The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.
Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.
Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.
Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.
I’m kind of a sucker for a Book One, you know? It’s pretty common for the first book in a trilogy or series to wind up being my favorite. I think it’s just about discovering something totally new…the beginning of a great adventure (it’s why The Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite LOTR movie).
And honestly, I think Evan Winter’s debut novel, The Rage of Dragons, is one of the greatest Book Ones I’ve ever read. This book opens as strong as any fantasy novel ever could, and just builds outward from there.
This is another great story of a novel that was previously self-published before getting picked up by a big publisher…seems like Orbit has taken a pretty keen interest in the world of self-published fantasy, and with good reason…there’s just so many great authors publishing on their own & the whole scene surrounding these books is really exciting!
The Rage of Dragons tells the story of Tau Solarin, of the Omehi people. They are known as The Chosen, and their society is built around a complex structure of different classes. The Omehi are first & foremost known for their military, having been warring with the people of Xidda for…well, basically forever. Understanding the social structure can feel a little overwhelming at first, but bonus, there’s a handy chart at the back of the book to help keep things straight! (There’s also a glossary at the end, and a great map at the front of the book!!)
Tau is High Common, but his best friend, Jabari is a Petty Noble. Tau’s father is responsible for training Jabari in combat, and as a result, Tau & Jabari spend their days sparring & preparing for a life spent fighting.
Only, Tau begins to desire more for himself than a life of violence & conflict. A simpler life with Zuri, the girl that he loves. But his entire world gets flipped upside down, and sends Tau on a dangerous mission of revenge.
This book is intense & complex in all the right ways. It demands a lot of the reader, but holy fuck, the payoffs are huge. The magic system in The Rage of Dragons is fascinating & more than a little scary. And the action is BONKERS & relentlessly violent.
A huge chunk of this book primarily revolves around Tau’s military training, which getting back to my love of Book Ones…I live for this kind of thing. Although it’s easy to forget that some of the training sequences in The Rage of Dragons aren’t “real” battles, because the consequences of these duels or skirmishes can be dire, even fatal.
While I think The Rage of Dragons is wildly unique, but it definitely put me in a similar mindset as some other great Book Ones:
–The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley
–Blood Song by Anthony Ryan
–Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
–Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
I’m not sure how many books are planned for this series, The Burning. But I know it’s off to an amazing start. The Rage of Dragons is an absolutely epic achievement, and something I think will resonate with all fantasy readers. Winter’s writing is incredibly solid, his characters are frustratingly real & flawed, and this world he’s imagined is so vivid that it just leaps off the page. I also think this story is SCREAMING for a great TV adaptation!!
I couldn’t have loved this any harder. Get this book on your TBR if it’s not already there! This is going to be a really special series, no doubt!
Massive thanks to Orbit for sending me a copy!! The Rage of Dragons releases 7.16.19!!!