Petrik's Reviews > The Rage of Dragons

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
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4.5/5 stars

The Rage of Dragons is a blazing African-inspired epic fantasy debut that was so possessive of my attention, it simply wouldn’t allow me to read anything else until I finished it.


This book was originally self-published and released in September 2017. Honestly speaking, I have seen and known about this book since then but the book wasn’t able to move up the monstrosity that is my TBR tower for some reason. However, its acquisition by Orbit, which resulted in a brand new gorgeous cover art done by the ingenious Karla Ortiz, is a total cover seller—look at the Zulu shield and the intricately apt mural in the cover!—that practically screamed “Buy and read me now” to me, and so that’s what I did.

“I'd rather live with a thing done poorly than do nothing and always wonder how things could have been.”


I believe that the ARC of the book is on its way to me at the moment. Even with that information in mind, knowing that the ebook was already available to purchase (physical copies will be out in July) I bought it to give my support to the author. I was only going to read a few chapters but I ended up being completely hooked and read through it like Sonic the Hedgehog being lured by infinite golden coins; it was too addictive to stop. Let me just say this again before I begin my review. The equation is simple; a fantasy debut published by Orbit these days is for me equal to “I want it.” I haven’t been disappointed at all by the adult fantasy debuts released by Orbit—Kings of the Wyld, Age of Assassins, Jade City, Senlin Ascends, and The Gutter Prayer—over the past few years and The Rage of Dragons once again continues that trend.

“That’s the price. 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.”


The Rage of Dragons is an African (Xhosa) inspired epic fantasy debut by Evan Winter, and it is the first installment in The Burning quartet. The people of Omehi have been caught in an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years, and the story revolves around our main character, the young and gift-less Tau. Tau is determined to just settle down, get married, and live in peace. However, an unfortunate event causes his entire motivation to shift towards the path of vengeance. I really suggest going into this book without knowing about the story, but if you want to know more, the blurb on Goodreads and Amazon is there for you to check out.

At its core, the main theme of the novel is revenge. The best comparison I can think of for this book is Pierce Brown’s sci-fi debut, Red Rising. Don’t get me wrong, the prose is totally different in style and there aren’t any sci-fi elements in this book; but the story progression, the injustice in a social hierarchy, the explosive pacing, and the main character truly made me feel like I was reading Red Rising, which I highly loved. As with Darrow—the main character from Red Rising, I wouldn’t say that I love Tau as the main character, but both Tau and Darrow have this crucial entertaining element for me; they are utterly compelling main characters. Tau is a person with indomitable determination; guided by palpable fury and rage on his road to revenge, his resolve was simply unbending and even though I didn’t really like some of his actions and certain elements of his personality, I found his motivations to be realistically believable and worth reading.

“I can't imagine a world where the man holding a sword does not have the last say over the man without one. If you’re not prepared to fight, you place yourself and everything you love beneath the blades of others, praying they choose not to cut. I have felt the mercy of armed men and they will never find me helpless again."


Told mostly from Tau’s third-person perspective narrative, the accessible prose that never gets in the way of the story enhanced the engrossing flow of the book. Although the storyline was a bit predictable, I found the execution and pacing to be absolutely brilliant. There was always something going on; it was fast-paced, incredibly engaging, and brimming with tension. If I have to choose the most outstanding aspect of the book, it would definitely be the battle scenes. It’s been so long since I’ve read a debut with close-quarter battle scenes of the high caliber featured within this novel; it felt like reading Abercrombie’s gritty action sequences. Every battle was easy to follow, gripping, and vivid. The heart-pounding actions never stop escalating until the climax sequences. Believe me, there was a barrage of awesome duels, and I simply can’t get enough of them. Winter combines cinematic scenes and economical characterizations wonderfully. There was never any moment where the characters were just fighting emotionlessly like robots. The brief respites between one danger and the next were very efficiently utilized for characterizations and emphasizing characters’ motivations clearly.

“It was the purity of it, the honesty. When Tau sparred, it was just him and his opponent. All that mattered was experience, skill, determination, and will. The rest of the world slipped away, leaving only the next move, the next counter, the next attack, the next victory.


The magic system and the demonic aspect of the book were both clever and felt refreshing. I also loved reading every section that involved Isihogo; I’ll leave that for you to find out for yourself. Admittedly, I had two minor issues with the book that prevented me from giving it a full 5 stars rating. The first was that it took some time for me to get used to the in-world terminologies. There were only a few explicit explanations and it’s up to the reader to understand what each term meant through the context of the story; there was a quite lot and in my opinion, a glossary would help. Although by the end I have understood almost all of them, it took half of the book for me to get a grasp on what most of the words/terms/honorifics meant. The other issue was that I feel the book would’ve benefited from more noteworthy female characters, especially after considering how the female characters in this series have the potential to be extremely powerful and flawed in personality. There were only two noteworthy female characters throughout the whole book and one of them appeared only near the end. That being said, seeing the way the story concluded in the first book, there’s a huge chance the second issue I had with the book will be redeemed in the next installment and I highly look forward to it. In the grander scheme of things, my rating speaks for itself and these minor cons only slightly diminish my overall enjoyment of the book.

“The days without difficulty are the days you do not improve.”


This was my first experience with reading African-inspired epic fantasy and I want more. Evan Winter is another new fantasy voice to watch out for; his voice deserves to be heard and his book deserves to be read. If you’re still on the fence about this, let the flame of the dragons burn that dilemma to ash. The Rage of Dragons is a breathtaking fantasy debut that triggered tons of adrenaline rush in me. I immensely enjoyed reading it and upon completion, I’m seriously in pain over the fact that the sequel isn’t out yet. The second book is now on my priority list of anticipated books. I highly recommend The Rage of Dragons to anyone who loves reading a fast-paced revenge story with great characterizations for the main character. More importantly, if you love reading fantasy with well-written battle scenes, there's a huge chance that this book is for you.

Official release date for the physical copies: July 18, 2019 (UK) and July 16, 2019 (US)

You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Marcos (new) - added it

Marcos Dear Petrik, please stop with all
these awesome reviews of highly desirable books. Can't process this level of excitement.

Best wishes from my bank account and muy schedule. :)


message 2: by Travis (new) - added it

Travis Riddle Learning from you on twitter that the ebook is already available is...well, a mighty temptation. Especially after the glowing review!


message 3: by Roy (new)

Roy Great review Petrik..this one intrigues me


message 4: by Travis (new)

Travis Outstanding Review. I have this one already on my kindle and am looking forward to reading it.


Petrik Marcos wrote: "Dear Petrik, please stop with all
these awesome reviews of highly desirable books. Can't process this level of excitement.

Best wishes from my bank account and muy schedule. :)"


Thank you, Macos! And...... mwahahahahaha! No! :p let's suffer together happily through the amount of books we have to devour in our busy life! xD


Petrik Travis wrote: "Learning from you on twitter that the ebook is already available is...well, a mighty temptation. Especially after the glowing review!"

Thank you, Travis! give it a go. It's a blast! I'm reading your book btw currently :D


Petrik Roy wrote: "Great review Petrik..this one intrigues me"

Thanks, Roy! I thought it was highly entertaining. I hope you'll find it the same!


Petrik Travis wrote: "Outstanding Review. I have this one already on my kindle and am looking forward to reading it."

Thanks, Travis! Woohoo! i hope you'll enjoy it! :D


Andrew Great review! I agree with everything you said. Rage of Dragons is the best book I’ve read in a long time....where it totally engrossed me. I couldn’t put it down or focus on anything else. I rarely reread books. But I’m looking forward to reading RoD later this year. Like you said, the terms used throughout are a little confusing, so I’m hoping knowing them in advance will make the second read better than the first.


Petrik Andrew wrote: "Great review! I agree with everything you said. Rage of Dragons is the best book I’ve read in a long time....where it totally engrossed me. I couldn’t put it down or focus on anything else. I rarel..."

Thank you, Andrew! It was super engrossing. I definitely will reread it one day because like you said, I think after knowing the terms used, the reread experience will be better. :)


message 11: by Shanara (new) - added it

Shanara Bennett We have such similar tastes in books I completely trust your judgment. Just purchased. Can’t wait to get started!


Petrik Shanara wrote: "We have such similar tastes in books I completely trust your judgment. Just purchased. Can’t wait to get started!"

Awesome, Shanara! I hope yoy'll love this one as well! :)


message 13: by Colleen (new) - added it

Colleen This sounds so cool! I love novels that pull from different mythologies! You're really good at picking out good new authors, so I'm sure this is great! :-)


message 14: by TS (new) - added it

TS Chan Fantastic review, Petrik! *Adds to TBR ---- Noooooo, don't topple, puleeez


Petrik Colleen wrote: "This sounds so cool! I love novels that pull from different mythologies! You're really good at picking out good new authors, so I'm sure this is great! :-)"

Hahah same here! I kinda wish I know more about what the author took from the mythology though. I'm very familiar with African lore and stuff, the only thing I noticed that was African inspired was the languages and setting used.


Petrik TS wrote: "Fantastic review, Petrik! *Adds to TBR ---- Noooooo, don't topple, puleeez"

Thank you, TS! Hahahha don't worry, that TBR tower is super strong!


message 17: by Benji (new) - added it

Benji Glaab This sounds really good 👍👍👍 great review


Petrik Benji wrote: "This sounds really good 👍👍👍 great review"

It was super entertaining imo. Thank you, Benji! :D


message 19: by Cendaquenta (new) - added it

Cendaquenta *falls over self in excitement* YES PLEASE.


message 20: by Rinaldo (new)

Rinaldo This book has been in my radar since the author did an AMA in r/fantasy. I'm definitely intrigued by the Zulu and African inspired worldbuilding.

Also agree with that remark about Orbit. They have been on fire with discovering and publishing fresh authors with diverse voice. I guess somebody (or maybe some folks) there deserves a significant pay rise.


Petrik Cendaquenta wrote: "*falls over self in excitement* YES PLEASE."

Woohooo!!! I hope you'll love it, Cendaquenta! :)


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "This book has been in my radar since the author did an AMA in r/fantasy. I'm definitely intrigued by the Zulu and African inspired worldbuilding.

Also agree with that remark about Orbit. They have..."


I'm not an active reddit user (due to it being blocked in Indonesia) but yeah, I was intrigued by Zulu and African world-building too!

You should give this a go, bro. I'm curious on what you think about it. I feel like I failed to grasp most of the subtle African inspiration from it because I have minimum knowledge on the subject. Super agreed regarding Orbit though, they're also the one who keep on signing noteworthy self-published books like this one; give them a raise indeed!!! :D


message 23: by Deborah (new) - added it

Deborah Obida Fab review! I'll give this a try cause you said its a good book. I value your opinion.


Petrik Deborah wrote: "Fab review! I'll give this a try cause you said its a good book. I value your opinion."

Thank you, Deborah! That's really nice of you, thank you for believing in my opinion and book taste! :)


message 25: by Rinaldo (new)

Rinaldo Petrik wrote: "Rinaldo wrote: "This book has been in my radar since the author did an AMA in r/fantasy. I'm definitely intrigued by the Zulu and African inspired worldbuilding.

Also agree with that remark about ..."


r/fantasy is a great community and you can always bypass the block with VPN or some select browsers in android.

Kinda want to wait more books to be released though.... I'm a binge reader and I prefer to marathon a series. I'm bad like that :/


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Rinaldo wrote: "This book has been in my radar since the author did an AMA in r/fantasy. I'm definitely intrigued by the Zulu and African inspired worldbuilding.

Also agree with tha..."


I feel like it's too much of a hassle to do. Plus, I have Goodreads, Twitter, Bookstagram, and Facebook groups to talk about books already, another community would be overkill xD

I totally understand that pain... When I finished Holy Sister a few days ago, I've come to realize that it was the first series I finished reading in three months. I'm drowning in sooooo many incomplete series it's insane. xD


message 27: by Autumn (new)

Autumn Fantastic review Petrik! I agree that this shiny new cover did wonders. Do you think it's an easyish read? I love fantasy but tend to struggle with more epic fantasy.


Petrik Autumn wrote: "Fantastic review Petrik! I agree that this shiny new cover did wonders. Do you think it's an easyish read? I love fantasy but tend to struggle with more epic fantasy."

Thank you, Autumn! Hmmm although the story and the writing was easy to follow, I do think that the terminologies will be harder to follow. Like i said in my review, there were no explicit information on what each word means, so you kinda have to understand every unique terms through context. It became clearer later on in the book, but for the first half I didn't know of what a lot of unique term meant. So... if you're okay with feeling lost on that, I do think this one is worth trying. It's very fun and fast paced imo


MangoLoverReads Sounds really great. Thanks.


Petrik MangoLoverReads wrote: "Sounds really great. Thanks."

You're welcome, Mango! :)


message 31: by Leona (new) - added it

Leona Wow that sounds interesting! Added to TBR


Petrik Leona wrote: "Wow that sounds interesting! Added to TBR"

Awesome!! I hope you'll love it, Rita! 😁


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