Twitter Review: The dragons get the title, but African-tinged epic fantasy, Rage of Dragons, interrogates rage from quite a few angles.
Affiliate Link: The Rage of Dragons
First Line: Queen Taifa stood at the bow of Targon, her beached warship, and looked out at the massacre on the sands.
Review: Let’s start the review where the book starts, the prologue. This is a far meatier prologue than most fantasy novels. It does a lot for the novel in terms of world-building and establishing the magick system used throughout. It also establishes that this is a book where giant, bloody battles are going to happen, and that the protagonists (NOT the good guys, but we’ll get into that later) are going to be fighting against overwhelming odds throughout the novel. I was very impressed how much heavy lifting is done , especially considering this is the author’s debut novel.
After the prologue, we pick up the story of Tau, the main character, a teenage boy. Like, most teenage boys, Tau is angry. And he’s going to stay angry throughout the book. His rage is going to inform all of his choices, and form the backbone of the story. He’s got a lot to be angry about. His society is a caste system, the girl he likes isn’t attainable, in order to become a citizen he has to become a soldier and go fight against an overwhelming horde hell bent on destroying his entire society, etc. etc.
Not that their society is a shining beacon of morality justice. Heavily caste based, fled from their own homeland due to a mysterious big bad (who I’m pretty sure will show up in Book 3, but I get ahead of myself), invaded and took over a large chunk of land from an indigenous culture, which they then used WMDs (dragons) on to maintain their fragile graspi, and then spent the next two hundred years throwing every available citizen into the grinder instead of, you know, forging a peace.
Tau leaves his small hamlet to go to the big city, where he manages to get picked for an elite military through sheer stubbornness. My favorite part of the book is the middle section training montage. I’m a sucker for those.
The end of the book is satisfyingly twisty, and Winter’s build up of angsty Tau makes the choices made at the end feel earned and sets up a sequel. Good news on that front as Winters signed a deal for another 4 books in the series. Revelant Tweet
Without giving too much away, I like how this book, subtly, manages to discuss and comment upon colonialism, class inequality, nation level diplomacy, while tackling “lesser” personal issues as well. How much do you owe your country? Is serving more or less important than being happy? Is a life worth living if revenge is your every thought? Are the things we do meaningful if done selfishly?
Winter’s writing is good enough that the various moral and ethical issues he interrogates are woven throughout the story, and don’t stand out until you put the book down for a bit and start thinking about what you read. He also has the book broken up into mini-arcs, making for a lot of natural places to pause.
I ignored them and read the last 40 percent of the book in one sitting. Whoops.
Final Verdict: I’m super excited for the FOUR sequels we’re going to get. I can’t wait to see how Tau’s unique training regime is going to feature in the sequels. I’m sorta hoping for him to get his own unit. On the preorder list.