After first 30 pages I already knew that this book would be a 4.5 at best. That might sound harsh but hear me out. The writing style is rather simple, the dialogue is average, not many quoteable lines and so on. BUT! But this book was a huge page turner. From the prologue I knew what i was into, an action packed epic millitary african-inspired fantasy novel. And it delivered on all those fronts and more. I know I had my complaints about Tau (mc) at certain point, and also the romance but by the end it grew on me. Tau was really abit annoying only in a small section of the book, and as the book went on he matured even more so I cannot hold this against the book by any means. It would be hypocritical of me to view it as a flaw since Jorg in Prince Of Thorns (a book i rated 5 stars) was edgelordy and annoying abit at first, not until the end of the first book did I fall in love with the guy. Also let's address the elephant in the room, this novel is Mr Winter's DEBUTE! For a debute this is more then impressive, and I am 100% sure that already in book 2 the prose and the writing style will improve immensely. I am very eager to checkout book 2 which comes out this year apparently, I want to see where the story goes after. As far as side characters go this book had it all, from a big muscled fella of a few words to a snarky witty leader. The crew you follow has great chemistry and when they first interact with each other I felt so much emotional catharsis, truly great stuff. The worldbuilding, although delivered through a TON of exposition, which I did not mind in the end, is great. I love the world this story is set in, I find myself speculating alot about it. The caste system and the injustice you get to experience with it through Tau's eyes was done so fucking well. I felt a raw primal anger in certain bits, I wanted people to just GET what they deserve, on Game Of Thrones level of being angry at some entitled assholes.
Overall it was a great book, I am looking forward to the sequel and I give props to Evan Winter for writing an amazing gripping page turner that this novel was.
The author's parents are from Guyana, he was born in England, he lived for some years of his childhood in Zambia, and now lives in Canada. This is supposed to be a Xhosa inspired African secondary world fantasy novel with bronze age technology, so a few thousand years ago, though he admits he didn't do much research. I can't say whether that's true or not, because I wouldn't know. There's also magic, but I wasn't particularly interested in it. This was originally a self-published novel and I think that comes through clearly in a lot of ways. A considerable number of Xhosa words are used, though some editions supposedly have a glossary. I'm undecided whether they added flavor or were just an annoyance, though I lean towards the former. I would have preferred in there was more consistency in its usage though. I didn't do particularly well in my attempt to imagine every character as black because it turned out that I didn't have enough visual material to work from to form exemplars and had to fall back to prototypes, specific characters I was familiar with. This is a power fantasy novel with a protagonist who uses the power of determination to accomplish his goal. The results of his training were far more than I thought they ought to have been. Arguably it's also wish-fulfillment. The protagonist core motivation is revenge, which he would have you believe is more important than literally anything else, and he goes far in convincing everyone that's true. The content is almost entirely fighting and training, as the protagonist is interested in little else. The protagonist was particularly disagreeable to me, so that was a problem. Most of other characters were fine. Overall, I found it to be consistently meh and I don't plan on reading the second book, but it may still happen sometime in the future if I have the proper motivation to do so. The rating may seem a bit high considering what I've written, but I didn't feel right to have it lower, so it isn't. Those I read it with have significantly lowered its average among /sffg/ members.
Sheesh! I can now breathe.
This is intense, barely lets up and I recommend regular breaks. This world is tough and unfair and the amount of anger coursing through me at times was exhausting.
First up, there are lots of trigger warnings
Off page rape, violence, battle injury, prejudice, in world racism, detailed injury, emotional self harm, alcohol abuse, blood and gore.....
Second, this is a very well crafted fantasy novel with a sympathetic lead character. Tau is flawed, doesn't think things through and spends most of his time reacting to the things thrown at him. And why wouldn't he? The society he is in has given him no free will, no means of choosing his own path and dreams. He is trapped by oppression. He can only react to what is before him and wait for the next thing to get him.
There is history to this world, much of the structure of society has come from that history and not people to change and adapt.
There's much to take away from The Rage of Dragons about caste systems and the military, none of it complimentary.
This is not a fun read but any stretch. Bad things happen to people we care about. But it's one of the best fantasy books I've read this year and I highly recommended it.
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