The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter (The Burning #1)
Reviewed by Sam!
What I drank prior: It’s super tuesday. We live in DC. We’re watching. There are drinking rules. It’s 11:30 and I’ve had a whole bottle of wine and I’m probably opening another.
Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.
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.
Drunk Overview: Alright.. so our main man Tau… he’s like… the 2nd caste in this world (African-inspired – see the GR overview for more specifics, I know it’s a giant continent and “African” isn’t helpful). In this world, the only way you can move up/prove yourself is by being accepted into the elite miltary. It’s “generally known” that only the top caste gets the top spots… On test day, while warming up, he kicks the shit out of a super-noble and the other super-nobles see. He’s basically sentenced to death, but daddy steps in and is murdered in his stead. Tau makes it his life’s mission to avenge his father so that he can be at peace and marry the woman he loves.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: When I heard this was an African-inspired fantasy with dragons I was like “sign me TF up.” It was tome topple time. It was Black History Month. It was basically perfect. Until… I was lied to. This story only tangentially has dragons. It only tangentially has magic. It’s a military story. Not a bad one, just not what I wanted.
Characters: So, as expected, Tau collects a squad. He works harder and takes more risks than others and that makes him formidable. And he wins a lot. He’s ambidextrous (omg did I spell that right?) which is baller. He… grows? kinda. His inner struggle is tough to watch. His bae is amazing. She never gives up despite being selected for the upper echelons of society becaue of what she can do. Tau’s squad… they’re sorta awesome. They’re actually my favorite part of this whole story. The big guy is my fave. The teacher is fine too I guess. Tbh this book is more about military training and strategy than anything else.
Plot: Which brings me to plot. WHAT WAS THE PLOT?! I had no idea where we are going until the last 4th of the book. Once we got there I loved it, but for a tome (over 500 pages) I really shouldn’t have had to wait until the last 4th for me to be invested. But damn, that last 4th was legit. Did this book pass the bechdel test? Nope. Sure didn’t. Not once. I don’t think there’s more than 2 named characters and they never speak to each other.
Writing Style: It was… fine. It was normal adult fantasy. Nothing super lyrical.
World Building: I sort (but actually) love this world. I just wish we’d shed some of the training weight and made it a montage.
What to pair it with: Bud Heavy. It gets you the same result but has extra calories.
Rating: 2/5 shots
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,