Reviews for The Rage of Dragons, by Evan Winter

gallusna's review

Go to review page

5.0

Preamble
My first piece of advice to anyone is to ignore the title. I'll come right out and say it, I loved this book, but it's a very bad title. It does its job, it actually gives you a pretty good idea of what's going to happen in the book, but seriously? The Rage of Dragons? It's really ironic for a book set in such a fresh setting to have such a cliche title. I mean really, this is what I would name the book in an SNL skit about a fantasy writer. I'm not saying this just to bash the title either, but to warn people because the title almost turned me off of this book. I thought "oh good, an edgy title with major forgotten realms vibes, no thanks" and were it not for the glowing recommendations I received, I would never have picked it up, but I did and I'm very happy I did, so if you, like me, found the title offputting, just ignore it.
So I've seen this book compared in many places to A Song of Ice and Fire. "Game of Thrones in a Nigerian inspired setting," they said. Frankly, I don't see it. I suppose there are some similarities. Both are secondary world fantasy, both have dragons, both are very good, but beyond that, I don't see it. Bear in mind this isn't a criticism (you'll notice I think quite highly of this book), just an observation. There is an element of political maneuvering but the story is much more on the ground and combat-focused. You might say the tones are similar but I disagree there as well. The world Winter creates here is fundamentally idealistic and that leads into my first bit of praise.

What I liked
On its surface, to say Xidda, Omehi society, and the wider world around them seem bleak would be putting it lightly. Omehi society is built around the military, it's a culture defined by hierarchy, inequality, and what is, in effect, a form of eugenics that renders the lessers not only socially but physically beneath the nobles. Why do I call this world idealistic then? Simple. This is a story of a character casting off his disadvantages, physical, social, circumstantial, Tau looks at the hand the world deals him and tells the world to go fuck itself. I won't say more to avoid giving anything away but it is incredibly satisfying and empowering to follow.

Questions of deeper meaning and theme aside, the book is just plain awesome and you'll think that almost immediately, then you'll be 200 pages in and almost lose your mind because you didn't think it could get any better, but it does. Trust me, it does. There is a very steep and very well handled power climb that is enhanced perfectly by everything going on in the world. The magic system, society, and conflict work in perfect harmony to make Tau's transformation to badass satisfying, believable, and thoroughly gripping.
Speaking of magic systems, it's important to acknowledge Winter's worldbuilding as a whole. Winter draws inspiration from cultures that are typically underrepresented in the genre and that alone lends the world freshness but even in a vacuum it's incredibly well done. The world feels alive, there was clearly significant research and attention to detail regarding the construction of societies, level of technology, and availability of natural resources as all played off of each other well, but what impressed me most was the magic system. Now, I won't say anything because reading about this firsthand as it was introduced was one of the highlights of the book for me and it really should be experienced that way, but if I have ever steered you right, do yourself a favor and read this book if for nothing else than the magic. It's unlike anything I've seen done before and it is done exceptionally well.

What I didn't like
This will be a short one. I have two criticisms that are actually one. The only problem I had with this book was the prose. It's not even bad, it's not painful to read or anything, it's just not great. There are no breathtaking uses of sentence structure, no beautifully crafted metaphors, none of that, so if that's primarily what you read for this won't be for you. I personally prefer nicer prose but I have no problem with the more effective style a la Brandon Sanderson if everything else is done well, which is the case here. My only specific gripe with the prose that did make the book harder to read was the use of contractions. Winter uses contractions every chance he gets. There is not a single 'is not' in the entire book in dialogue or narration. It's all 'didn't', 'couldn't', 'he'll', 'it's'. Now I don't have a problem with contractions per se, I use them in my own writing when I feel it's appropriate, but there are times where even when I'm speaking throughout my day where I will use two full words over a contraction, it's natural to mix them and there were places where contractions were used that pulled me out of the world for a moment because they read awkwardly.

Overall
Give it a few weeks' hindsight and this could end up on my favorites shelf. Thrilling read all the way through, worth picking up for anyone who doesn't mind a little violence, or maybe more than a little.

rrkreads's review

Go to review page

3.0

It's touted to be a mashup between The Game of Thrones and The Gladiator. And I agree. Though it's more of a Gladiator than The Game of Thrones. It doesn't have the depth of characters or the intrigue present in the Game of thrones. Also, don't be mislead by the title The Rage of Dragons and assume that dragons have a key role to play in it. Though dragons are central to the story, they are not given the agency that they deserve. They are simply used as props, at least in this book of the series. I am not sure if we'll see more of them in the forthcoming books of the series or not.

Synopsis
This is a story of Omehis, a race of gifted people, who escape their motherland and invade another land and spend the next 200 years fighting the native population of the invaded land. While the native Xiddians have numbers in their favor, the Omehis have their dragons. The Omehis also have a complicated hierarchy where the gifted and nobles are considered as higher class and the others (the non-gifted who outnumber the gifted) are considered as lessers.

Tau is one such lesser and he knows his fate is the same as the other lessers i.e. either become fodder for the fight with the Xiddians or live the life of a pitiful destitute. But, a terrible & unfortunate event destroys his best-laid plans and changes his course of life forever. Thirsting for an unquenchable vengeance, he becomes a mercenary and killer. Will he get his vengeance? Will he destroy himself in this quest for retribution or will he realize fate has bigger plans for him? forms the crux of the story.

Ruminations
This book started off really well but after the first trigger point of the story, it was a series of unending fights. The locations, motives, and people changed but the theme was the same. Fighting, fighting and more fighting.

If you are somebody who enjoys action scenes and fights, this book is for you. But, if you are looking for a story, character depth, or even some dragons, then you will be sorely disappointed. The dragons appear only to burn down everything, that's it. They are not characters in the story they are just mindless animals that are manipulated to destroy.

What appealed to me?
I loved the last part of the novel. Ironic, since I didn't care for almost 80% of the story. But, the ending clinched it for me. So much so that I am now eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I liked Zuri's and Jayyed's characters. The only two sane people in the entire story. If I could even remotely care for any characters, it was these two. Tau was also great but my brain disconnected from him whenever he fought and since fighting is all he did in the entire book, I couldn't bring myself to care much for his character. He's an awesome protagonist though and his character development is one to look out for.

What didn't appeal to me?
For starters, from the beginning, the attitude of the Omehis left a very bitter taste in my mouth. The Omehis escape their motherland for some reason and invade this foreign land they call Xidda. They were the perpetrators, yet they claimed victimhood. The natives fought for their land and they kept fighting for 200 years and somehow it's the natives' fault and not the Omehis. This infuriated me.

Their arrogance, their sense of entitlement. It was all a bit too much and too close to home. Though it's a fictional story it reeked too much of colonization. The Omehi queen invaded a foreign land and what did she expect? For the natives to just keel over and die?

The following pertinent questions bothered me:
1. Why didn't the exiled queen beg or bargain for land instead of invading the foreign land and snatching it away from the natives? I could have understood if she had won the war and substantially brought the natives under her control. Instead, her hollow win ensured the continuation of an unnecessary war between the natives and the Omehis for 200 years. What sort of a Queen doesn't use diplomacy? This is a glaring flaw in the story in my opinion.

2. The story began with a dishonorable and detestable act. The natives who were called savages and heathens were driven off from their own land. Though I swallowed my distaste at the despicable victim card the Omehis played despite them being the perpetrators, I was hoping at some point this injustice and skewed morality will be handled in the course of the story. Nope, no such respite. The story didn't address the false victimhood of the Omehis nor did it give any scope for them to see the error in their ways. I can only hope this will be addressed in the next books in the series.

To conclude, you will enjoy this book if you like fighting, gore, and action. This story doesn't have any humor, joy or fun parts. It's action-packed, fast and dark. It is entertaining for the right audience and unfortunately, I am not one of them.

I wasn't impressed with the story, characters or even the underlying principles of this novel. But, I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, it gave me hope. Making a reader, who detested 80% of the story, to, in the end, root for that story is a talent worth mentioning. I am still surprised by how much I liked the last part of the book. I am now eagerly looking forward to the next book. I hope it will be better and the natives are treated better in it.

Initially, this was a two star read for me, but because I enjoyed the ending I bump it up to three stars.

Read my full review here: https://rrkreads.com/the-rage-of-dragons-adult-fantasy-fiction-book-review/

#bookreview #freebiegrade #3starreads #adultfantasy #evanwinter #therageofdragons

jakinabook's review

Go to review page

adventurous dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

It started slow for me and I struggled a bit at first, but when the first betrayal happens, it just takes off! I also wasn't sure how I felt about Tau, but he grew on me quickly. It became a book I could not put down.

maggieslibrarycard's review

Go to review page

challenging dark mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

lyrist126's review

Go to review page

adventurous dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

baksaydora's review

Go to review page

dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

mmadden816's review

Go to review page

5.0

The epic beginning to an epic fantasy tale of Tau Solarin!

From the opening prologue and through to the end, this was a story that read like a freight train picking up speed as it moved towards its final destination. Tau's story is one that is very reminiscent of a coming of age story. Tau's early life was spent under the tutelage of his army father, constantly training and trying to better himself. However, that would be tested when tragedy befell his father, but was due to Tau's own selfishness. This seems to be a common theme, Tau's selfishness and arrogance, until his battle with Uduak. Uduak's ability to batter and break Tau, I believe, led Tau down a path of introspection. Understanding he may be a fighter that is not as skilled as he originally thought, Tau undertakes a long and perilous journey into the deeps depths of hell itself.

I was completely fascinated by growth and development of Tau as not only a viscous fighter, but as a man as well. Throughout much of the book, Tau's arrogance leads to death after death of those around him or the loss of important battles, but it isn't until the end where he is truly challenged with saving the one he loves or Queen Tsiora. Tau's character growth is the most impressive aspect of this story and one that helps to mold this first book into what looks like an amazingly, fantastic fantasy series. I found myself more compelled by the story, class system, world building, and character developments than I did the magic and dragons within the story.

Now, please do not get me wrong here. The battle sequences were vivid, detailed, and utterly brutal. The enervation, enraging, and bone breaking battles made this a story I did not want to put down. Though most of the book was spent through the eyes of Tau and his need for vengeance upon those who slighted him, it ended with an understanding that the only way to survive is to join ranks with some of those who he wanted dead. I can not wait to see what lies ahead for Tau, Hadith, Uduak, Kellan, Yaw, and Jabari as they seek out the traitorous Royal Nobel Odisi in the Palm City!

jonathanj's review

Go to review page

dark fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

peter__b's review

Go to review page

4.0

While the 'origin story' formula is well defined by now, it's hard to argue with the results when they're put together so well. There's very little new here in terms of the story with your unlikely hero experiencing some trauma before going on a vengeance fueled journey to punish those who wronged him. Along the way, you have a love interest and some (admittedly awesome) training montages that eventually lead to some personal and narrative twists before a big (but unfortunately bland) climax. However, while you might be disappointed to hear that the story and plot are quite straight forward, the execution of the protagonist's character arc and world-building still made this stand out as a very enjoyable read.

The African background to this fantasy world was a welcomed departure from your usual middle-age, European fare, although the abundant use of foreign words did make it hard to follow at times. The magic system was similar to a few I've come across before, but it still felt well thought out and unique in its own right. I also liked that it wasn't overused and that the protagonist wasn't solely defined by it. The world was nicely built up and even though there were a few long-winded expository scenes, it still felt nicely developed and worked well for the story.

The characters were a strong point for me as well. The protagonist was mostly likeable and easy to get behind, although his constant brooding and unflinching determination did get a bit excessive at times. The supporting cast of characters was quite decent with a handful of secondary characters having enough personality to make them unique, albeit generally flat overall. The antagonist characters weren't developed much, but it didn't hurt the story since they were more the goal for the protagonist rather than an active hindrance. I would also have liked the 'foreign enemy' to have been explored more, but I suspect that was left for future books.

I quite enjoyed the writing. I suspect the amazing narrator of the audiobook played a big part in that though since he absolutely nailed everything from the accents and voices to pacing and pronunciation. One could argue that there were too many action scenes and while it wasn't that much of an issue for me, I would have appreciated a slightly more diverse array of conflicts. Surprisingly (for me anyway), the first and third acts were quite average while the second act had me hooked. The combination of seeing the protagonist grow as a fighter and see him get gradually closer to his goal just worked marvellously. As for the other two acts, the first was very standard setup while the last was a bit rushed and let down by the fact that the protagonist got so comically overpowered, that I no longer feared for his safety. The climax just became a question of which secondary characters the author was going to kill off.

Despite all those (mostly minor) gripes, it's hard to fault a book that made it hard to put it down. The pacing was consistently quick which meant I was constantly engaged and eager to find out what happened next. Sure, I knew what story beats to expect, but I cared enough about the characters to want to see how they would react to them. As far as fantasy books go, this was easily one of the more fun ones I've read in a while and so it's an easy recommend to anyone who's a fan of the genre. Yes, it has its faults (some of which I didn't even list since they didn't bother me), but for what it set out to do, it did very well.

luca58a93's review

Go to review page

challenging dark tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0