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The Rage of Dragons (The Burning Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Book 1 of 2 in The Burning|
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From the Publisher
"Wow. This book hits the ground with stunning action and danger, and it barely lets up as the pages fly by. I loved the African-influence culture, the unique use of dragons and demons, the complex martial and class hierarchy, and it has a magic system unlike anything I've seen before. What a terrific set up for a series!"David Anthony Durham, author of The Acacia Trilogy
"The Rage of Dragons is what fantasy was always meant to be. Winter will pull you into a world of revenge, war, and fire. This isn't just a book, it's an unforgettable experience."Sean Grigsby, author of Smoke Eaters and Daughters of Forgotten Light
"Intense, vivid and brilliantly realized - a necessary read"Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives
"Intense, inventive and action-packed from beginning to end - a relentlessly gripping, brilliant read."James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost
"A Xhosa-inspired world complete with magic, dragons, demons and curses, The Rage of Dragons takes classic fantasy and imbues it with a fresh and exciting twist."Anna Stephens, author of Godblind
"Compelling, expansive and rich. Winter has created an exciting and immersive world of magic, vengeance and wonder"Micah Yongo, author of Lost Gods
"The Rage of Dragons is an uncompromisingly brutal fantasy in a unique, fascinating world I want to see a lot more of. Fans of Anthony Ryan's Blood Song will love this."Django Wexler, author of The Thousand Names
"A refreshingly brutal and imaginative tale of survival and revenge. Evan Winter's battles are visceral, bloody masterpieces, and Tau's climb from exiled Lesser to legendary warrior is earned in a way few writers could hope to match."David Dalglish, author of the Shadowdance Series
"Expertly structured with a keen eye for action and character, The Rage of Dragons is a captivating epic heroic fantasy from a major new talent."Anthony Ryan, author of Blood Song
"The Rage of Dragons takes the best parts of epic fantasy and sets them in a refreshing and inventive new world, a gripping tale that makes clear the true cost of war and colonialism with one of the most enthralling hero's journeys I've read."S. A. Chakraborty, author of City of Brass
About the Author
Born in England to South American parents, Evan Winter was raised in Africa near the historical territory of his Xhosa ancestors. Evan has always loved fantasy novels, but when his son was born, he realized that there weren't many epic fantasy novels featuring characters who looked like him. So, before he ran out of time, he started writing them.
Prentice Onayemi is an Earphones Award-winning audiobook narrator and a voice and film actor who is known for his roles in The Steam-Room Crooner, AmeriQua, and as Joey in the Tony Award-winning play War Horse.--This text refers to the audioCD edition.
- File Size : 7544 KB
- Publication Date : February 12, 2019
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 578 pages
- Publisher : Orbit (February 12, 2019)
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B07L2VKFP5
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,853 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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And this is one of them.
The prologue captured my attention immediately. It took a little time to absorb the new vocabulary and mythology, but it was integrated into the story well enough that the foreign became familiar and then unremarkable.
The story centers on Tau Tafari, a commoner who, by dint of perseverance bordering on psychopathy, becomes one of the greatest swordsman of his time (or so the reader is lead to believe). He is ordinary in everything other than his obsession with seeking vengeance, which by the third act of the book has turned into something else.
The book engages with standard themes of sci-fi/fantasy works that I’ve seen. The macro issues of conquest, colonialism, inequality, and micro issues of family, fidelity, loyalty, and love. It touches on morality and ethics, as the best of these books do. The book, like the best of the genre, also introduces the reader to a large cast of characters, each with their own motivations, perspectives, and murky and shifting intentions.
At least two things make this book a bit different, however.
First, the book is structured to encourage binge-reading. It is episodic. Each chapter takes a little less than an hour to read and has an arc of its own. My time is limited these days, so that’s particularly satisfying to me. By the end, I was shutting my office door to steal a few pages during the work day. Second, unlike a lot of fantasy I’ve seen, it’s not set in some generic Dark Ages/medieval world. It’s set in an African landscape. I’m Black, so that was also interesting, although, to be honest, the African setting didn’t really play into the story much for me. On the other hand, it was satisfying for me to imagine characters in this world that might look like me.
I write for a living. And I could write hundreds of words about this book. But your time would be better spent reading it.
If you want a complex, compelling and captivating story, but your time budget doesn’t allow for hours of uninterrupted reading, this is the book for you. Buy this book. I did. You won’t regret it. I don’t.
Disclosure: I read an advance copy of this book prior to purchasing it.
This was the coming of age portion of the tale, but it didn't feel like the obligatory boy makes enemy, goes to academy, grows powerful and attempts to slay his enemies simplistic stories. There was so much more, the social struggle, the love interest, the cosmos creation story, the demon plane, and it all intertwined beautifully. The story was told and developed without any of that clumsy monologue'ing. It's a complex story and it evolves organically from the actions and words.
A very well written book, and that's coming from a crusty old guy who's read a thousand or so books in this genre.
The writing is of good quality and mostly error free. btw: 5-star ratings are reserved for literary masterworks only
There were times when I was unsure if I wanted to continue journeying such a dark path, and yet, every time, I took up the book again.
About half way through I was slapped in the face with wonder that there is beauty... art... love in our world. What a miracle that the brutish world of our humanity has achieved so much that is of life and healing and grace.
Deep thoughts brought to the surface by this remarkable book.
Top reviews from other countries
So, what is Rage of Dragons about? Well, yes, it does have dragons in it, but not as many as you might think. In fact, they’re positively scarce, albeit making something of an entrance at the most important moment. Anyway, enough about the dragons. This book is actually about a young man called Tau, and Tau lives a familiar life in fantasy circles. He is of a lower class background, destined to be little more than battle-fodder, but when he suffers a great loss, he sets out to change all that. He sets out to change the way of things, and boy does he do that. Let the action commence!
There are lots of things to admire in this book, but one of the best things is the pace and quality of writing. It does seem to take a little while to get going, but once we’re in, we’re in. I genuinely found myself wanting to read onto the next chapter, such was the quality of setup. Perhaps not something I stayed up all night to finish, but certainly a book I was looking forward to picking up again.
The second great thing was the world itself. Now, this was a familiar fantasy world in that it is full of class systems, the downtrodden, dragons, magic, and all that good stuff. But despite holding common themes, it was all wrapped up into something quite unique. The world definitely seemed different, even though it was familiar, and this added to the engaging read. Nice.
And finally, there are some great political twists here too. This could easily become a bash-crash novel with a very focused objective, which may have left it somewhat flat. But it is not only that. There is a higher political agenda here, and Tau finds himself getting caught up in it, which ramps up the story. This is good for the tale.
Contrary to all this is the start. I really don’t know what it was, but until about a quarter of the way through, I struggled a touch. There is certainly action and excitement up front - the epilogue is a battle scene - but for some reason I just didn’t quite get the point. It may have been because I was fighting the challenging terminology (see below), or it may have been something else, but I urge you to read on. This is a great book once it gets going.
As mentioned above, there is some challenging terminology here. Fantasy naming can be a bit wild at times, and here it is probably less wild and may actually be quite well structured. The problem is that I couldn’t see the structure, and so there were a lot of similar words that I didn’t have a proper handle of until quite a way through the book. Yikes. It’s certainly possible to get on with only a passing understanding of the local language, but it might have been nice to have had a bit of an easier ride!
And finally, the fighting. Overall the fighting was really excellent, and I enjoyed it very much. And it is certainly an important part of the book, given Tau’s journey. But on reflection, I do wonder whether some of it pushed just a little too far. I like the rise of an underdog as much as the next person, but this underdog was something quite else. I just fear that he may have stepped a little over the line of realism (noting of course that this is a fantasy novel!)
Overall, I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who reads fantasy. If you are not keen on swordplay, then it might not be for you, but otherwise give it a go.
As to the plot Tau the son of a ordinary soldier finds his life ripped apart by tragedy seeking justice in a world where he belongs to a caste that is literally called lesser by those above them , the nobles who are gifted with magic and gifts that make them superhuman
Working his way into the military under a gifted commander and finding a new home and family among his comrades Tau has one goal to seek vengeance and become the greatest warrior his world has ever known, while unbeknownst to him his empire is under threat as sins of its past come back to haunt and the bill for its crimes is coming due just as its magic always thought to be invincible begins to fade.
While the world is familiar enough castes, nobles magic and dragons all feature but with enough of a stamp by the author that they stand on there own while the author draws on African myths and history and myths and legends for inspiration i wouldn't say it’s that far removed from what you would be used to as a fantasy fan it's a lot of The same tropes just through a different cultural lens a different flavour then the normal European or occasional indian/eastern inspired fantasy but still very recognizable even if the titles and ranks ext were not familiar . I must salute the way the author uses dragons which is sparsely and for impact in this world Dragons are the magical equivalent of weapons of mass destruction destructive on a vast scale with numerous consequences both intended and unintended.
The other difference and by the far the most distinctive and appealing aspect of the story is the protagonist Tau a son of a solder and a high class common a tragic incident makes him seek justice the only way a peasant/common can by becoming a member of the military and seeking revenge through blood duels the only legal recourse open to those not of noble lingeage, to do that he must become the greatest swordsman to ever walk. This is where in my opinion rage comes into its own because while Tau is driven to a near inhuman degree to reach his goal that's all he is he isn't the long lost son of a king, doesn't possess any great natural aptitude is smart but definitely no genius all he has is the willingness to work longer and harder then anyone else to sacrifice and endure more to get more and the author spreads that across the book makes the process of becoming special part of the journey rather then a throw away paragraph or two. in a fantasy world where they are literally chosen one's whose blood makes them bigger stronger and quicker then those they literally call lessers Tau is better simply because he wants it more with the willingness to put in the work it's almost unique in epic fantasy where being special is almost always down to who you are born or somehow being bestowed a gift. It's fresh exciting fantastically well paced and left me hungry for !more. If I had to compare it to someone then I think I would hark back to someone like David Gemmell, well developed characters some humor and a band of brothers albeit with modern senseablity and a more multicultural approach and while violent and gritty it's a long way from being depressing or overwhelming dark, for those newer to the fantasy scene Sebastian de castel greatcoat series would be another with a similar vibe as in telling a somewhat old fashioned tale but a bit gritter and with modern senseablities and a emphasis on the family you make yourself albeit in that authors case a far more European influenced fantasy series. I genuinely hope to be reading this author for many years to come.
Not enabling you to emotionally connect with the characters and it can be quite jarring.
That is what this author does well it focuses on one central character and builds the world around him,I found the book to have a good pace to it some fresh ideas, I found myself finishing the book and looking forward to the next book,that for me is a good thing I am a fussy reader.
Highly recommended to those who like a book with plenty of action with some fresh ideas to boot an author to watch,Stands out amongst a crowded stagnating genre.
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!
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.
It’s quite original in that the main character isn’t born special, there’s no chosen one or destiny. It’s just a raw hard story of hard work and perseverance, a quality that makes him quite endearing. We can all sympathise with struggle, and his story of surpassing his natural talents has us rooting for him.
The pace of the book, is quite fast, it doesn’t let up until the very end!
One caveat however, would be that there are quite a few book specific words and fantasy names to remember. However on the converse this adds to the authenticity of the book. It’s not a traditional white lead. But one of a darker ethnic origin, and the language reflects this introduction of a completely new unknown culture to us.
Overall I couldn’t recommend this book enough. An excellent debut... and I cannot wait until the next one!