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The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
4.5
Book Name: The Rage of Dragons
Author: Evan Winter
Publisher(s): Orbit
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Military Epic Fantasy
Release Date: July 16, 2019

Dragons are one of the most familiar—and overused—tropes in fantasy. These mystical beings intrigue and fascinate all who have heard of them. However, since oral tradition, dragons were either an Eastern or a Western entity. This is strange because if most dragon species can fly, then why could they be found in just two regions in our world? Culture and tradition aside, this is a question some readers considered as they were reading. Where could dragons could fly to if they existed? Evan Winter took this idea and wrote it into his world, which takes place in an African inspired setting. Yes, dragons exist in Africa as the author presents his outlook on them in his debut novel, The Rage of Dragons, the first book in The Burning series.

Our protagonist is Tau Tafari. He is an adolescent who is old enough to Test for the military of the Omehi, his tribe. Tau has had a very interesting upbringing. His mother is a High Common woman who ran off with his father who is a Lesser, or low born. After Tau was born, his mother abandoned them and returned to her family’s home and status. Yet, the Omehi is matriarchal, so Tau’s surname is his mother’s, which is a reminder of Tau’s true status. However, Tau is raised and is treated as his father’s son; he is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, which includes a life in the military and servitude.

There is one bit of happiness for Tau, and it is his crush, a handmaiden named Zuri. Tau sees himself settling down with Zuri and having a family. In fact, those desires are so strong, Tau considers whether or not serving in the Omehi military is worth it. Unfortunately, by the time Tau comes up with a dangerous, yet practical, plan to gain all he desires, he loses all he holds dear to him and finds himself in exile. Now angry and alone, he finds he no longer has anything left to lose, so he sets a new goal: join the military and become the greatest Ihashe warrior of all-time and take his revenge on those who’ve wronged him. And, to note this change in his life, Tau decides to use his father’s surname, Solarin, from that day forward. Now, all Tau has to do is pass the Testing, become an Ihashe Initiate, train with other Initiates in his Scale (or unit), and move through the ranks of the military with the hope that the Xidden tribe doesn’t attack (again) before he gets his revenge. All of this shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Although Tau believes he is alone, this changes when he is placed in a Scale and gets to know the other Initiates. First, there is Umgondisi (captain or general) Jayyed Ayim, who is a former advisor to the Guardian Council and has a very special interest in Tau and in the other Initiates in his Scale. Second, is Hadith, who becomes the Scale’s strategic planner. Third, is Uduak, an Initiate known for both his size and his prowess on the battlefield. He is more aware of Tau’s anger and what it’s doing to him more than anyone else. Last, is Zuri, who had to leave Tau and her family when she Tested and became an Initiate of the Gifted—a female with powers to call dragons. All of these characters assist Tau with becoming the warrior he wants to be, which is close to achieving vengeance. In addition, his companions keep him grounded and level-headed as they learn to work as a Scale, and move up the ranks.

The Rage of Dragons is a military epic fantasy, and one readers will find themselves immersed in. And while the author presents a military fantasy, the pacing does not affect the story overall. For instance, Tau wants to become the best Ihashe warrior, but it’s not going to happen within a short time frame. Tau’s training takes years, but it doesn’t read that way, due to the way the author writes the duration of the training. The pace of the story and the training matches Tau’s emotions: intense and blurred. There are times when you realize how much time has passed within the narrative and it’s because the military scenes are so well-written.

Winter takes a lot of time explaining the world he’s created through the world’s history, culture and magic system. The history of the Omehi doesn’t begin with the events in the prologue, but from before they had to leave in search of a new home. The culture is based on a caste system, and if you’re not a High Common, then being Tested is the only way for the Lessers to elevate themselves to a higher status; yet, they are still expected to serve the High Commons. The soldiers, the Lessers, and those with the magic to call dragons are expected to serve. This world, while rich in detail, presents the conflict within this society. It is not only the division within the caste system of the Omehi that is presented, but also the division between the Omehi and the Xiddeen, which has lasted for almost 200 years. The lifestyle filled with so much segregation can’t last forever. In fact, which is more important: a personal vendetta, or preventing war amongst two hostile tribes? Eventually, rebellion becomes more and more conceivable.

At first, Tau is against joining the army until he gains a reason to fight. And, while this might sound like the start of another fantasy trope, Winter illustrates how a goal can evolve into an obsession that can consume you. Tau is angry and he is obsessed with this goal for vengeance to the point where you’re left wondering if he’s going to snap. Then, the author surprises his readers with another reality check towards the end of the book that puts everything into perspective for Tau (and readers), but will his goal be forgotten?

The Rage of Dragons is the first book in an African inspired military epic fantasy about war, dragons, the struggle for power, and the purpose of war. The dragons are a small part of this world and that’s all right due to the worldbuilding and the characters presented in the story. By the time you get to the end of the book, you’ll be eager to start reading book two, The Fires of Vengeance.

Winter delivers us a new story about dragons without the fantasy tropes attached to it. The Rage of Dragons is a fantasy debut combining dragons and warfare with African influences. Both the story of revenge and the emotional impact it has on an individual will keep readers engaged until the end. This story should not be missed by anyone!

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One Comment

  1. I prefer eastern dragons above western dragons games like Final Fantasy and Legend of Dragoon offered some of the most diverse memorable dragons out there. Western dragons, except for Dragon heart, are the same to me. From Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, they always make them creatures that only breath fire and that’s it. I write dragons that have X-Men like powers lol. Or I would have a race of dragons waging war with other mythical beings AND ACTUALLY LOSE. It’s fun writing the stuff I tell ya.

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