Quick Take: If you love RTS/ARPG games give this book a shot. It might let you scratch that itch while you recharge your switch.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter received lots of praise for the African influences and unique magic systems in this debut novel. Out of everything I read, this really throws the reader into the thick of battle from the word “Go”. I couldn’t help but make comparisons to video games, specifically real time strategy and action RPG. I think the easiest way to give my impressions without spoiling anything is to frame it in terms of those games.
Setting up bases and command stations after arriving on a ship is a tenant of real time strategy games. Colonize the planet and exterminate the locals. This was more common back with 90s and early 2000s RPGs like Westwood Studio’s Dune, Cavedog’s Total Annihilation and Blizzard’s StarCraft or WarCraft series. The book feels like starting one of those games. Unknown shores, defend the towers! Flank the enemy! Retreat to the rear command center!
There are hero units too, just like one of those games. They have special powers and are stronger than normal units. It’s that risk reward of sending your most powerful units in to turn a battle. If they die, it’s game over but leaving them in the command post isn’t really an option either when the enemy deploys their elite squads.
The magic system feels more like something out of StarCraft or Diablo 3. I can see why fantasy readers would find this unique and interesting. Me being the crazy pattern recognizing person I am read it and thought “oh right, archon mechanics.”
Archons are beings of psionic power and rage, and their presence on the battlefield inspires much fear in their foes. The creation of an archon is a serious affair and is never made lightly, for it requires the reluctant sacrifice of valuable Templar for a short-term gain. Archons radiate energy like stars and burn out when depleted, and only last for a brief time.
In StarCraft two units called Templars merge into one super powerful Archon. The book isn’t exactly like this, but saying more about it would be a spoiler.
I could go on and on about similar spells. The African theme was explored in games by the Diablo 3 Witch Doctor class (which seems a little problematic especially since Blizzard isn’t the golden goose it once was.) I wonder if this author was influenced by ARPG/RTS games or if I’m way off base.