This is another semi-random library pick. I’ve just finished the Fires of Vengeance, book two in the series, but these are really my thoughts on the overall series so far.
“The Burning” is, in many ways, a typical epic fantasy. You’ve got your sprawling world, your naive protagonist, your conflict between different groups, your slowly developing magic, your big fight scenes. However, this one was definitely uniquely compelling to me because of the strength of that worldbuilding.
I didn’t realize that the book was inspired by the author’s Xhosa heritage until I had reached the back jacket! I definitely think this contributed to how unique, fresh, and exciting the worldbuilding felt. It drew from a different set of cultural inspirations than most fantasy, while still preserving those tropes of fantasy I love so much.
The writing is lovely, fast-paced and fresh. I read both volumes in a single sitting, though they’re 500+ pages.
My one complaint is that Tau, the protagonist, is, at times, painfully naive. This is a classic of this genre of fantasy for a reason–he has to know nothing so he can go on his journey of self-discovery, which makes sense! However, at times, this naiveté felt like self-centeredness. He forgets about his surviving family for large swathes of the book, for instance.
The queen, on the other hand, who really comes to the center of book two, is a wonderfully drawn character, and I loved the dynamic between the two of them.
A truly incredible epic fantasy series. I’m counting down the days until the third installment!