The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

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Rating 8.5/10
A strong African-inspired revenge fantasy novel

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 remined 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.

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