Rating: 4 out of 5.

4.5 stars.

Wow. This is a fantastic first book in an exciting new African-inspired epic fantasy series. The book starts off slowly but quickly picks up steam and doesn’t let up. There is a good amount of worldbuilding and plenty of action. Add in good character development and complicated relationships, and you have a winner.

The Omehi people are divided into a caste system based on a person’s birth called Nobles and Lessers. Nobles are privileged and Lessers are not. Traditionally there is no way for a person to change castes. Two hundred years ago the Omehi people left their homeland and settled on another land. They have been at war with the natives of the new land, the Hedeni, ever since. The Omehi’s entire society is centered around war. Some women have magic that can call dragons, others can magically affect men to make them bigger killing machines. Lessers are basically battle fodder, bred to fight and die.

Tau is a young Lesser with no abilities. He isn’t a particularly skilled fighter and has a plan to get injured during his military training so he can sit out the war, get married, and farm the rest of his life. That plan is quickly upended when those closest to him are brutally murdered in front of him. From then on, his plan is to become the best sword fighter in the country and exact revenge on the three men that committed the crime.

The author did a great job of developing Tau. Oftentimes characters that are spurred by revenge become single-minded one dimensional characters, but that is not the case here. Tau is definitely determined, but his character grows throughout the book. Tau has plenty of foils in his training mates, which slowly form a bond and become a cohesive fighting unit. Tau’s romantic relationship is a nice balm to his otherwise harsh character, and shows that he is still capable of other feelings besides revenge.

This is an incredible book. I could not put it down and can’t wait for the next book in the series. As I said earlier, the book starts off slow with a bit of worldbuilding, which is not the easiest to read, but is a necessary evil in any first book of an epic fantasy series. Just give it about 50-60 pages and you won’t be disappointed. Once it takes off, it will leave you breathless until the exciting cliffhanger ending. I highly recommend you pick this book up immediately and start reading!