The Burning, #2: The Fires of Vengeance
By: Evan Winter Audiobook: 15 hours 32 minutes
Published: November 10, 2020 Narrated by: Prentice Onayemi
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Military Fantasy
***WARNING: This review contains some minor spoilers from the previous book in this series.
You have been warned.
You call me a monster because I won’t let you treat me like my life is worthless, a thing to be used and thrown away? it said. You call me a monster because I refuse to live like you think I deserve? If that’s what you mean by monster, watch me be monstrous! (Chapter Fourteen: Mothers).
Whenever a debut novel bursts into the literary community and makes a huge impression on readers, everyone asks the same question: Will the next book be just as good or even better than the 1st book? Regardless of whether or not the debut novel was a standalone or the 1st in a series, the same question gets asked. I’m not going to determine which type renders more pressure for the author. However, I do want to undergo the same reading experience with the author’s next book as I had with the first one. Evan Winter delivers a powerful follow up to The Rage of Dragons with The Fires of Vengeance, the 2nd book in The Burning Series.
Tau Solarin is the protagonist—but not the only one; and, he has trained and has risen to become the Queen’s Champion. However, the war is far from over. The Omehi is divided, and the Xiddeen are about to declare war on them. In addition, Tau still has 1 name left on his list for revenge for his father’s death: Abasi Odili. But first, Tau has to learn about the responsibilities and the expectations of being Queen Tsiora’s Champion—which is more than just fighting. First, he must reassemble his Scale which includes giving new roles to: Hadith, Uduak, Jabari, and a few others from his Scale. Second, he must meet and consult with the Queen’s Council, including: Vizier Nyah, who reminds Tau of his duties to the Queen and to the Omehi. Last, Tau must wait to complete his vendetta against those who’ve wronged him as he assists Queen Tsiora defeat the traitors. Ironically, some of those who’ve wronged the Queen have wronged Tau, too. Even with his new responsibilities, Tau continues to train not only to protect his Queen and his friends, but also to carry out his missives—both his and his Goddess’. Although Tau has grown as both a warrior and a leader, his rage continues to influence his actions. For example, Tau’s actions have consequences, and he is starting to experience those consequences firsthand. Not to mention, Tau realizes he is not the only one who is angry about the conflicts—regardless of social standing—it’s just those individuals mask their rage better than Tau. As Tau continues on the path for vengeance—which is no longer his alone—his allies and his companions let him know he is not alone in his feelings, and he should maintain his rage.
There are 2 plots in this novel, which are the main conflicts within the narrative. First, is the civil war between the Omehi. Queen Tsiora’s sister, Esi, has declared herself as Queen and has control of the capital, Palm City. Esi has the backing of most of the Nobles, including General Abasi Odili, who is her Champion. Second, is the unrest the Omehi continues to have with the Xiddeen, which Queen Tsiora tried to end through peace (by marriage), but failed due to the betrayal within her Council. Both adversaries are immediate threats, but with the Omehi Army being “small,” only one threat can be handled at one time. There are 2 subplots which develop alongside the plots in this novel. The first subplot involves the Omehi’s history, including their connection to Isihogo, their faith in their Goddess, and the impending threat that has been searching for them for 200 years. Tau and his Scale learn how to fight in Isihogo for their advantage, but learn there are downsides to doing so as well. The second subplot follows the continuation of Tau’s quest for revenge. The good news is he’s getting closer to achieving his vengeance against those who are responsible for his father’s death. The bad news is Tau learns how vengeance begets vengeance leaving him to deal with the harsh consequences and realities of his actions and theirs.
Once again, the narrative is presented in 1st person in present time from Tau’s point-of-view in the majority of the book. There are a handful of chapters in which the P.O.V. shifts to other characters. These chapters are just as essential as Tau’s because the audience is able to grasp the extent of ALL of the conflicts and the revelations revealed by other characters. All of the streams-of-consciousness presented in this narrative demonstrates how each individual character handles the same conflicts and the same set of emotions differently. This is NOT to say Tau’s handling of his emotions is healthy, but Tau does handle them better than other characters. All of the P.O.V. characters are reliable narrators.
The style Evan Winter uses in The Fires of Vengeance is a continuation of violence and warfare amongst neighboring factions, which have a long dispute due to differences in culture and social status. Even understanding the origins of these conflicts doesn’t mean the issues will be resolved at all. In addition, the author continues to blend African history, culture and folklore with the fantastical (and dangerous) elements of dragons. The military scenes continues in this book as well, which allows this series to be classified as a military fantasy. The mood in The Fires of Vengeancecontinues to be wrath and warfare. War has erupted and all sides have at least 1 key figure who is fighting this war out of anger. The tone in this novel center on the choices all of the characters make throughout the war. Personal agendas can influence war, but are the consequences worth it when innocent parties are involved? Regardless of which side wins a war, lives are lost on all sides.
The appeal for The Fires of Vengeance have been immensely positive. Fans and readers of The Rage of Dragonshave enjoyed the sequel as much or even more than the first book. For those who have not read this epic military fantasy series yet should know neither the action nor the pacing slows down in this book! Everything from the characters to the world-building to the fight sequences are well-written. I listened to the audiobook edition of this novel; and once again, Prentice Onayemi delivers with his performance of the narrative excellently (please, keep him for the rest of this series)! Even if you struggle with the terminology and the setting in this narrative, then know both the map and the glossary will help readers with these aspects. Fans of The Unbroken, She Who Became the Sun, Red Sister, Knight’s Ransom, and The Poppy War should read this series. I do not recommend you wait too long to begin reading The Burning Series because the next book in the series (NOT the last one)—The Lord of Demons—will be released in the near future.
The Fires of Vengeance is one of the best sequels by an author whose previous book was its debut. Neither the protagonist nor his allies nor his adversaries are new to warfare. They are all seasoned fighters and political players who carry on the war because of their beliefs of the same Goddess. Given everything that happens in this book, the dragons are a bonus! Both the stakes and the emotions are higher this time, and Evan Winter’s characters collide in order to prove their side is the strongest and the most powerful one. And, readers will enjoy every moment of it!
My Rating: MUST READ IT NOW (5 out of 5)!!!