Book Review: The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter

This review may contain spoilers for the previous book in the series – The Rage of Dragons.

The Fires of Vengeance is the sequel to Evan Winter’s phenomenal debut novel, The Rage of Dragons, and the second book in his The Burning series. The Rage of Dragons was one of my favourite books of 2020 and so I was pretty hyped to read this one – and I am glad to say that excitement was justified!

The story picks up almost immediately where The Rage of Dragons left off. The Omehi people are divided and civil war looms on the horizon, while their enemies, the Xiddeen, threaten their borders. All in all, not a great situation for Tau and our heroes to be in, but as Champion of the newly-crowned Queen Tsiora he must help find a way to defeat the usurper, and her sister, Queen Esi – a role he is only all to willing to get stuck into as Esi’s Champion is none other than Abasi Odili, the man Tau has sworn vengeance on for the killing of his father.

Tau’s drive for vengeance is still very much a major plot point here (I mean, the book is called The Fires of Vengeance!) but it isn’t quite as all-consuming as it was in the first book. We all know Tau isn’t always a good or likeable character, but he is fascinating and intriguing. Here he loses a bit of his single-mindedness and starts to actually think through the consequences of his actions and the path they have taken him down. At least slightly, anyway. He is still the same Tau at heart; the character we all loved to read but were also frustrated by because of his sole focus on revenge.

Away from Tau, we do also get some POVs from a handful of other characters too. The story is still very much Tau’s story and told predominately from his view point, but these quick inserts through other character’s eyes are really well done and helped flesh out the world, in my opinion. I especially enjoyed Esi’s POV scenes, whish really show us a different viewpoint on Tau, Tsoira and our protagonists.

Aside from Tau, this book really shines and revolves around the action sequences. Just like The Rage of Dragons. Evan Winter really does write some of the best action around and this book plays into that with its relentless pace. I would say that, pacing wise, it is a little slower than the previous book in the series, but that’s all to the good. Without those slight breaks, Tau wouldn’t have time to begin his more introspective development.

Being slightly critical, I wasn’t able to give it five stars on Goodsreads as the first third didn’t quite grip me in the way that the later bits of the book – or the opening chapters of The Rage of Dragons – did. It sounds weird, but I would say the opening is anti-climactic as there are a few action sequences that, while undoubtedly well written, didn’t ooze with the same tension were as the rest of the book. I don’t know, for me it just didn’t really take off until about a third of the way in. But then it soared!

Overall, The Fires of Vengeance takes what was great about the first book and runs with it – so, naturally, it has brutal and fast-paced action by the bucketload, immersive African-inspired world-building, break-neck pacing, awe-inspiring dragon scenes, and plenty of time spent in the delightfully creepy Isihogo (a shadowy, demon world.) I definitely recommend it and can’t wait for the next book in The Burning series!


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