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.
So, I have actually had a Kindle copy of Winter’s The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) for a while now as it was originally released in September of 2017. I picked it up purely based on the original cover, synopsis, glowing reviews, and the fact that it happened to be on sale when I came across it. Suffice it to say, it was going to be on Mt. TBR for a good little while as it wasn’t on my “review radar”. (Sorry, Evan…)
Well, low and behold, Winter’s baby (which would make a good book or movie title on its own) was picked up by Orbit – THE premier fantasy and science fiction publisher right now (a publisher that has failed to send me a book I didn’t at least enjoy, let alone LOVE) – and given a makeover.
I MEAN, LOOK AT THAT ASTOUNDING COVER BY KARLA ORTIZ.
IT GIVES ME GOOSIES EVERY TIME I LOOK AT IT.
Having said that, I do love how they kept the “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones” bit, though they could’ve added “with a dash of Wakanda” to give you an even more approximate picture of what you are getting yourself into. Easy to see why I decided to go ahead and give it a shot.
The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) is, at its very heart, a tale of revenge. Oh sweet, sweet revenge. It is a bittersweet thing. One that clouds the mind and creates tunnel vision, blocking out all exterior influences until climax, leaving a then unfillable void. Tau knows this, but the emotion he is overcome with blinds him. He sacrifices his wants and the future he has set for himself to fixate on the the life now thrust upon his shoulders.
But it also a tale of overcoming adversity. Destined to be apart of a lower class of society, one that will always be crushed under the heel of the upper class and flung into the front lines of war, Tau sets out to prove his worth and grit. Though he doesn’t have the ability to call dragons or go into a berzerker-like state, Tau manages to gather strength and determination through consistent and torturous training, giving him the edge he needs to fulfill his need.
While the author plays on some of the well-known fantasy tropes, he brings them to life in a new light. Epic world-building, a new and enchanting magic system, never-ending / fast-paced action, and a protagonist that you will become fully spellbound by. The Rage of Dragons is the fantasy epic you didn’t know you needed and I, for one, am kicking myself for not getting to it sooner.
Fans of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series will find a lot to love here. Honestly, anyone with an epic fantasy bone in their body needs to give this book a shot. I see big things coming for Winter as this story continues to unfold and I am excited to see where things escalate from here.