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.
“Where we fight!”…..”The world burns!”
First things first, this is without a doubt the best book I have read this year and the best debut novel I have ever read. That’s quite the introduction I know, but Evan Winter’s The Rage of Dragons deserves all of the praise that it has been getting.
This African inspired novel was a whirlwind from start to finish. From the first few pages I was hooked. The stakes were high from the start and they only got higher as I grew to know and love the characters.
“He was not the strongest, the quickest, or the most talented, not by any measure. He knew this and knew he could not control this. However, he could control his effort, the work he put in, and there he would not be beaten.”
We follow Tau in 3rd person perspective for almost all of the book. Although this book was pretty fast paced, it did not suffer from what some books do. It did not sacrifice character development for entertainment’s sake. In between the incredibly well written action scenes we have so many moments where we get to know characters, their motivations, their hopes, prejudices, and struggles. The villains were also written very well even though they don’t get much page time. I cared deeply about all the characters, either loved or hated them, and that says a lot. I would definitely love to see some more character development for some of the side characters in future books. However, that didn’t bother me at all because it is the very first book with only 1 perspective. I’m sure we will see more of this in the 3 more books in this series.
Within the wild ride of this story we get to see an incredible world open up to us. Evan Winter seamlessly weaves worldbuilding into the narrative. I prefer zero info dumps if possible and the author managed that brilliantly. I especially liked the magic system. It was very unique and I look forward to diving deeper into it, as well as the spiritual realm of Isihogo that is at it’s core.
“I can’t imagine a world where the man holding a sword does not have the last say over the man without one.”
The culture and caste system were very intriguing and fascinating to learn about. They added an extra layer of depth to our protagonist, his struggles, and the world itself. I am excited to learn more about them as well throughout the rest of the series.
I cannot recommend a book more highly than this one. If you love a fast paced plot, in depth characters, and excellent worldbuilding, pick up The Rage of Dragons. You won’t regret it.