Book Review: The Fires of Vengeance

First Edition Cover, Orbit Books

Note: The Fires of Vengeance is book 2 of The Burning trilogy by Evan Winter. If you have never heard of this series, may I recommend starting at book 1, The Rage of Dragons?

Reading begets reading. The more you read, the more you discover awesome authors whose books you want to read more and more. Expect a fair number of sequels in this space in 2022 as I strive to finish the amazing series I’ve fallen in love with over the past couple of years.

As I discussed in the intro to The Deaths of Tao, sequels can go a number of different directions: deepen the emotions, ramp up the action, raise the stakes. The Fires of Vengeance does all three. Let’s talk about it.

The Basics:

Title: The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning: Book 2)
Author: Evan Winter
Genre: Epic Fantasy, action, adventure, intrigue
Published: Orbit books, 2021

Spoiler-Free Summary:

At the end of The Rage of Dragons, we found Tau in a tenuous position in more ways than one. His fiery personal quest to avenge his father has stalled. His military training cut short by a sudden escalation of the unending war between the Omehi and the Xiddeen. The top it all off, Queen Tsiora named him her personal Champion: bodyguard and leader of her military forces.

Detail from The Common of Kerem, art by Drak on Deviantart

Tau knows one thing well: how to swing a sword. He has sacrificed his humanity to be the best in the world at killing. He fears nothing. Nothing, that is, except for a council of nobles and dignitaries. Tau is far out of his depth attempting to navigate the political climate of The Chosen in a time when the stakes could not be higher. The Xiddeen have squashed their infighting and invade from two fronts. Queen Tsiora’s unconventional views and promise to shake up the caste system sparks a rebellion among the nobles led by her own sister and her advisor/lover Odili, who happens to be Tau’s father’s murderer. Tsiora and Tau’s forces cannot fight two wars. The pressure is on to unite their people with words or steel before the enemies at their gate destroy them all.

Oh, and did I mention that Tau sees demons in the real world now?

Why This Book Is For You:

If you haven’t read the first book and still have not read about The Rage of Dragons, why not? There is a link right at the top of this review. If you like that, you’ll love this, but, alas, that is reductive.

Very different Tau fan art from artist Lacey Simpson

If the summary implies that this sequel is heavy on exposition and intrigue, please know that while that content does increase compared to book 1 (an inevitable change, and not a bad thing), The Fires of Vengeance is still absolutely jam-packed with action, in both the real world and the underworld. Tau and his shield-brothers beat back a Xiddeen invasion, slay demons, satisfy personal grudges, and lay siege to the strongest city in their kingdom. Despite its length, the concentrated action drives the pace forward.

If you left Rage wanting to know more about the deep history of the Omehi, their flight from their original home, and their war with mysterious magical or extraplanar beings, Fires will not disappoint you. Winter is still the master of sprinkling in backstory and worldbuilding just when it’s needed. It’s a delicate and deft balancing act.

Although most of Winter’s prose is a clear and concise window into the story, moments of absolute poetic beauty do shine through.

I hope you can tell that I love this series. I cannot recommend it enough.

Where Can You Learn More?

As always, check out Evan Winter’s Amazon Author page or the series profile on Goodreads. There is a nifty trailer over on Goodreads that’s worth checking out. You can always hop straight to the horse’s mouth at the author’s website.

Happy reading, and, if it applies to you, happy writing.

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