“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.”
I finished The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter last year and absolutely adored it, but I had a lot going on and never got around to a review. I had to rectify that with The Fires of Vengeance.
This installment picks up where tRoD fell off and wastes no time getting into action. Our main character Tau spent the first book becoming who he is in book 2. He goes from an unblooded child to a gruesome warrior whose name is capable of striking fear in the heart of men. He went from unnoticed, to one of the most famous men in the kingdom. The Fires of Vengeance follows Tau and Queen Tsiora’s journey after loss and betrayal, where friendships are kindled and new enemies are made, where the fight for control is against the people they know too well.
“The lie isn’t that we can’t be their equals. The lie is that they were ever anything but our equals.”
The relationship between Tau and others is spun on its head in this sequel. Tau struggles with working with nobles while still feeling the urge to protect the Queen. You can see why the Queen picked Tau as her champion. He will fight until there’s nothing left of him. He will fight until his body gives up. His convictions are never compromised.
This book celebrates life after death, love after loss. Winter reminds me that even during the worst of times, humans will adapt. They survive. They MORE than survive. They find strength in their relationships. They find happiness in small moments. I think it can be easy to overlook that in a book that is rife with war, but it’s true.
“They said, ‘This matters more than that,’ making it seem as if their edicts sprang from natural law when they were little more than self-serving choices. They wrote the rules in their favor, successes more often than others, and pointed to that as proof of their superiority.”
We get some backstory for the royal line that is told in a captivating way. The way Winter writes, you can almost hear Tsiora’s soft but strong voice pulling us along. I felt like Tsiora really blossomed as a character in this book. She became more than a figurehead. When we get a glimpse into her sister’s mind, we get even more of Tsiora than we were privy to previously. These characters contain multitudes, and like most world leaders, they aren’t perfect. There’s moments that we love them and moments that we can’t believe what they are capable of. Winter is an expert at creating multi-faceted characters, ones that endear you to them even when they have their flaws. Characters that can disturb you while keeping their place in your heart.
I didn’t have the same frantic drive to finish this as I did book 1, but that could be more because of my mood than the book itself. The beginning and the ending had me racing through the page, though. The writing was excellent, the prose enticing, the charater development consistent. If you’re looking for action, this book has it. If you’re looking for relationships, platonic and romantic, this book has it. If you’re looking for dragons, you’re come to the right spot. This series is almost perfect!
I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while because I am a SUCKER, a straight up FOOL for animal companions in novels. This goes back to my elementary school days reading Harry Potter (owls, cats, rats, oh my!). The animals have always mattered SO much to me in books. I am especially partial to wolves, as you will see in the list below. That’s likely because I’ve grown up with dogs. If you want to feel your heart grow ten sizes… while spending the entire novel (or series) in a panic, wondering when the beloved animal might get in a scrape, this a list for you!
We will start with one of the most well-known:
1. George R. R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire: The original wolves in my heart! The direwolves of ASOIAF are what we all care about, right? Pro: there’s enough of them that at least some HAVE to survive *chuckles nervously* Con: there’s enough of them that you’re having constant heart palpitations waiting to see which ones get ticked off on GRRM’s inevitable kill list. I love Ghost so much, I named my dog Ghost and got them tattooed on me. One of my favorite things about the direwolves in these novels are that you can always count on them to come rip out a throat to protect the Starks. You’ll get a jolt of adrenaline reading about them coming in to save the day. You’ll also spend the rest of YOUR LIFE mourning our fallen friends.
“When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”
2. Robin Hobb – Realm of the Elderlings (specifically the books that feature Fitz, starting with The Farseer Trilogy): My number one, my boy, my son… Nighteyes! There’s never been a better doggo. So, a huge part of Robin Hobb’s Fitz books is the Wit bond. This is a bond with ANIMALS. Any animal you can think of, if you’ve got the innate power. For some reason, the townspeople don’t like when people have this bond because they’re LAME AND NO FUN AT PARTIES… er, or something like that. As you imagine, we see quite a few animal bonds in this series but the bond between Nighteyes and Fitz is the best. We can actually hear the thoughts of Nighteyes and he’s snarky, hilarious, and protective. He has also graced my arm because he’s a very good doggo with a rating of 15/10. There’s a bunch of other moments where we will get to see the Wit bond in play, too!
“Come, hunt with me, the invitation whispers in my heart. Leave the pain behind and let your life be your own again. There is a place where all time is now, and the choices are simple and always your own. Wolves have no kings.”
Keeping with the theme of 15/10 very good doggos…
3. John Gwynne – The Faithful and the Fallen: I read this series after I got tattooed or I’d end up being that weird girl with 500 wolves on her arm instead of just two. The Banished Lands of tFatF heavily features wolven, dogs, war horses and talking birds. You can tell Gwynne is an animal lover! A lot of characters have faithful dogs that follow them from home to battle and beyond. Our main character has a wonderful wolven named Storm and a loyal horse named Shield. Some of our characters have strong relationships with birds, too. Craf the Crow is something special, with a lot of heart in a little dude. The animals all help at some point or another with the overall battle. My heart swelled 500 sizes during this series.
“One shall be the Tide, one the Rock in the swirling sea. Before one, storm and shield shall stand; before the other, True-Heart and Black-Heart.”
4. Robert Jordan – The Wheel of Time: Animals aren’t heavily featured in the three books I’ve read so far (I’m working on it, OKAY?) but the wolves in this book definitely help Perrin and friends out of some messy situations. Perrin is all, “oh, I don’t want a wolf bond,” because he’s CRAZY. Just kidding, I actually like Perrin the most and I’m confident he will grow into his wolf pack. By book three, he’s becoming more accepting of it and they’ve helped out in battle. All hail the wolf pack!
“A young wolfhound must meet his first wolf someday, but if the wolf sees him as a puppy, if he acts the puppy, the wolf will surely kill him. The wolfhound must be a wolfhound in the wolf’s eyes even more than in his own, if he is to survive.”
5. Jane Linskold- The Firekeeper Saga: I’m gonna have to give this one another go. Way back when, someone recommended it to me because if my love for Hobb. I enjoyed the first one but got bored with the second. Basically, a girl is left in the woods and ends up being raised by wolves. She is human in form, but she can communicate with the wolves. Eventually, she is brought back into society because she’s somebody to the Royal line and has to be taught to partake in society. Her pack companion, Blind Seer, comes with her for protection. Lots of political intrigue woven in this animal-heavy novel. This is another book where certain people are able to communicate with various types of animals.
“After a day of watching the two-legs interact from within their midst, she was certain that they could talk as well as any wolf. Unlike wolves, however, they mostly used their mouths, a thing she found limiting. How could you tell someone to keep away from your food when your own mouth was full?”
6. Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon: this isn’t as animal-heavy as some of the others but I would hate to not mention Rollo, the wolfhound/wolf mix. Ian and Rollo’s relationship is truly just heartwarming, especially because much of Ian’s story is heartbreaking. Their companionship is a nice reprieve.
“That dog is a wolf, is he not?’
‘Aye, well, mostly.’
A small flash of hazel told him not to quibble.
‘And yet he is thy boon companion, a creature of rare courage and affection, and altogether a worthy being?”
Now we get away from the wolf theme.
6. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman: okay, this whole series!! Daemons, aka animal companions that are literally a part of your soul!!! Yes, please. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful little furry friend to rely on throughout life? One that only dies when you do? When you’re younger, they change shape. As your personality solidifies, so does theirs, and the settle as one animal. This is an oddly dark series and I haven’t finished the last book yet but I LOVE it so far. Pantalaimon is the daemon we get the most of, he first appears as a moth but takes many forms, ranging from ermine, to eagle, to wildcat, and even a dragon at times. We also see quite a bit of Mrs. Coulter’s absolutely terrifying monkey! There’s a whole cast of furry friends (and enemies) in this one.
“But your daemons en’t just nothing now; they’re part of everything. All the atoms that were them, they’ve gone into the air and the wind and the trees and the earth and all the living things. They’ll never vanish.”
7. Red Rising – Pierce Brown: this happens a bit later in the series, but Sophocles!! A fox kept by House Telamanus. He’s over 700 years old after being cloned 21 times and he’s a loyal companion to Kavax. He loves jellybeans and Kavax trusts his judgement. If Sophocles finds jellybeans on someone, they’re immediately in with Kavax. Sophocles is a fierce protector when he doesn’t trust someone. He will also poop in your room if you give him licorice flavored jellybeans, as an admonishment. Sophocles is a sign of what fun you can have in Brown’s world, even though it is predominately brutal and murderous. Let us not talk about what happens to the wolves in this series, though. *winces*
“Grape! It is a sign. A sign! Sophocles has given Lyria his blessing. There is magic yet left in the world, and Sophocles has found it.”
8. Spellslinger – Sebastien De Castell: I am ashamed to say that I haven’t read De Castell yet, but I WAS told that there is a murderous squirrel cat named Reichis. I’ve done some digging and he is a witty, talking animal companion to a guy named Kellen. It also seems like he enjoys butter biscuits quite plentifully throughout the novels. This series is sure to be a magical ride with a deranged, thieving squirrel cat and I must say, this is a huge selling point for me.
“Eventually Reichis asked, ‘You know why this is such a stupid idea?’ ‘You said that already. Like, twelve times.’ ‘Yeah, but do you know WHY it’s a stupid idea?’ I stopped. ‘Why?’ Reichis shivered on my shoulder. ‘Because this place is giving me the creeps, and I’m a squirrel cat – normally we’re the ones giving other people the creeps.”
9. Nevernight – Jay Kristoff: Shadow Daemons aka not-cats and not-dogs. Specifically Mr. Kindly and Eclipse. I still have Nevernight sitting on my shelf but these seem to be protectors of our main character(s). As the name suggests, they are animals made up of shadows. I believe Eclipse is actually a wolf from the digging I’ve done. These animals are known to cater to Darkins to help devour their fears.
“Before I found you, I was just a shape waiting in the shadows.”
10. The Old Kingdom Series – Garth Nix: I’ve heard about Mogget the Cat, a being enslaved and forced to take different forms, settling into a cat for the long haul. He’s cantankerous, murderous, with a streak of good in him. There’s also The Disreputable Dog, another being trapped in a physical form. She’s known to modify her form to fly, read, and cross over into Death with her companion, Lireal. I don’t know much about this series but I am pretty intrigued by the little I have heard. It seems complex with heavy world building, and best of all, ANIMALS.
“Life,” said Yrael, who was more Mogget than it ever knew. “Fish and fowl, warm sun and shady trees, the field mice in the wheat, under the cool light of the moon.”
Some honorable mentions that I don’t know enough about or couldn’t find much info regarding the animals, but my friends on Twitter have mentioned:
• Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow: (witches and familiars)
•Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey: (referred to as having a whole zoo of animals)
•Hiero’s Journey by Sterling Lanier: (moose and mind-reading bear)
•The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart: (talking animal companions)
•The Winnowing Flame by Jen Williams: (war beasts)
If you know anything about the books I haven’t read and want to let me know how awesome they are, please feel free! I want to know about ALLLLL the animals companion reads.
•If you’re looking for dragons, Alex from Spells and Spaceships has an extensive list! Just click Here
•If you’d like some more animal recs, head over to The Fantasy Hive and check out their post by clicking Here
“Death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain. So many duties.”
Here I am, slowly chugging along in The Wheel of Time with my friends Ambrine and Nahid. I just finished The Great Hunt and I enjoyed it a lot more than book one. Speaking of chugging, a drinking game for every time you hear “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills” or any close variant of it would definitely get you a bit toasty. Jordan is a fan of repetition, if nothing else.
The Great Hunt kept a good pace throughout the whole book, unlike Eye of the World, where pacing was slow and the journey between all of these characters dragged for ages. I still maintain that Rand is about the least exciting character in the bunch, but maybe that will change. Like… if he wasn’t the Chosen One, I would probably not care about him at all. Perrin’s got the badass wolf bond, Loial has those charismatic ears that convey his emotions, Mat is full of fire, Nynaeve is a badass, Elayne is strong royalty, Min sees future paths. I don’t really have anything specific to say about Egwene, but I did enjoy her arc in this novel, it provided a bit of nail-biting conflict. Rand is supposed to be super powerful but he’s kind of just BLAND in personality. Maybe that will change. Towards the end of the novel, I started warming to him a bit, so there’s still hope.
Honestly, I loved the girls’ storylines throughout this. I mean, the first half of the book kept a decent pace, but the second half really soared for me. For the first time, I found myself eager to return to this series. I liked seeing their Aes Sedai training, though I know some other readers loathed that. Seeing the process of damane being forcefully created was super interesting, as well.
“The best of men are not much better than housebroken.” Nynaeve paused, and added half to herself, “But then, the best of them are worth the trouble of housebreaking.”
I feel like I’m finally starting to get a hang of what everything is. Aes Sedai and their rankings, Forsaken, Dark Friends, Ogier, Trollocs, etc. The world the Jordan built is really intensive and it takes a while to navigate the characters and regions but it becomes immensely enjoyable once you do. I’ve found that I don’t quite care for the dry tone of classic fantasy in the likes of Tolkien, but this bridge between classic fantasy and modern fantasy that Jordan seems to provide in the second book is more my style. The first book felt more info-dumpy and dragged, where this book felt like it started advancing the plot and characterization. I would agree with the sentiment that Eye of the World felt like Jordan was trying to be like other successful fantasy authors, The Great Hunt is where he starts being himself.
I am actually pretty excited to move forward! I think the slow pacing of one every month or so, in addition to other reads, will keep me from burning out on this series. I would give The Great Hunt a 4/5 stars!
“There is one rule, above all others, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet. Now, are you ready?”