fought a match to surrender, the man who surrendered would not be him. He would fight until he won or he died. There would be, he swore, no days without difficulty."I've read many fantasy novels where sections take place at a warrior or magic educational establishment. This tale features some of what you'd expect in this sort of setting. Rivals, different factions, a team of varied individuals working together against the odds, camaraderie, interesting teachers/trainers, etc... The familiar elements incorporated, I think this is the most I have ever enjoyed reading a story that features a warrior school. That includes Anthony Ryan's Blood Song which is probably the closest rival this story has. What made this exceed was the practice battles against other scales from the lesser castes and also from the noble castes. The hatred between the nobles and the lessers leads readers to realise that there is no such thing as a practice fight in this environment. These scenarios are exceptionally well crafted and gripping especially when Tau hones his fighting skills and other members of his team learn to work together expertly to overcome much adversity. Winter has a deft talent for writing colourful, complex and memorable characters. My personal favourites were sword trainer Jayyed, love interest Zuri, hated rival Kellan, and all the members of Jayyed's five. This African-influenced fantasy world was composed well without being too fruity or unnecessarily over detailed. This kept the focus on the action and The Rage of Dragons flows at a breakneck pace with only a few quieter, slower chapters here and there for readers to catch their breath, compose themselves, reflect on what has just happened and then breathe before going again. The Rage of Dragons features the battle scenarios as mentioned but also huge skirmishes and fights against the age-old enemy, the hedeni. Duels, political corruption, dragons and venturing to the underworld to fight demons are just a small amount of the ingredients which make The Rage of Dragons such a phenomenal debut. I'll definitely see what Winter has in store for us in his next entry. The Rage of Dragons is an excellent high-octane thrill ride of a fantasy debut that I devoured in one day. Highly recommended. 9/10.
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  • Nicholas Eames
    January 1, 1970
    Damn, this book was good. ASIDE from the fact that its setting is so refreshingly unique, the pacing is extraordinary. And by 'extraordinary' I mean that once it gets rolling--and it gets rolling almost right off the bat--it never lets up. Seriously, though: NEVER. Important scenes are followed by equally important scenes, which are followed by sudden revelations, which are followed by shocking loss, and then the whole thing repeats again. The chapters--short but not too short--are the perfect s Damn, this book was good. ASIDE from the fact that its setting is so refreshingly unique, the pacing is extraordinary. And by 'extraordinary' I mean that once it gets rolling--and it gets rolling almost right off the bat--it never lets up. Seriously, though: NEVER. Important scenes are followed by equally important scenes, which are followed by sudden revelations, which are followed by shocking loss, and then the whole thing repeats again. The chapters--short but not too short--are the perfect size to keep you thinking that reading just one more before setting it down is probably a good idea.To summarize: big, epic, exciting, and, unless you're from the future, like nothing you've read before.
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  • The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
    January 1, 1970
    As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...Some books start quite slowly, setting the scene, others, they start with a bang. The Rage of Dragons is one such book, starting with a bloody sword thrust through the chest cavity, one that explodes out the back in a profusion of action.After fleeing their previous home, the land of Osonte and a catastrophe known as ‘The Cull‘ the Omehi are newly arrived on the shores of Xidda look As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...Some books start quite slowly, setting the scene, others, they start with a bang. The Rage of Dragons is one such book, starting with a bloody sword thrust through the chest cavity, one that explodes out the back in a profusion of action.After fleeing their previous home, the land of Osonte and a catastrophe known as ‘The Cull‘ the Omehi are newly arrived on the shores of Xidda looking for a new home but the current population has other ideas. What follows is a violent battle (highlighting the powers of the Omehi Gifted and the strength of Winter’s ability to write detailed and dynamic battle scenes that populate the whole of The Rage of Dragons right from the get-go) and many die on both sides. The Hedeni (also known as the Xiddeen the original inhabitants of Xidda) are overwhelming the Omehi, with no wish to flee and as a last gasp, the last roll of the dice, the Omehi summon a guardian (dragon). The dragon turns the tides of the battle, the Omehi win and in Xidda they have a new home.The book then jumps forward in time to nearly two hundred years later, the Omehi have settled on Xidda but the war against the native Xiddeen (the Hedeni) is still ongoing, it hasn’t stopped and on both sides, blood is still being shed.Tau is a normal Omehi from the Lesser caste, his role, at best is as an Ihashe in the endless war against the Hedeni. If he fails to get past the test to graduate to the Isikolo and the Ihashe training then his fate will either be as an Ihagu, the fodder of the military, those sent in first to battle, those whose role in the fighting is to die on the battlefields, to end up as carrion, nothing more, the walking dead, bones turning to dust. Or, if he refuses that then as a drudge, less than servants, nothing, a slave.Tau doesn’t want to be a fighter, he lacks the stomach for killing and would rather work in the keep than go to war but regardless of his chosen path he first needs to pass the Ihashe testing and then the arduous training that follows. However, fate is a cruel mistress and something happens, something that shows the class divide within the Omehi people, the gap between the Lesser castes and the Noble castes (the Lessers are seen as being lesser, they are less than the Nobles, held down by the class system, low blood, low born, less, the law favours the Nobles, allowing them to treat the Lessers with contempt and as glorified servants) and Tau loses everything. He loses everyone close to him, hardening him, turning him to stone and his thoughts of the future change, warping to revenge and vengeance against those who have taken everything from him.The only way for Tau to legally achieve his goal, his revenge is to gain military status by passing the training from initiate to become an Ihashe and then, he can, in all legality challenge those above him, those of Noble blood, those responsible for his loss to blood duels.This is what The Rage of Dragons is, a revenge tale of the highest quality and a tale that is propelled along by Tau who is the fiery core, the ferocious spirit and the driving force of the story.For a large portion of the book, Tau is blinkered. The Ihashe training he undertakes is simply a means to an end, a way to get his revenge and he doesn’t care about the war between the Omehi and the Xiddeen. Then, later on, his eyes are opened and he realises that there is more at stake than just his quest for revenge, it is still his goal, his purpose but he can see that fate of the entire Omehi people is in the balance. The Omehi are losing the war, with each cycle less and less Gifted are being born, and there aren’t enough Nobles either. The vast hordes of the Xiddeen are attacking more and more frequently, pushing the Omehi back, sensing weakness in their enemy, gaining ground and preparing for the killing stroke.To survive the Omehi people need to change their ways, their old ways, the rigidity of the castes, from Common/Lesser through to Petty Nobles through to Greater/Royal Nobles is out-dated and people like Tau can only rise so far before they reach the glass ceiling. As a people they are dying out, fading away, every life should matter, every life should be equal and that is what Tau is also fighting for, his revenge but also for the life of a Lesser, a life that should be worth the same as that of a Noble, they all bleed the same.The Omehi have Gifted at their disposal, only Omehi women can be Gifted and can safely access the power of Isihogo (Isihogo is the demon world where the power the Gifted use is pulled from). It is a land where demons dwell, a twisted version of the real world with muted colours and swirling mists. Those who are Gifted can hide in Isihogo, they can cloak themselves, mask their presence so that the demons can’t see them. There are different powers available, an Enervator can use power to unleash a wave of energy temporarily sending the souls of those hit with the blast into the land of Isihogo at the mercy of the demons that inhabit the land and incapacitating them. Time passes slower in Isihogo and an Edifier can use it to carry messages to others far away. An Entreater can use the power to bind their will to that of another (that is how the Gifted control the dragons). Finally, an Enrager can channel the power of Isihogo into an Ingonyama (the best Noble fighters in the Omehi military) amplifying their size, strength and speed and turning them into hulking huge behemoths.As a land Xidda is arid, dry and dusty with sparse food supplies and water, harvests are small and living off the land is hard. The rage of Dragons feels like Winter is only skimming the surface, caressing the skin rather than burying the blade in the flesh of his world with much more waiting to be discovered in the future books.I liked Winter’s writing and felt that it flowed well, there was always something going on, something that moved the story forward, there is a depth to the characters, the story and the world, the pacing is fast and there is the occasional touch of emotion and humour added to the mix too.There is something comforting, something familiar about The Rage of Dragons but, at the same time, there is something new, something refreshing about it too. It is an outstanding debut from Winter, a book that includes everything that is good about modern fantasy and a book that fully deserves to be a hit. As the main character Tau is someone that you are invested in, the other characters who fill out the rest of the cast all have a role to play, the Omehi, the caste system and culture of the Omehi, the politics, the Xiddeen, the magic and the demon-infested realm of Isihogo and finally, the dragons (they are only sparingly used, they are the last resort in any battle, they are devastating, calling them in has a cost, they destroy everything, ravage the world and there is an additional cost to the Gifted too) all have a place in the story, all are used to form the whole picture and combined together all help to create what is an electrifying read. From the beginning to the end The Rage of Dragons is brimming with intense action and heart-pounding spectacular fight scenes. Whether it is Tau training, sparring/duelling one-on-one or full-scale large battles and huge set-pieces they are all vivid, visceral, weighted and cinematic. Winter has a keen eye for writing the scenes, they have a heft to them, you feel every blow, every punch, every bone-jarring strike and every sword thrust.Tau can’t change who he is or that the Nobles are bigger with better blood than him and he isn’t even the strongest or the tallest Lesser but he is resolute, driven by desire and internal strength. He pushes himself to the limit and then pushes some more, every time he is knocked back down, he rises back up, he won’t quit, he’ll die before he gives up. Tau is a very human character, his emotions can get the better of him, he can be fallible, foolhardy, impetuous, and rash but he is also determined and relentless no matter the cost to himself as when you are left with nothing, you have nothing to hold you back, nothing to lose. Tau has his hate, his rage that consumes, that devours and that fuels the fire inside, he wants to be more than his birth, he aspires to be more. He is a force of nature, far beyond driven, an oncoming storm as he seeks to improve his skill, to become better than his blood, pushing more, never losing sight of his goal, building strength, stamina, speed, a preternatural understanding of the blade, of fighting.Tau is like John Wick if you got to see the training that John Wick went through to become an unstoppable killing machine hell-bent on retribution and The Rage of Dragons itself is a blood-soaked revenge tale with added depth and a whole lot of heart.
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  • Anthony Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    The stultifying and dehumanising effects of a caste-based society and the seductive but ultimately destructive nature of vengeance lie at the heart of Evan Winter’s tale. A feudal people known as the Omehi fight a never-ending war against encroaching tribes to maintain their hold on a peninsular they invaded two hundred years before. 'Lesser Common' Tau Solarin drives himself to the point of madness as he gains the warrior skills needed to avenge himself on the noble caste. Expertly structured w The stultifying and dehumanising effects of a caste-based society and the seductive but ultimately destructive nature of vengeance lie at the heart of Evan Winter’s tale. A feudal people known as the Omehi fight a never-ending war against encroaching tribes to maintain their hold on a peninsular they invaded two hundred years before. 'Lesser Common' Tau Solarin drives himself to the point of madness as he gains the warrior skills needed to avenge himself on the noble caste. Expertly structured with a keen eye for action and character, Rage of Dragons is a captivating epic heroic fantasy from a major new talent.
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  • James Islington
    January 1, 1970
    This book was awesome - intense, inventive and action-packed from beginning to end. It included a ton of things that I like in a story, and then executed that story really, really well. Where the blurb mentions Game of Thrones, I’d liken it more to something like Red Rising, with its protagonist driven by revenge, class system to overcome, and story that moves forward with a kind of forceful, gripping, action-oriented pace. In fact, I think that fans of Pierce Brown’s series (as I am) would almo This book was awesome - intense, inventive and action-packed from beginning to end. It included a ton of things that I like in a story, and then executed that story really, really well. Where the blurb mentions Game of Thrones, I’d liken it more to something like Red Rising, with its protagonist driven by revenge, class system to overcome, and story that moves forward with a kind of forceful, gripping, action-oriented pace. In fact, I think that fans of Pierce Brown’s series (as I am) would almost certainly find something to love here. But The Rage of Dragons is very much its own thing, too. The magic system is clearly defined, used inventively, and allows room for some interesting development in the future. The world itself is distinctive and well-realised, and yet it’s clear that this book only scrapes the surface of a larger conflict, too. There’s definitely plenty of territory for the sequels to expand into.Finally, for those who want to know about mature content – swearing is a non-issue, the violence is brutal but not gratuitous in any way, and there’s one brief sex scene. It's somewhere between Brandon Sanderson’s books and Game of Thrones, but much closer to the former. There’s certainly nothing that would make me hesitate to widely recommend it.So all up, a very enthusiastic ‘go and read it’ from me!
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  • kartik narayanan
    January 1, 1970
    I am not sure who recommended The Rage of Dragons to me. Whoever it was, THANK YOU!The first 20% of the book is a snore fest. At times, I was tempted to chuck the book away. But then, the Zaknafein moment happened, and the book went full Hulk on me. BOOK SMASH PUNY READER!The remaining 80% is as action packed as it is possible for the written word to be. There is plenty of humour, drama, character development, world building and every other thing you can think of. The only problem with finishing I am not sure who recommended The Rage of Dragons to me. Whoever it was, THANK YOU!The first 20% of the book is a snore fest. At times, I was tempted to chuck the book away. But then, the Zaknafein moment happened, and the book went full Hulk on me. BOOK SMASH PUNY READER!The remaining 80% is as action packed as it is possible for the written word to be. There is plenty of humour, drama, character development, world building and every other thing you can think of. The only problem with finishing this book is that the book is fucking finished and the sequel is not out yet.In conclusion, if you have to read a limited set of fantasy books this year, The Rage of Dragons should be in your top three (because, you know, Hulk!)
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  • Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Personal rating: 4.25
  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    “We know your witches are dying,” shouted the warlord, near the edge of hearing. “We know it as we know that, in the coming cycles, you will have too few to call the fire-demons. We know it and offered you peace. You saw that as weakness, paying it back with the blood of our innocent. Queen of demons, what you saw was kindness, not weakness. Queen of demons, what you will see is vengeance, righteous in cause and unholy in deliverance.”Revenge is a dish best served cold–this we know. It serves as “We know your witches are dying,” shouted the warlord, near the edge of hearing. “We know it as we know that, in the coming cycles, you will have too few to call the fire-demons. We know it and offered you peace. You saw that as weakness, paying it back with the blood of our innocent. Queen of demons, what you saw was kindness, not weakness. Queen of demons, what you will see is vengeance, righteous in cause and unholy in deliverance.”Revenge is a dish best served cold–this we know. It serves as a powerful motivational tool, but one that can be difficult to tell. The entire focus cannot just be vengeance. There has to be something more.The Rage of Dragons is a large tome that definitely requires a substantial time investment. It’s nearly 550 pages, which isn’t all that huge in size, but what it contains inside is a story that you must take care to give your full attention. It is absolutely massive in scope. However, I never felt overwhelmed or bogged down with information.Similar to Josiah Bancroft and Jonathan French, The Rage of Dragons was originally a self-published release (back in 2017) before getting scooped up by Orbit. The folks there clearly know what they are doing, because HOLY FORKING SHIRTBALLS!! Also? Check out that stunning cover art by Karla Ortiz (you must check out her work if you are unfamiliar with it) and designed by the super-talent that is Lauren Panepinto.Immediately The Rage of Dragons thrusts the reader into a battle that is already in progress. Queen Taifa and the Omehi people have arrived on the shores of Xidda and wish to take over. The local inhabitants, the Hedeni, are so very very opposed to that idea.Explosive violence ensues.From there, Winter builds his story from the ground up, with the main story taking place two centuries after the intense prologue. Centered around Tau, a lower-class Omehi warrior.Tau didn’t start out striving to be a leader, in fact he wanted to settle down somewhere quiet and live a peaceful life. But now he must follow an ambitious plan in order to avenge his loss.At one point I saw this referred to as Game of Thrones meets Gladiator. It’s certainly got a Gladiator feel along with the politics of Game of Thrones, but for me I would say that it is closer to a Blood Song meets Red Rising vibe than anything else. Admittedly, some of that is because of the trope that I will never tire of – an institute of sorts that focuses on learning and combat. Stabby, glorious combat! In this case, Tau training to be an Ihashe, an elite military fighter.This is a hard book to describe, without getting into spoiler territory. There is just SO MUCH going on.It’s quintessential sword and sorcery, yet one of the few African-inspired epic fantasies out there, which is completely refreshing. These are stories that absolutely must be told!There are many, many, many themes throughout this beautifully crafted tale – among them revenge, war, politics, inequality and love.“A dragon had been called, and someone would have to die.”The Rage of Dragons explodes at a breakneck pace. Complex characters, dragons, revenge, ALL THE STABBY-STABBY-STAB-STAB. I adored everything about this book! The cover, the chapter titles, the maps, the wee dragon on the spine, the notes from Winter at the back.. it was just fucking phenomenal. Truly.What a brilliant debut!(Massive thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a finished copy in advance!)
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  • Mike Everest Evans
    January 1, 1970
    The Good: The titular dragons aren’t the only things that come raging out of the pages thanks to the triple-threat of people, ‘places’ and plot, making this Africa (Xhosa) inspired epic an unforgettable read.The Bad: For me? Nothing. Seriously, I love this book. I have seen some people getting put off by the ‘simple revenge plot’, all the fighting, or the ‘mash-up of cultures’, but honestly, I had so much FUN reading this book I didn’t notice!The Ugly Truth: The Rage of Dragons is an explosion o The Good: The titular dragons aren’t the only things that come raging out of the pages thanks to the triple-threat of people, ‘places’ and plot, making this Africa (Xhosa) inspired epic an unforgettable read.The Bad: For me? Nothing. Seriously, I love this book. I have seen some people getting put off by the ‘simple revenge plot’, all the fighting, or the ‘mash-up of cultures’, but honestly, I had so much FUN reading this book I didn’t notice!The Ugly Truth: The Rage of Dragons is an explosion of characters, cultures and creativity. It blazes a trail to the new and exciting, while also stoking the fireside nostalgia of the fantasy ‘legends’ I grew up reading. With just this one book, Evan Winter joins my personal pantheon of fantasy gods and goddesses as a titan to be reckoned with. 11/10 – all the stars!The Full Review: Ever read a book that felt as if it was written just for you? The Rage of Dragons was this for me.Warning: No, not a spoiler warning. This is a HYPE warning. I’ll be your pilot today, so please sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride, because The Rage of Dragons IS AMAZING.Tired of the same old fantasy? Read The Rage of Dragons. Want something new and exciting? Read The Rage of Dragons. Are you still reading this? You shouldn’t be, because you should be reading The Rage of Dragons!*clears throat*Excuse me. Right, where was I…A HUGE thank you to Orbit for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review, and the heart palpitations I experienced as a result (though they weren’t to know that when they sent it).The Rage of Dragons is Evan Winter’s debut novel, and the first novel in The Burning quartet. Originally self-published, it has since been acquired by Orbit, and it was this traditionally published version that I read (and I am STILL kicking myself for not having discovered this earlier).The Rage of Dragons is the story of Tau, a lesser of the Omehi people, set in a world that is as vibrant as it is violent. In the caste-based system, as a lesser, Tau’s place is to serve the Nobles, and as a warrior in training, he will be sent to fight the native ‘savages’ that vie for control of the country his people – the Omehi – occupied to escape The Cull in their homeland. But Tau doesn’t want to fight; he wants to live in peace, not war, with the woman that he loves.And when those whom Tau lives to serve betray him, he starts his own personal war, one of revenge, and one that could very well cost him his soul. But there’s more than just his own fate at stake as he decides what matters most: vengeance, or justice, not just for him, but for all Lessers who have been oppressed by the higher castes.Boiling the book down to its bare bones, the plot at first glance is quite simple. Archetypal ‘farmboy’ sets out on a quest for revenge after the loss of a loved one, whilst all around him the ‘good vs evil’ fight for survival plays out, which of course he has a part in, like it or not. Oh, and ‘childhood love interest’ gets caught in the crossfire of dragons strafing the proverbial battlefield.The plot might sound familiar, but the STORY of Tau Tafari is different to any hero’s journey I have ever tread the pages of. The start is slower than the rest of the book, and predictable a la ‘young man trains to be a warrior,’ but it gets to the first twist in short order, and from there things really pick up. Once I reached the point of no return for Tau, circa 30%, there was no way back for me either. Time permitting, this is the type of book that I could read in one sitting. I was hooked.As a character, Tau is one of my favourite protagonists. He has his faults, which if anything are more enthralling than his strengths. He’s the type of character you champion the cause of. The underdog/lone wolf that doesn’t know when to give up. He’s not 100% the strong and silent type, but his bite is certainly more dangerous than his bark.Other characters include love interest Zuri (who is so much more than just ‘love interest’ but I won’t divulge more without going into spoilers), Tau’s ‘mentor’ figure Jayyed, fellow lesser Uduak, and rival Kellan. The entire cast more than ticks the box of who’s who, going so far as to break the mould and carve out their own place in the world.Which brings me to the world(building)! This is an African (Xhosa) inspired fantasy with flavours of European and Asian storytelling. I know that this hasn’t worked for some readers and reviewers, but for me I found it to be really well balanced and imaginative. The magic system especially is wholly original. Imagine: dragons conducting strafing runs over a battlefield on which sorceresses send warriors ‘spiritually’ to the underworld, while Hulk-like behemoths tear chunks off the enemy formation.I have seen some people get turned off by what they deem is a ‘simple revenge plot’, or ‘too much fighting’ or the mash-up of cultures. My thoughts on this? While revenge plays a big part in Tau’s motivation, it’s the emotion and growth that turns the character-plot into purpose. The fighting is fantastic, especially when combined with the unique magic system. And no matter the real world influences, I really enjoyed the originality and authenticity of staying true to the ‘reality’ of this fantasy world.Taking a pause here, if it sounds like a lot of this review covers fighting and warfare, that is because this book contains a lot of fighting and warfare. If that is your ‘thing’ then great, this book is for you! But if you are looking for something more, then this might not be your first pick – BUT, seriously give it a shot. There is a lot more to The Rage of Dragons than meets the eye.I watched Avengers: Endgame the same week as reading this. Needless to say, it was a very emotional week. Before then, I can’t remember the last time something so EPIC left me feeling so emotionally charged and then exhausted afterwards. There were scenes in both that were so intense I had to wipe away a tear. In The Rage of Dragons, around the 50% mark there is a section about ‘Tau’s Path’ (you’ll know it when you read it). When one of the characters quotes something Tau has said, I punched the air in excitement, before remembering I was in a hospital waiting room and that people could see me. Oops.Multiple themes run throughout The Rage of Dragons. Love, loss, betrayal, birthright, revenge, redemption – but for me, something that really stood out was cost, namely the cost of your actions. And not just the cost to others/society/the world, as a result of your actions, but also the personal cost. Every choice has a consequence, but behind that is a cost, which must be paid whether you choose to accept the price or not.Speaking personally, as this book did touch me personally on the theme of cost, The Rage of Dragons embraces what it means to be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder and made it an accessible topic in a way I hadn’t read before. Without getting ‘heavy’ on the topic, PTSD is something that a lot of people have, and have had throughout history. It affects people differently, for different reasons, and is entirely individual to them based on them as a person. A bit of a taboo subject until recently, it has become more widely acknowledged (and dare I say it, ‘accepted’) in recent years.In The Rage of Dragons, Tau makes certain choices that come with a cost. Without realising it at the time of deciding, this cost is far greater than he expects. It changes how he sees and interacts with the world. Kind of a ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ type of thing. But where Peter Parker can don the mask of Spiderman to fight supervillains, assured that his two separate identities are (mostly) separate, Tau Tafari can’t. Tau’s villains stay with him as he lives and breathes. Tau’s demons in his day to day aren’t really there (though they are, arguably, in the spirit world), but to him, in his eyes, they are. I really identified with this as a form of PTSD, and whether this was intentional or not, I think it’s perfect. Its not just a nice ‘add in’. It’s part of who Tau is, and it makes him more real for it.On the note of Spiderman, I have to admit the ‘Game of Thrones meets Gladiator’ doesn’t really work for me (bear with me, this isn’t a negative). I realise that putting the names of heavy hitters on a book/film/series is going to draw attention from outside the immediate audience/fanbase, but The Rage of Dragons isn’t Game of Thrones or Gladiator. Yes, there are dragons, and revenge. But The Rage of Dragons is so much more than that.And with Game of Thrones now finished, the question of ‘what next?’ continues to be asked. Answering ‘THIS!’ (TRoD) makes sense, but in the same breath I feel that it would be wrong of me to do so, because TRoD isn’t GoT. Why? It’s The Rage of Dragons, that’s why. And true to its own voice, The Rage of Dragons is its own story. It shouldn’t be in the shadow of Game of Thrones, not when it deserves to bask, nay, to blaze, in the glory of its own fire.I feel that, in a way, The Rage of Dragons is to fantasy what Black Panther is to blockbuster movies (note: the use of ‘blockbuster movies’ and not superhero movies, as African stories and storytellers are woefully underrepresented in all media forms). The Rage of Dragons, IMHO, is a story that will open people’s eyes and minds as they hadn’t been before. It’s not the first of its kind*, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it will be a gateway fantasy for a lot of readers to a much bigger world than the one they knew.(*That’s not to say that there aren’t any other fantastic African influenced fantasies out there; to mention but a few: N.K. Jemisin’s Dreamblood duology (anything by Jemisin should be considered required reading), Lost Gods by Micah Yongo, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Young adult), Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James, and I would be remiss for not including Tade Thompson’s SFF titan Rosewater.)So if I had to think of an ‘x meets y’ comparison for The Rage of Dragons, I would say it’s Black Panther meets The Poppy War (by R.F. Kuang). Not because of the street-cred kudos that would earn it, but because these two distinct works embrace their separate cultures, the stories of the people within them, and bring them to life in such a way that is so fantastical it’s real. And if a writer can take something fictional and make it seem real, tangible, and something you want to believe in, then that is the biggest compliment I can think to give as a reader.Before concluding this review, because I’m already rambling, and I could go on about this book all day, I have to add: we need more #ownstories from POC, minorities and underrepresented groups. We want them, but just as importantly (if not more so) we need them.In closing, The Rage of Dragons has it all. A hero’s journey that could easily stray to the dark path of the anti-hero; a magic system built with rules and raw power with still room enough to surprise you; and characters so full of life and heart that when they hurt, you bleed, both inside and out (from the papercuts you get trying to turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens next).And I for one can’t wait for the next instalment.
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  • Monica **can't read fast enough**
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed every page of this book and it's added to my favorites list. I believe that this is my second 5 star book this year. If you enjoy fantasy, think you might like fantasy, or are just kinda interested please pick up this book! I finished this Tuesday and still haven't picked up my next read. I just need a minute. I will be not so patiently waiting for the next book. Where you can find me:•(♥).•*Monlatable Book Reviews*•.(♥)•Twitter: @MonlatReaderInstagram: @readermonicaFacebook: Monica Re I enjoyed every page of this book and it's added to my favorites list. I believe that this is my second 5 star book this year. If you enjoy fantasy, think you might like fantasy, or are just kinda interested please pick up this book! I finished this Tuesday and still haven't picked up my next read. I just need a minute. I will be not so patiently waiting for the next book. Where you can find me:•(♥).•*Monlatable Book Reviews*•.(♥)•Twitter: @MonlatReaderInstagram: @readermonicaFacebook: Monica Reeds Goodreads Group: The Black Bookcase
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  • Ryan Mueller
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book that really surprised me in the end. I enjoyed the beginning but felt it got a bit slow with all the training segments in the middle. But the end of the book was absolutely brilliant. The action just kept going, and everything that had happened up to that point all played a role.One of the best books I've read so far this year.Rating: 9.5/10
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  • David's Book Meanderings
    January 1, 1970
    Edit(7/26/19). Because I can't stop thinking about the ending of this book and I need to talk Spoilers. So there will be some at the end and a spoiler warning before it. No spoilers up until that point. Feel free to add comments with spoiler tags or DM me because I would love to have a dialogue about it!Okay. So I am going to try to put my jumbled feelings into words. First things first, this is without a doubt the best book I have read this year and quite possibly the best debut novel I have ev Edit(7/26/19). Because I can't stop thinking about the ending of this book and I need to talk Spoilers. So there will be some at the end and a spoiler warning before it. No spoilers up until that point. Feel free to add comments with spoiler tags or DM me because I would love to have a dialogue about it!Okay. So I am going to try to put my jumbled feelings into words. First things first, this is without a doubt the best book I have read this year and quite possibly the best debut novel I have ever read.This African inspired novel was a whirlwind from start to finish. From the first few pages I was hooked. The stakes were high from the start and they only got higher as I grew to know and love the characters.We follow Tau in 3rd person perspective for almost all of the book. Although this book was incredibly fast paced, it did not suffer from what some fast paced books do. It did not sacrifice character development for entertainment's sake. In between the incredibly well written action scenes we have so many moments where we get to know characters, their motivations, their hopes, prejudices, and struggles. The villains were also written very well even though they don't get much page time. I cared deeply about all the characters, either loved or hated them, and that says a lot. I would definitely love to see some more character development for some of the "side characters" in future books. However, that didn't bother me at all because it is the very first book with only 1 perspective and I'm sure we will see more of this in the 3 more books in this series.Within the wild ride of this story we get to see an incredible world open up to us. Evan Winter seamlessly weaves worldbuilding into the narrative. I prefer zero info dumps if possible and the author managed that brilliantly. I especially liked the magic system. It was very unique and I would love to learn more about it and the spiritual realm of Isihogo. The culture and caste system were very intriguing and fascinating to learn about. I would love to learn more about them as well.This book is very similar in narrative to the Red Rising series, although the authors have very different writing styles and their are no Sci fi elements in Rage. The tone is also somewhat darker than RR. However, if you love Red Rising, you will most likely love this one.This book ripped my heart out and stomped on it. I loved every single second and couldn't put it down. It is the best book I've read in a very long time and I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy.MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for the ending. Read at your own risk:I don't usually get so attached to characters or relationships in books. I'm not typically one to "fanboy" characters or entire books and I try to keep my reviews pretty logical. Most of the time this is easy because after I read something I can move on to the next book the next day and forget about the previous one. Not with this one.I loved the Tau and Zuri pairing. They were both incredible as individuals and together they were even more so. Zuri was the only one who seemed like she could keep Tau grounded. When Tau was going through Isihogo death many times every night she was the one who brought him back to himself when he thought he was descending into madness. She was the one who refused to leave him even when he was being a complete jerk after they lost the battle at the melee.It seemed to me that Tau was in darkness the entire time after his Father died and his only light was Zuri. Their relationship seemed to be the only one fair thing that happened in this whole society of broken, corrupt Gov't and people and I was really pulling for them. And it REALLY hit me when she died. Like I can't stop thinking about it. What the heck is Tau supposed to do now? I'm scared for him in the rest of the series because he lost his anchor. I know he still has his friends and they help, but he proved that his friends caring for him and trying to stop him doing stupid, impulsive things is not the same when he decided to follow Jayyeed to the Crags for the peace meeting against their advice. I just.....my heart broke with Tau's when she was blasted by the dragon and I don't see how he can recover. Maybe he will fall in love with Queen Tsiora since he is the Champion now, I'm not sure. But I'm worried, and I'm equal parts greatly anticipating and dreading what book 2 will bring for everyone in this amazing story and world. End Emotional vomiting.
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  • Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
    January 1, 1970
    4.0 StarsVideo Review: https://youtu.be/rJZGofAjhwUI dare you to read the prologue and not be immediately hooked into this fantasy world! Rage of Dragons kicks off with one of the best prologues I have read in a book… ever. Seriously, I would LOVE the author to write a prequel series because I so badly want to read more from that timeline.The prologue was epic, emotional and filled with dragons. The beginning gave me serious Game of Thrones vibes with a fiery queen, reminiscent of Daenerys. I on 4.0 StarsVideo Review: https://youtu.be/rJZGofAjhwUI dare you to read the prologue and not be immediately hooked into this fantasy world! Rage of Dragons kicks off with one of the best prologues I have read in a book… ever. Seriously, I would LOVE the author to write a prequel series because I so badly want to read more from that timeline.The prologue was epic, emotional and filled with dragons. The beginning gave me serious Game of Thrones vibes with a fiery queen, reminiscent of Daenerys. I only wished the dragons had played a larger role in the rest of the book because I can never get enough monstrous dragons in my fantasy. After the prologue, the comparisons with George R.R. Martin’s world fell away and the real story began. At its core, this was a piece of heavy military fantasy, wrapped up in a familiar revenge narrative. This chunky book was jammed pack with training, fighting and battles. If you do not enjoy reading fight scenes, this book may not be for you. While I do not typically read a lot of military fiction, I found this one to be surprisingly captivating. I would have preferred a more balanced narrative, with less fights to allow more time to character and story development. Yet, I still found myself invested in the narrative. The writing in this debut novel fairly strong  with the action described in a way that allowed me to clearly picture what was happening on the page. While I would not quite describe this book as grimdark, it certainly did not shy away from the brutality of warfare. The battles were realistic and unapologetic, filled with violence, blood and gore. The magic system was intriguing. In this world, people are gifted magical abilities from their goddess and learn to draw power from the realms of demons. Personally, I prefer a harder magic system with more logical rules. At times, this magic system was a bit confusing, but it was certainly interesting.Compared to other epic fantasy stories, this one was fairly accessible. The entire story was told from the perspective of Tau, with a relatively small cast of supporting characters. There were a lot of unfamiliar words and names included in the story, but the glossary at the back of the book helped to keep everything straight. While I would not make this someone’s first fantasy book, I do not think that someone needs a lot of previous experience in the genre in order to enjoy this one. Finally, I loved the way that diversity was naturally woven into this story. Written by an African American author, this was an #ownvoices story featuring predominant black male and female characters. Honestly, this was the book that I hoped that Black Leopard, Red Wolf to be. If you enjoy military fantasy filled with non-stop action, then you should definitely read The Rage with Dragons. I looking forward to rereading the next book in the series will go see where the story goes from here. Disclaimer: I requested a copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Adah Udechukwu
    January 1, 1970
    The Rage of Dragons is really, really good novel and I recommend it for everyone. I loved the plot and setting of the novel. The novel had no dull moments and the fact that Nigerian names were used in the novel such as Odili, Uduak, Chinedu and many others was really cool.
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  • Hollis
    January 1, 1970
    If the pitch of Gladiator meets GAME OF THRONES drew you in, you'll probably be very happy with THE RAGE OF DRAGONS. Because in addition to those things, it's also as not-white as you can possibly be. This is a world that I guess would be the fantasy version of Africa, or fantasy-inspired version, and the "savage" people are no less dark than the "Chosen" people.This is a pretty long book, clocking in at almost five hundred and fifty pages, but if you love battle scenes, or long arduous periods If the pitch of Gladiator meets GAME OF THRONES drew you in, you'll probably be very happy with THE RAGE OF DRAGONS. Because in addition to those things, it's also as not-white as you can possibly be. This is a world that I guess would be the fantasy version of Africa, or fantasy-inspired version, and the "savage" people are no less dark than the "Chosen" people.This is a pretty long book, clocking in at almost five hundred and fifty pages, but if you love battle scenes, or long arduous periods of training, you probably won’t notice the passing of time. There’s a whole lot of worldbuilding that we don’t really get at the beginning, though we definitely get some, and that Winter actually sprinkles in along the way and, surprisingly, this worked really well for me. It’s not overly complicated but there are complexities to this world and I found easing us into it made it much easier to digest."You won’t help your people if you don’t know your place.""I don’t think I like the place they’ve set for me.""It’s based on what you are.""They don’t know what I am."Think RED RISING, if you’re familiar with that series, as far as this caste system goes. There are Lessers, and Nobles, full bloods and not, and then Gifted. Crammed in there are also various rankings of military people, too. Also similar to RED RISING, Tau, our lead character and the main POV (we do get brief chapter interludes with three other characters, I believe, but they are single-shot snapshots), is very much like Darrow, like all lower-born men who rise to become more, or to represent more. There’s also shades of The Princess Bride as he does get a little Inigo Montoya along the way.. (+10 points if you understood that reference). But don’t get it twisted, this isn’t an African RED RISING, there’s so much of this world that stands alone. There’s a spirit world at play, demons, and, of course, the dragons.Despite how long this book is, I won’t say that it felt long until.. the sixty percent mark. By this point it was all Revenge Time, all the time. And the training and battle scenes (though maybe more the training than the battle) were, well, proving a point. The time was definitely taken to show Tau becoming better, stronger, faster. I think this is a hard balance to maintain; too short and it’s not believable, too long and it can get boring. I wouldn’t have minded a few time jumps with convenient flashback or summary paragraphs though..That said, when I was reading it, I was invested. But if I put it down, I never thought about it or felt any burning desire to pick it up. It’s good but I would say the weakness, beyond the drawn out moments, was definitely the dialogue. It felt either kind of cheese or just weak. The storytelling, though, felt pretty solid which, thankfully, helped to bolster some of those moments where I side-eyed the words coming out of the characters’ mouths.Overall I was surprised by one or two characters along the way, grew to enjoy some of the others (not Tau but that’s mostly because I think he’s the driving force, the change, not so much a personality) but the plot itself didn’t wow me or blow my mind. I will still read on in the series because I think there’s a lot of backstory and worldbuilding to explore, and I have questions about what happened prior to the opening chapter of the book that started everything that lead to this particular place and time. I think, ultimately, I’m hoping for more GAME OF THRONES plot twists and less playing-with-swords or ruminating-on-my-revenge montages. Fingers crossed for that!** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **---This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
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  • Nick
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up a copy of this book after reading very positive reviews both on here and elsewhere online. ‘Maybe this is the next big thing!’ I told myself excitedly, as I pictured myself being the ultimate hipster being able to claim I’d read it long before it became cool. This is your archetypal fantasy story of a farmboy out to avenge the murder of his parent(s) against a backdrop of war and class oppression. If you’re looking for a wildly original story, this is not for you. If you’re looking f I picked up a copy of this book after reading very positive reviews both on here and elsewhere online. ‘Maybe this is the next big thing!’ I told myself excitedly, as I pictured myself being the ultimate hipster being able to claim I’d read it long before it became cool. This is your archetypal fantasy story of a farmboy out to avenge the murder of his parent(s) against a backdrop of war and class oppression. If you’re looking for a wildly original story, this is not for you. If you’re looking for sword-swinging action, it most definitely is. The blurb promised a cross between Game of Thrones and Gladiator. I don’t usually take these marketing slogans seriously, and well you should not, as there is none of George Martin’s political intrigue and subtext to be found, and the promised dragons barely feature; although the Gladiator comparison is a fair one as it’s essentially the same story minus the compelling villain of Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning film. The setting for Winter’s fantasy was an intriguing one. A fantasy novel with an African inspiration is a refreshing prospect in a genre saturated with medieval Europe rip-offs. However, I was mostly disappointed to find that this didn’t really break the trend – dragons, for one, are a feature of European/Asian mythology, and all the descriptions of crenellations and stone torch-lit tunnels just made me think of European castles. Though perhaps this is my imagination’s fault, I just didn’t see much in terms of a unique and memorable fantasy setting. This leads to one of the major problems I had with this book: everything felt skin-deep and superficial. The underlining theme of the book is struggle against an oppressive class structure, and, throughout, this is relayed to the reader via a wide array of nouns for the various classes and military/social roles. After finishing the 400-page novel, I still could not say what half of these words mean and what their role in the world is. What is a KaEid? What is the difference between an Inkokeliki and an Umbonqisi? I couldn’t tell you. I understand many of these words are pulled from real-world African examples. Which is fine, as is the general method of showing, not telling, but when they are thrown at the reader constantly you need a solid understanding of what these words mean if you’re to get to grips with what is happening and the world it is happening in. There are many, many lengthy action sequences in this book where I struggled to decipher what was happening because of this. There did not seem to be any complexity to the society beyond these words, and if there was, it was certainly not explored adequately. Maybe too much is expected of the reader here, and a glossary would have been extremely useful.My other major irk with this book was all the fights. There are simply too many. Of the 400+ pages of the book, I would guess at about 200 of these being solely devoted to descriptions of sword fights. This might be fine for some, and they are reasonably well-written, but for me they became a chore to get through by the second half of the book. Perhaps this was because the main character, Tau, became a Mary Sue of indescribable proportions by this point (seriously, I thought Red Rising’s Darrow was bad enough), which took any tension out of the action for the reader, but ultimately there is little variety for the reader to enjoy. Any development in the story is resolved with more sword fights, so if you've read one chapter you've basically read the entire book. The other problem with this devotion to endless descriptions of hacking and slashing is that it takes up too much space. Towards the end of the book, there’s a ‘twist’ where the main villain decides to betray the Queen. OK cool, this should be quite an interesting development. But no, both the villain and the Queen in question have both only had about three lines of dialogue apiece, and the reader subsequently has no vested interest in this betrayal. They simply are not given the time or the space in the novel for you to care, which results in the final set-piece of the story being something of a damp squib. There are not enough pages devoted to world-building. The reader is not given enough perspective of many of the settings or the world’s vernacular.That’s not to say I hated everything about the book. Some of it I found interesting. The magic system was intriguing and complex, if confusing in places, and I enjoyed how it tied together with the world’s class system, similar to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. The writing is passable, although I did roll my eyes at some of the ‘badass’ dialogue and a professional author really should know the difference between hanged and hung. Overall, I was glad to finish the book, which was disappointing as I was encouraged after reading the reviews it is getting. Maybe it just isn’t for me.
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  • FanFiAddict
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: ★★★★★SynopsisGame of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.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 Rating: ★★★★★SynopsisGame of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.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.ReviewSo, I have actually had a Kindle copy of Winter’s The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) for a while now as it was originally released in September of 2017. I picked it up purely based on the original cover, synopsis, glowing reviews, and the fact that it happened to be on sale when I came across it. Suffice it to say, it was going to be on Mt. TBR for a good little while as it wasn’t on my “review radar”. (Sorry, Evan…)Well, low and behold, Winter’s baby (which would make a good book or movie title on its own) was picked up by Orbit – THE premier fantasy and science fiction publisher right now (a publisher that has failed to send me a book I didn’t at least enjoy, let alone LOVE) – and given a makeover.I MEAN, LOOK AT THAT ASTOUNDING COVER BY KARLA ORTIZ. IT GIVES ME GOOSIES EVERY TIME I LOOK AT IT.Having said that, I do love how they kept the “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones” bit, though they could’ve added “with a dash of Wakanda” to give you an even more approximate picture of what you are getting yourself into. Easy to see why I decided to go ahead and give it a shot.The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) is, at its very heart, a tale of revenge. Oh sweet, sweet revenge. It is a bittersweet thing. One that clouds the mind and creates tunnel vision, blocking out all exterior influences until climax, leaving a then unfillable void. Tau knows this, but the emotion he is overcome with blinds him. He sacrifices his wants and the future he has set for himself to fixate on the the life now thrust upon his shoulders.But it also a tale of overcoming adversity. Destined to be apart of a lower class of society, one that will always be crushed under the heel of the upper class and flung into the front lines of war, Tau sets out to prove his worth and grit. Though he doesn’t have the ability to call dragons or go into a berzerker-like state, Tau manages to gather strength and determination through consistent and torturous training, giving him the edge he needs to fulfill his need.While the author plays on some of the well-known fantasy tropes, he brings them to life in a new light. Epic world-building, a new and enchanting magic system, never-ending / fast-paced action, and a protagonist that you will become fully spellbound by. The Rage of Dragons is the fantasy epic you didn’t know you needed and I, for one, am kicking myself for not getting to it sooner.Fans of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series will find a lot to love here. Honestly, anyone with an epic fantasy bone in their body needs to give this book a shot. I see big things coming for Winter as this story continues to unfold and I am excited to see where things escalate from here.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    The Rage of Dragons is a pacy, action fuelled fantasy, with some clever world building and a plethora of intriguing characters.With a low hum of political shenanigans hovering in the background, we follow along with Tau, whose taste for revenge sets him on a difficult yet determined path. Evan Winter manages all the levels of this tale with aplomb, as Tau fights his endless battles a fuller picture of the world around him and the war being fought emerges..We have magic and dragons, love and loss The Rage of Dragons is a pacy, action fuelled fantasy, with some clever world building and a plethora of intriguing characters.With a low hum of political shenanigans hovering in the background, we follow along with Tau, whose taste for revenge sets him on a difficult yet determined path. Evan Winter manages all the levels of this tale with aplomb, as Tau fights his endless battles a fuller picture of the world around him and the war being fought emerges..We have magic and dragons, love and loss and the beginnings of an epic story in the making. By the end of The Rage of Dragons you’ll be desperate for more and I for one cannot wait for the next instalment.Bring it on!Recommended.
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  • Anna Stephens
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. A great world and excellent exploration of society, castes and prejudice in the midst of a war of conquest/survival. While the central motivation of the plot was a little cliched, the story was enjoyable and the magic and demon elements were really well thought out and utilised. A good fun read.
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  • Mike Everest Evans
    January 1, 1970
    Full review to feature on The Fantasy Hive: http://fantasy-hive.co.uk/Preview:The titular dragons aren’t the only things that come raging out of the pages in this African-inspired fantasy. Rage of Dragons is an explosion of characters, cultures and creativity. It blazes a trail to the new and exciting, while also stoking the nostalgia of the fantasy ‘legends’ I grew up reading. With just this one book Evan Winters joins my personal pantheon of fantasy gods and goddesses as a titan to be reckoned Full review to feature on The Fantasy Hive: http://fantasy-hive.co.uk/Preview:The titular dragons aren’t the only things that come raging out of the pages in this African-inspired fantasy. Rage of Dragons is an explosion of characters, cultures and creativity. It blazes a trail to the new and exciting, while also stoking the nostalgia of the fantasy ‘legends’ I grew up reading. With just this one book Evan Winters joins my personal pantheon of fantasy gods and goddesses as a titan to be reckoned with. THIS BOOK DESERVES ALL OF THE STARS!
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  • Roberto Velastegui
    January 1, 1970
    Highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy story centered around the action, with slices of romance and drama.Deeply entertaining, with a slow but complex buildup in characters development, and a fast pace in story telling. The world that Evan sets for the readers is as vast and mysterious as can be imagined.With a lot more to explore and learn (from future book to come), Evan first novel is a must read.
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  • ben
    January 1, 1970
    a good number of reviews for this book look suspiciously fake, but I hope I'm wrong about that.
  • milou ☁️
    January 1, 1970
    i mean it has dragons
  • Grady
    January 1, 1970
    ‘A Dragon had been called and someone would have to die.’British born Evan Winter was raised by his South American parents in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors. Evan’s life history to date is fodder for many novels – he has a University degree, has tended bars in two countries, became a director and cinematographer, was threatened by UK mobsters in a case of mistaken identity, worked with wonderful A-list celebrities, and became the Creative Director for one of the worl ‘A Dragon had been called and someone would have to die.’British born Evan Winter was raised by his South American parents in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors. Evan’s life history to date is fodder for many novels – he has a University degree, has tended bars in two countries, became a director and cinematographer, was threatened by UK mobsters in a case of mistaken identity, worked with wonderful A-list celebrities, and became the Creative Director for one of the world's largest infrastructure companies before turning to writing fantasy novels. THE RAGE OF DRAGONS is his formal literary debut and after reading it seems to be the introduction of a series. He has the courage and chutzpah of youth and the daring imagination of an ancient story weaver at this disposal. Evan takes on a genre that while popular among a vast number of readers (and television and film watchers and game players) – the world of fantasy – and steps into that role of creating bizarre names of his characters, places, incidents weaponry, and concepts that require mental adjustment. That is a given and those who love dragons and fantasy and mass wars etc are used to it: the period of adjustment usually is completed by the end of the first chapter. Evan has the courage and good judgment to open his story with relatable, accessible setting and characters and that offers a feeling not only of curiosity for what I to come, but makes the reader comfortable with a new writer’s style. To wit: ‘Landfall - Queen Taifa stood at the bow of Targon, her beached warship, and looked out at the massacre on the sands. Her other ships were empty. The fighting men and women of the Chosen were already on shore, were already killing and dying. Their screams, not so different from those they fought, washed over her in waves. She looked to the sun. It burned high overhead and the killing would not stop until well past nightfall, which meant too many more would die. She heard footsteps on the deck behind her and tried to take comfort in the sounds of Tsiory's powerful gait. "My Queen," he said. Taifa nodded, permitting him to speak, but did not turn away from the slaughter on the shore. If this was to be the end of her people, she would bear witness. She could do that much. "We cannot hold the beach," he told her. "We have to retreat to the ships. We have to relaunch them." "No, I won't go back on the water. The rest of the fleet will be here soon." "Families, children, the old and infirm. Not fighters. Not Gifted." Taifa hadn't turned. She couldn't face him, not yet. "It's beautiful here," she told him. "Hotter than Osonte, but beautiful. Look." She pointed to the mountains in the distance. "We landed on a peninsula, bordered and bisected by mountains. It's defensible and arable. We could make a home here. Couldn't we? A home for my people." She faced him. His presence comforted her. Champion Tsiory, so strong and loyal. He made her feel safe, loved. She wished she could do the same for him.’Evan provides a well- distilled synopsis that is seductive – ‘The Omehi are surrounded by enemies that want them dead. They will not be easy prey. One in twenty-five hundred Omehi women are Gifted, wielding fragments of their Goddess’ power and capable of controlling the world’s most destructive weapon - Dragons. One in a hundred of their men has blood strong enough for the Gifted to infuse with magic, turning these warriors into near unstoppable colossi. The rest are bred to fight, ferocious soldiers fated to die in the endless war. Tau Tafari, an Omehi commoner, wants more than this but his life is destroyed when he’s betrayed by those he was born to serve. Now, with too few Gifted left and the Omehi facing genocide, Tau cares only for revenge. Following an unthinkable path, he will become the greatest swordsman to ever live, dying a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill three of his own people.’Yes, as with many first novels there is evidence of the need for a keen editorial eye for the structure, grammar and other minor flaws, but this book carries a solid Fantasy Story that suggests Evan Winter does indeed have a solid career at his fingertips. He is a new writer to watch.
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  • Alec Hutson
    January 1, 1970
    Red Rising in an epic fantasy milieu, directed by Quentin Tarantino. Great fun!
  • H. P.
    January 1, 1970
    Really? Another pitch comparing a book to Game of Thrones? What’s that—there’s more?“GAME OF THRONES MEETS GLADIATOR… ON ARRAKIS”Oh. Now you have my attention.And that cover! Does The Rage of Dragons live up to it? As an epic fantasy, it does. Unfortunately, The Rage of Dragons is really two stories spliced together. Winters injects a plodding and frustrating revenge/YA dystopian/military fantasy into the much more interesting epic fantasy.Winter has created a richly detailed world and he hits u Really? Another pitch comparing a book to Game of Thrones? What’s that—there’s more?“GAME OF THRONES MEETS GLADIATOR… ON ARRAKIS”Oh. Now you have my attention.And that cover! Does The Rage of Dragons live up to it? As an epic fantasy, it does. Unfortunately, The Rage of Dragons is really two stories spliced together. Winters injects a plodding and frustrating revenge/YA dystopian/military fantasy into the much more interesting epic fantasy.Winter has created a richly detailed world and he hits us with a ton of detail in the prologue detailing the Omehi landing on the peninsula where the main story takes place 200 years later. They are fleeing something called the Cull. They bring with them Guardians—dragons. Using that and other magical Gifts—Enraging, which makes Omehi men near unstoppable Colossi, and Enervating, which leaves opponents unable to fight—they push the native Xiddeen of the peninsula. 200 years later the war with the Xiddeen hasn’t stopped.There is a lot going on there. But the prologue also has a massive set piece battle involving dragons. Dragons burninating their enemies doesn’t get old, people. It’s the spoonful of sugar to help the worldbuilding medicine go down. I was mildly critical of the fantasy trope of renaming normal things in my review of Age of Assassins. There is some of that here, but it works better because Winter’s world has got that iceberg feel—the sense that there is much more under the surface than Winter is showing us. This is probably in part of Winter borrowing more from what strikes me as probably African and Mediterranean history than from the more usual European history. The peninsula is hot and arid. The Omehi fight with bronze swords and the Xiddeen often with stone spears.The later info dumps that explain a lot of what we see in the prologue are a little clunky, but the real problem isn’t with the epic fantasy side of things. The story really bogs down when it drills down in focus on Tau. Events early in the books put Tau on the path of revenge. A well worn but still welcome trope. The initial tragedy certainly leaves us with ample sympathy for Tau. Tau, unfortunately, squanders that sympathy. He isn’t single-minded about revenge so much as half-minded. If he sees one of the men he seeks to take revenge on, he will draw his sword and head over to attack, even if that man is surrounded by twenty crack soldiers and failure would mean death for his entire family (and probably his unit too). Winter could have saved us all some trouble and just named Tau Leeroy Jenkins. Comically, in one scene his internal monologue indicates he will sneak up on his target, only for him to immediately start shouting from ten paces away. He refuses to give even the slightest thought to any consideration of tactics or strategy, even when they would help him get revenge. This sort of thing can be part of an effective arc, and Tau does eventually change, but by then any sympathy I had for him his long gone. What about all of the people around him he has endangered who are actually decent human beings?All of this takes place while Tau is training to be a part of one of his caste’s military units. So, in addition to the revenge story, there are elements of military fantasy as well. And the caste system is used to show injustice in much the vein of a lot of dystopian YA books. But Tau resists any camaraderie with his fellow trainees (even though they could help him take revenge), and the military side of it isn’t super interesting (it has shades of a sports book or something like Holly Jenning’s Arena too). The inter-caste conflict is more interesting, although Tau is frequently so stupid that he would get screwed by even a fair system, so what does it matter?Thankfully Winter eventually remembers he is writing an epic fantasy. The endgame is much better than the middle of the book, with enormous set pieces and shocking reveals.The Rage of Dragons was a book with enormous potential. A few tweaks to the protagonist and a defter hand at the craft and this would have been a great book.4.5 of 5 Stars as an epic fantasy.2.5. of 5 Stars as a YA/military fantasy/revenge story.3.5 of 5 Stars overall.Winter sent me a review copy of The Rage of Dragons.
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  • Antoine Bandele
    January 1, 1970
    I literally googled how long one should read a book before they move on. Nancy Pearl said 50 pages, so I feel okay stopping at page 73. I must say I’m disappointed. I found this book by looking up “African Fantasy” on Amazon. This is not an African Fantasy. Oh yes, the lead characters are black and have African names, but they lack the culture. I had a feeling this would be the case when the cover had a full spread of a dragon (dragons, which are mythological creatures of Europe and Asia, not Af I literally googled how long one should read a book before they move on. Nancy Pearl said 50 pages, so I feel okay stopping at page 73. I must say I’m disappointed. I found this book by looking up “African Fantasy” on Amazon. This is not an African Fantasy. Oh yes, the lead characters are black and have African names, but they lack the culture. I had a feeling this would be the case when the cover had a full spread of a dragon (dragons, which are mythological creatures of Europe and Asia, not Africa) on it. But the book was on sale for $0.99 so I figured I’d try it out. The book is just European mythology and vocabulary with black people. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it’s just not what I’m looking for when I search the term “African Fantasy.” I wanted to read something that covered African folklore (there is plenty of it). I’ve read/watched/interacted with Euro-centric mythology and sensibilities. This book shared nothing new with me, or at least, nothing I was looking for. But that wasn’t my only issue with the book. I still could have enjoyed it despite it not covering what it categorizes itself under. The writing left a bit to be desired for me. There was a lot of telling in the prose where showing would have been more effective. I have a suspicion this book only got a pass on proofreading rather than a developmental edit. The beginning of the book’s world-building and fantasy world was a bit overwhelming to me. But that could just be me, others here seem to be ok with it. The book could have benefitted from an audience surrogate. You can tell the author spent time building his world but I don’t feel like I was properly introduced to it. It was like entering a basic arithmetic class but the teacher starts writing advanced algebra on the board. Teach me the 2+2 of your world before you start slamming me with the Pythagorean theorem of your world...I also had a hard time engaging with any of the characters and could not keep track of who was who most of the time, save the the badass Queen at the start (but that was due to one scene not to do with dragons). But the fact that I could not latch onto any of the characters, or care about what was happening to them, was the last straw. I found myself forcing myself to read when I didn’t want to anymore. Take this all with a grain of salt. Many of the folks here found enjoyment from the book. I’m just not one of them (and I’m in the minority).
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