“The Rage of Dragons” by Evan Winter rocked my balls so hard I had to lie down, decompress, let the typhoon of emotions settle for several nights, and still I imploded.
It’s such a fucking good book. The characters are amazing, the magic system is unique, and the pacing had this breakneck speed I feared for whiplashes. But nah, Winter was gentle to step on the brakes every now and then, giving us warm characterization, opening doors for us to like others. I haven’t encountered any character I disliked, so far. Well, maybe one – but that one is so far back, that hardly matters.
The dragon-summoning system is fucking awesome and when you learn more about it, brains will splatter the walls, the hallways, the driveway, everywhere. And you just kind of get, it makes sense, of course, it’s damn brilliant!
Training scenes are incredible. Just, fucking Rank S+ tier incredible. It makes you wince; it makes you want to look away, it makes you uncomfortable, it breaks your jaw in half and leaves it hanging. It is built exactly that way, to let you know how fucking serious and how fucking angry our main protagonist, Tau, is. He’s only a mediocre human being but he’s pissed and he has a goal, and he’ll kill himself over and over to reach it. To butcher VE Schwab (or was it Rin Chuperico?) tweeted, never underestimate the power of spite.
There is a phrase in the book that left a big fire in my heart.
“The days without difficulty are days you do not improve.”
It’s powerful, inspirational, and very true.
There is another quote that rumbled up my feelings but am ultimately, in total agreement with.
“Life is nothing more than moments in time. To achieve greatness, you have to give up those moments. You have to give your life to your goal.”
Powerful. True. But difficult.
Welcome to the Valley of Spoilers
Here I’ll just talk about the stuff I liked, loved, and disliked.
1) Tau discovers he is left-handed. Or so it seems to me. His sword hand, which I presume is the right, gets broken early in the book. So he trains with his left and believes to be even better at it than his other hand. This later evolves into his two-sword style, where he butchers everyone in sight.
2) Tau kills Lekan Onai.
3) The Scale battles. Lots of awesome battle scenes.
4) In the prologue, the hedeni had magic that allowed their people to multiply. Scary.
5) Tau’s intense training. He’s the last to sleep, first to get up, continues to train nonstop.
6) Tau’s intense training intensifies when he gets killed. And then gets killed some more. (If by any chance you are reading this, and if you haven’t read the book, well, this should intrigue you.)
7) The magical tethering between the magic user and warrior, which basically turns them into Smart Hulks or Juggernauts. The two-way system how it works, where the magic user has a limited time for this and will die if the tether isn’t broken, which is determined by the warrior. Dangerous shit going on around.
8 )Dragons are really answering a call, but they aren’t technically “summoned.” And the entire behind-the-scenes is horrifying.
9) Tau losing his mind after the intensified intense training.
10) One of the supposed bad guys isn’t really a bad guy and actually seems like a pretty cool guy.
11) The Trojan Horse.
12) The ending! That ending! That fucking ending!
What I didn’t like: Mentor gets beaten and then impaled, while Tau watches in horror and hopeless to stop it. It’s just an exhausting trope I find, and the most predictable thing ever. One sentence after introducing him, I was like, yup, you going to die.
That sums it up. Amazing book. Can’t wait for the sequel. Go read it if you haven’t yet!