“This is the choice you need me to make?” Tau asked, choking up. “A choice between woe and wrath?
And do you know what I’ll choose, Grand General Buhari, when given such a choice?”
“Wrath, Champion,” Hadith said quietly.
“You’ll choose wrath.”
Evan Winter returns with an absolute bang with the continuation of The Burning series. The first book Rage of Dragon blew me away due to the intense and brutal fight sequences, the brilliant world building, the complex characters. The sequel works its way upwards by adding more depth and excitement to the qualities I found in book one.
Hands down the fight sequences so far in this series have been nothing short of phenomenal. They reminded me a lot of the Lord of the Rings and fighting sequences in the most recent God of War game. I loved the intensity of every battle and every confrontation that occured. Evan Winter had me ready and primed to through hands. The stakes are even higher this time around which again added to the intensity.
The Fires of Vengeance continues straight off from the second book. Tensions are extremely high as the Xidda tribe continue to push forward in their task of annihilating Omehi people. Their numbers keep on increasing and are unlikely to stop any time soon. What makes things worse for the people of Omehi is the fact their is a major divide that has occured within the kingdom between Queen Tsiora, the rightful heir to the kingdom and her sister Queen Esi.
Now one important thing to understand is that their is a caste system within Omehi. On one hand we have the nobility folk who believe themselves better than those below them. Esi believes those who aren’t nobles i.e. lessers don’t deserve to rise up and excel in the world. On the other hand, Queen Tsiora wishes to unite everyone as one.
Now to further add to the ever increasing drama is that each queen has their own champion. The Champion for Tsiora is the main protagonist Tau Solarin. How would I describe Tau Solarin you say? Think of Kratos from the God of War series. An incredibly angry dude whose veins flow with vengeance.
The reason why he stands by the side of Tsiora and rightfully so is because the champion of Queen Esi is Abas Odili. Odili is the reason for all that Tau has lost and is the main enzyme that has set off the events that have occured thus far. Thus, by sticking with Tsiora, Tau will be able to stay on the path of gaining his revenge once and for all.
One of many reasons why I was so hooked to the story was the complexity of the character of Tau Solarin. His driving force in life as a result of events that occured in the first book are revenge, revenge, and revenge! As with the God of War Kratos, all Tau wants to do is get stronger and stronger in order to punish those who have done wrong to him and his loved ones. Tau is very much in a dark place and is struggling to push himself out of this phase. But he is so consumed by rage that as a reader you do worry about him.
Being fueled by revenge has come at a major cost to his mental health and psyche. The way in which Tau has become as strong as he is is by doing the most maddening thing I’ve ever seen. Tau is able to traverse to the underworld known as “Ishigo” where he fights demons. The best way to describe these demons is through the picture below
These demons have one thing on their mind alone and that’s to tear apart those who enter to shreds like Donner kebab meat. Although no one can be killed in Ishigo(unless you draw it’s powers inside of you), the more time you spend in Ishigo, the more likely an individuals mind becomes damaged due to demon haunting.
“He died thirteen times, each worse than the last, and every ending was excruciating. He could usually manage more before becoming hesitant, and he blamed the long night and longer day for his reluctance to keep fighting.”
In saying that though it’s the fights with the demons that had me right on the edge as they were so exhilarating and intense. The fight sequences are even more brutal and bloody as Tau cuts his way through demons and humans. Part of you wants to be there fighting along with Tau, whereas as the other part knows you’d probably leave a puddle behind before getting your heed cut off 😅😂.
There are also many other brilliant characters that are definitely worth mentioning. Firstly, we have many strong female characters who added a lot of depth to the story. I for one really really liked Queen Tsiora. Her character really blossoms and you begin to understand her much better and the pressure she is under. Like Tau she has also suffered loss and heartbreak in her life. There are also subtle hints of a romance occuring between Tau and Queen Tsiora. It felt very real as it wasn’t stuffed in your face.
We see the return of Tau’s sword brothers Hadith and Uduak. These guys are the definition of a brotherhood. I loved how no matter what they looked out for each other.
It also blew me away how Evan Winter makes you question who the real villains are. I can’t say anything without spoiling but you’ll be questioning everything you thought about them.
Finally, I want to quickly talk about the world building. The Omehi people are structured based on a strict caste system that leads to divisions. You have the bottom of the barrel Drudges who are considered fodder. At the top you have the high Nobles and Gifted who are the creme de la crème.
“Nobles had the better of every thing and they wrapped themselves in that betterment, appearing to onc else as beautiful, right, and good, just like sunlight.”
There are also a lot more political and military elements in the sequel. Tau and Tsiora must keep one step ahead of their enemies and prevent attempts on their lives. They face betrayal and alliances are tested vigorously. This made for intense reading as there were many times I was like “It’s a game over fam!”. I really enjoyed the military tactics that were featured in this book. It reminded me a lot of the Poppy War series by Rebecca F Kuang.
I also absolutely love the lore/mythology in this series. Evan Winter further opens your mind to the possibilities in this world which blew me away. I already thought I knew enough about the demon world of Ishigo, history of the Omehi people, and their sworn enemy the Cull. But there is so much more after reading this and the more I learned the more I was like
Overall, this was Rage of Dragons but on crack. It is epic in every way and the more I think about it the more I love it. The fight sequences are absolutely brutal yet an adrenaline rush to my amygdala (I googled this). I wish I had book three in my hands right now because that ending was just asdfghjkl
Thank you again to the lovely Angela and the Orbit team for sending this to me 😊