Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Vomiting, gore, blood, body horror, incineration, death of a parent
It took a whole bunch of self-control to not immediately dive into book 2 of the exceedingly epic The Burning series.
Anyway, this book picks up immediately after the first book ends. Tau finds himself at the queen’s side, getting more and more involved in strategy and politics as they prepare to take back the capital from a traitor while also preparing to clash swords with the Xidda. This book is so fast-paced, even more so than The Rage of Dragons. Queen Tsiora wasn’t really a presence in the previous book, but wow, does she shine in the sequel. She and her mostly female advisors had such depth, and Winter takes great care in highlighting all kinds of strength, not just physical brutality.
If you want huge dragon battles, dragons, complex female characters, and multiple moments that make you almost scream “Holy shit,” just keep reading The Burning.
Tau continues to be fantastic as a protagonist. He’s still angry with a physical strength that can literally take down demons. But I think he mellows out in that way where he gains so much perspective. He’s also put in his place by his own restraint. Throughout this book, he grows exponentially. Strength, murder, and revenge aren’t the solutions to his problems. And it’s nice that he finds other things to live and fight for. Plus, we get to meet his mother, and we definitely see where he gets it from.
The volume of incredible women in this sequel adds complexity. Some of them are Gifted, others are wise. My personal favorite was the healer. The development of all these relationships, including the struggles and tensions at a macro level, are superb here. It’s not just Tau having to navigate court, but also his fellow soldiers. In addition, court has to work with them. The political structure has layers on layers on layers. It’s not just about being Gifted or being noble. There’s some humor in it, but mostly just stress and tension pulled off incredibly.
At the end of each mini-arc, this book definitely rides the ebb and flow of actions having consequences. Several things happen at the end of the book that are dealt with to varying degrees of success. Some of those solutions cause more problems.
I understand that books take time and the world is what it is, but wow was it rude for this audiobook to end. I cannot wait to see what comes next, especially with the fraught note this volume ends on.