Clear your schedule before you pick up this book
When you start The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, you won’t be able to stop.
Like most fantasy novels, it starts with a prologue and, despite what your personal feelings may be on that topic, this one works. It drops you into a world that feels established, one with a long history that’s hinted at but not fully revealed. Yet.
In the prologue you shift perspectives four times, unusual in such a short space of time, and something that isn’t done again for the rest of the novel. That takes place purely from one point of view, the main character, Tau.
(Until the epilogue, then it swaps again).
You could easily mistake The Rage of Dragons for a simple, standard revenge novel. And don’t get me wrong, it is about revenge, but it’s far more than simple. It’s not the usual fantasy version of revenge, where the protagonist does horrendous things that have no consequences and all ends happily.
This book is realistic within the universe it creates. Winter delves deep into the psyche of his main character and doesn’t relent until the final word of the novel. It is a non-stop dive into what drives people to do extreme acts and how they try to deal with the consequences of their actions.
Tau is a headstrong, arrogant, driven young boy at the start of the novel. At the end of the novel…well, you’ll have to find out for yourself but suffice to say, this isn’t a straightforward book.
It’s not a book that pulls punches either. Tau and the cast of characters surrounding him get put through the ringer and they come out changed.
The Rage of Dragons is a fast book. It starts already jogging on a treadmill and by the time it’s done you’re sprinting, both hands held on the rails for dear life as you feel like your feet will be whipped out from underneath you at any moment.
The pace doesn’t falter, even the sections without explicit action read like they were written franticly. This isn’t always a good thing. When I reached the end of the The Rage of Dragons I felt wrung out. Exhausted.
I put the book down and just sat there, my mind a whirl with what I had experienced through Tau, and Winter’s incredible writing.
But it took me a few weeks to pick up another book, such was the emotional and mental exhaustion of The Rage of Dragons. This might appeal to you, it certainly appealed to me (I pre-ordered the second novel, Fires of Vengeance, as soon as humanly possible), but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the speed and emotional toll of this novel is too much for some readers. It makes sense too, Tau is put through things that I have never read before. He is emotionally, mentally, and physically tried in every way and it can be, at times, hard to read.
Winter pulls you through, however, with early work in endearing Tau to the reader. It hurts to read this book because you care about the character, it hurts to finish this book because you want to find out what happens next.
Pick up The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, don’t bother making a cup of tea if that’s your thing, you’ll forget about it and it’ll be cold by the time you come up for air. Instead, have a glass of water ready, because when you do surface from the rapid torrent that is this novel, you’ll feel exhausted and need a drink, and you’ll feel incredibly satisfied when you do.