The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning #2) by Evan Winter
Published by Orbit
Adult, Grim Dark, Epic Fantasy
Publish Date : November, 10th 2020 (US) & November, 12th 2020 (UK)
Desperate to delay an impending attack by the indigenous people of Xidda, Tau and his queen craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all-out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the ‘true’ Queen of the Omehi.
If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne and reunite her people, then the Omehi might have a chance to survive the coming onslaught.
“When we fight, the world burns.”
Trigger Warning : decapitation, mutilation, gore, death, war
ARC provided by the publisher Orbit UK through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The rage within still burns, many are lost, now that the fires of rage subsides a different fire burns as Tau Solarin the Queen’s champion returns continuing his bloody path in The Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winter.
January was a bumpy reading month for me, though I ended the year of 2020 on a strong note by finishing one of my most anticipated reads for a the whole month I could not physically look at a book or an ebook. I was experiencing a real horrible case of fantasy burn out, I slowly picked up my reading pace as the month progressed and I am finally ready to pick up The Fires of Vengeance. Before I start my review, I want to thank Orbit and NetGalley for sending me this ARC (Advance Readers Copy) for me to review. I received this ARC 3 days before the book is released at that moment I have not read the first book.
“Rage is love…twisted in on itself. Rage reaches into the world when we can no longer contain the hurt of being treated as if our life and loves do not matter. Rage, and its consequences, are what we get when the world refuses to change for anything less.”
The Fires of Vengeance is the sequel and second installment to Evan Winter’s amazing debut, The Rage of Dragons, of The Burning series. In this sequel to an already amazing first book, Evan Winter did an absolutely marvelous job writing the continuation of the story. It is rare for sequels to be better than the first book, Evan Winter expanded the foundations laid in the first book. While in The Rage of Dragons the main catalyst for everything is revenge, in The Fires of Vengeance it is still about revenge; but the author also explored grief, forgiveness, love, and companionship. And most importantly is resistance. The Omehi has long since forgotten their history and their true main enemy. This book explores those unanswered questions from the first book, readers will get to explore the world building and the history of the Omehi with the Cull, exploration of Isihogo and its demons, how the Caste system came to be, past queens, and many more.
“Tau. You are enough.”
Tau Solarin has grown a lot as a character, starting the story he was a reluctant low caste man that just wants to get by, fueled with revenge he trained day and night in Isihogo to defy people and to show that people like him are capable in being something more. Now, Tau is chosen to be the Queen’s Champion, becoming the Champion he is given new responsibilities and men to lead. He also has to navigate his way through the court being the Queen’s bodyguard and the ‘icon’ for the people of Omehi. Tau emotionally matures in this sequel, seeing him finally become vulnerable as he sits down and discusses his grief with Tsiora is one of the most touching moment in the book. The contrast in Tau’s personality is astounding to witness. The side characters such as Hadith, Uduak, Themba, Yaw, Jabari, and Kellan Okar; they all also grew with Tau. Jabari and Hadith both stood out for me amongst the others as they become a key part in the story. Jabari definitely defied the impossible and it was nice to see his arc with Tau. How they rekindled their brotherhood after so long apart. The found family aspect is stronger than before, Tau and his sword brothers actively look out and support each other no matter what the circumstances are.
We have the queen, the Gifted, and the army. Nkosi, we have you, and that’s all we need to crush them.
Now, I want to praise something that is a huge improvement from the first book. It is the addition of strong female characters. In The Rage of Dragons, we only met one female character, Zuri, though she is a monumental character in the first book I craved for more female presence in the book. Evan Winter teased Tsiora’s character during the end of the first book and I was so excited to see her action. Wow! Evan Winter did not only write about Tsiora but also Nyah, the Queen’s councilor; Thandi, a gifted woman that works closely with Nyah; Esi, Tsiora’s sister; Hafsa, a healer and the queen’s hand maidens, Auset and Ramia. It just made the story much more exciting and more vibrant. The interaction between Tau and his sword brother’s has with the Queen’s troupe is so much fun to read. I love the banter between Themba has with the hand maidens. Though I love Tau’s POV, one of my favorite moments in the previous book is the unexpected POVs from other characters. Evan Winter treated us to a conclusion of the Dossa saga which ended on a bittersweet note, my emotions could not handle it. The author also offered us perspectives from Esi and Tsiora. Both of whom are critical players in the story. Their chapters were refreshing and impactful to the story at the same time.
“We have faith, faith in the Goddess and in all of you. Do not fear, because we walk in Her light, and in it there is nothing to fear.”
Evan Winter’s writing is addicting, the way Winter paces his stories is truly magnificent and satisfying. The pace of the story and the emotional aspect gradually builds up with each chapter and towards the end it all explodes leaving you shook. It was an effortless experience to jump back into the world Winter has created. Hands down, Evan Winter is a force to be reckoned with, The Fires of Vengeance cemented him as the leading voice in adult SFF. A stand out chapter for me is the first chapter; for readers you will highly appreciate that first chapter, as the author recaps everything that has happened in the first book in a well thought out way. This book is much more bloody and violent, while the previous book the violence is like a constant hum in the story. In this sequel it hits you harder with each blow it gets more gritty, more savage, and of course more bloody. It is an never ending cycle of death, loss, grief, and sorrow. In this cycle Tau is the main player, he leaves trails of death, smashing foe after foe that stands on his path of revenge.
Final thoughts, Evan Winter returned with a vengeance and smashed my expectations with The Fires of Vengeance. It is truly the sequel that triumphs over it’s predecessor, for readers that struggled with the constant battle scenes will truly love this sequel because it included a lot of character growth, amazing battle scenes, new female characters (which is all of the new characters), a stronger sense of found family and amazing characterization. On top of that is the amount of lore dropped by Winter. More people should read The Burning series! When you think the first book is great it gets better. The last time I felt this great about a sequel is after I read Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke. That’s it I’m putting this book on my list of best sequels. Second book syndrome ? Be gone!
“Keep fighting, and I swear that before it consumes us, we’ll burn our pain to ash in the fires of vengeance.”
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.