Book Review: The Fires of Vengeance
Title: Fires of Vengeance Series: The Burning Author: Evan Winter Published: 2020
One of the first book reviews I ever wrote was for Evan Winter’s The Rage of Dragons way back in 2018 before the novel had even been picked up for traditional publishing and back when I was running a totally different brand. I loved it. Winter's world was fantastical and yet driven by realistic, emotional people. It was personal and yet epic in scale.
It’s taken me a while to read the sequel, but I’m safe to say that it lived up to my hype. RoD finished by opening up our story to the wider, grander machinations beyond Tau’s personal journey and The Fires of Vengeance picks up that scale immediately. In what’s more epic fantasy than its predecessor FoV deals with Tau learning his new place in the world. As are his companions who have been dragged along his path of fury.
It results in a story that feels more grown-up than the first novel. Tau's actions have consequences, as do those of his friends. Gone is the “young love” love story and in its place is a deeper connection that shows just how little our protagonist actually knows about love.
Crucially, Tau is still an incredibly flawed individual. He has a thirst for vengeance that makes him cruel and some of the best chapters are those written from the POV of his enemies. But, thankfully, he does develop over the course of the story and it’s rewarding to see how much he has changed since we first met him.
As I expected off the back of the first book the action sequences are written superbly. Winter has a knack for delivering detailed descriptions of warfare that feel enthralling without overburdening the reader. I was concerned that Winter would struggle with action in this novel given the almost overpowered nature of our protagonist at the end of the first story, but this is handled very well in my opinion and it keeps the tension high.
I was also pleased to see that Winter hadn't run out of worldbuilding for us and book 2 had us learning just as much about this magnificent world as the first. It also did a great job of setting up threads that will undoubtedly be picked up on in book 3.
That isn't to say that Book 2 in The Burning is perfect though. I felt that the pacing was a bit slow in the second act and some of the secondary characters from Book 1 didn’t get the development or time on the page that I was hoping for. This is a real shame because there were definitely attempts to give them some shine but it only ever felt surface-level to me. There’s also a revelation made that I thought hindered the themes of Winter’s story rather than aided them. Although that will come down to personal taste.
Overall, I adored book 2 just as I did book 1. I had a blast with The Fires of Vengeance and cannot wait for The Lord of Demons.
Final Rating: 9/10