The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Yay – another book review is up!
Just to do my usual caveats – I don’t do starred reviews. I only write reviews for books that I enjoyed. Nothing negative here – there is enough of that in the world. Just because a certain book is not my cup of tea, it doesn’t mean it won’t be yours – and who am I to put anyone off reading a book?
Also, I don’t do spoilers. I maybe go into what happened in chapters one/two – just to explain the set up, but after that I don’t discuss the plot or twists.
So many people told me about this book and the chatter instantly piqued my curiosity. Set in an African inspired culture, this book STARTS with an epic battle. It’s action packed from the get go – and of course, there are dragons.
The story pulls you in from the first page:
The Omehi have invaded a new country. A strange thing called “The Cull” has destroyed their homeland, and so they have sailed across the sea to find a new place to live. The only problem is this new land is already inhabited by the Hedeni – and they do not want the newcomers to settle.
The Omehi hope to win this new land from the native Hedeni because of their magical fighting skills and because their queen (as well as other Gifted women) can call dragons to fight for them. The epic battle at the start sets up the magic system and shows us how the Omehi fight – and how the Hedeni fight back. It’s brutal and magical, but of course, it’s hard to defeat a dragon.
Once the first battle is over, we discover that the main story starts one-hundred-and-eight-six cycles after the opening chapter; and here we see how the invaders have fared in this new land.
Now that the pace has slowed, we get to see how their society is structured. The Omehi have split their male society into three main castes. The nobles, the lessers, and drudges (which are essentially slaves). Life seems to be hard, but the people are living relatively peaceful lives in the villages. However, there are rumours that the Hedeni are gathering again, that their clans are uniting to fight together, and a new war is looming.
Tau is our protagonist, who is a Omehi lesser, but whose best friend, Jabari, is a noble. We see through Tau’s eyes how revered the nobles are, how their magic works, and how society is not entirely fair. Lessers are not able to use the magic we saw at the start of the book as their blood line is not seen as pure. This doesn’t bother Tau initially. He is a good fighter, but doesn’t enjoy it… and a young woman called Zuri has caught his eye.
However, society being what it is, Tau must train to become an Ihashe warrior, while Jabari is training to become an Indlovu warrior. Tau’s father, Aren, is a great Ishashe warrior and we have some great scenes between Tau, Jabari, and Aren.
Life doesn’t remain simple for very long and Tau’s life soon falls apart. Fighting is no longer something Tau does because he has to… he now does it because he wants to. There are scores to settle. It is thought that a lesser cannot defeat a noble warrior, but Tau certainly intends to challenge this.
Evan Winter has created a fascinating world here. Lots of magic, lots of conflict, both between the Omehi and Hedeni, and between the different classes within the Omehi.
One of the aspects I really enjoyed is that this society is a matriarchal society. Women are superior to men. The Queen is the highest ranking member of society and The Gifted, a group of women with magical powers, sit just below her. This was an interesting change, another aspect that marked it out as being different from the European societal structures that many fantasy epics use as a basis.
I read this very quickly. Tau was an easy protagonist to get along with. Kind, loyal and friendly, but not perfect. Sometimes I have trouble with an MC who is always ideological and always puts honour first. Is that just me? I think those characters always start of well, but can come undone in a series as the voice becomes too predictable. I didn’t feel this with Tau. I felt the conflict within him. I felt his mood become more troubled as the story progressed. However, on the whole, he is a good person. Again, sometimes very grey characters can be difficult to read for a long time because it’s hard to connect to someone who is always selfish or always takes the easy path. Tau doesn’t do this either. He has a plan and intends to see it through.
I would really recommend this book to readers who like lots of battles and lots of training sequences. I definitely got Spartacus vibes when reading this, mixed in with the Hunger Games, but set in a completely unique world.
Now that I have finished The Rage of Dragons, I’m re-reading Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell. My readalong book is Deadhouse Gates and need to pick up the pace with that to be finished by the end of March!
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