Desperate to delay an impending attack by the indigenous people of Xidda, Tau and his queen craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all-out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the ‘true’ Queen of the Omehi.
If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne and reunite her people, then the Omehi might have a chance to survive the coming onslaught.
The Fires of Vengeance is the second book in The Burning series by Canadian author Evan Winter which is published by Orbit books.
This story continues directly from the events in The Rage of Dragons and we continue to follow Tau through his journey of growth from a lesser, a nobody in the hierarchy of the world he lives in, to where he is now, Queen Tsiora’s Champion.
Immediately I want to tell you that this book had about half of the ‘action’ that occurs in its predecessor and that is because this space has now been fleshed out with politics and character building that focuses on Tau’s new position and how those closest to him, both friend and foe, react to it. This isn’t a bad thing. Politics in fantasy can be exciting and interesting, A Song of Ice & Fire made it deadly, but I think after the heavy action in TROD, I was accustomed to it and wanted more because it was so good! With that being said, there is a good amount of action in here so if you can accept that this is a four book story, you will forgive that it drops here slightly to make way for other necessities.
It’s obvious to see that Evan is really taking him time with this series so that he can continue to build on something groundbreaking. An African-inspired fantasy story that encompasses a class system, enemies, lovers, friends, demons, epic battles, dragons, magic and loss. It wouldn’t surprise me that as these books continue to be written, they grow in size for there is a large world he has mentioned snippets of and we’re only halfway through this story.
I really liked Tau’s growth in this story. He was strong but the stakes were raised to a level where I felt he was being challenged which is important for him as he comes across so invincible. It prompted decisions to be made by him and a maturity to grow from within him that maybe wasn’t there before. He has to adjust to the politics of being the Queen’s Champion and the fact that he is a lesser in a role normally filled by someone with a higher class which brings all kinds of problems for him to navigate.
I enjoyed the parts where Tau took us back into Isihogo but at one part they felt constant like in the first book where he was training a lot there. I didn’t mind it in the first book as much because it was new and exciting but we know about it now so although he is there to assist others who are new, it just felt like a replayed part and maybe slightly less of this would have sufficed.
I am really interested to see where Evan takes this new part in which we see that Tau is now seeing demons outside of Isihogo. It really raises the stakes and there were parts where I scanned the text ahead to see what was happening as Tau dealt with the repercussions when this occurred.
The worldbuilding was again great and arguably the best part for me. Evan has created a huge world and in this book it continues to grow with battles, enemies and new areas explored. I want to hear more of the invading troops, the ships sailing the sees from other lands and the dragons! I’m sure this will happen more in the next book since the end of this book was a cliffhanger teasing just that.
I enjoyed this book a lot and actually own them both in hardback. While I gave TROD a 10 and this story an 8, this isn’t going to change the fact that I will be buying the next two entries in this series in hardback too. I love Tau as a character, his tenacity and determination are admirable. I love this world and the magic that has been weaved into it and I just hope the magic plays a bigger part in the future stories because it is unique, well done and exciting to see displayed.
I think Evan is a great writer with such a smooth prose that is delightful to read as it slips down like a well aged wine. The story itself really encompasses what I imagine an African-inspired story is. It’s exciting, punchy and has some twists and turns that will have your eyes glued to the pages. Just accept that this book more politics than the first one and you will enjoy this a lot.