The Dragon Republic – RF Kuang

“‘Come on,’ Mingzha begged.”

Picking up with events from the opening book, The Poppy War, usual reminder that just mentioning characters that appear in a sequel might be considered a spoiler for book one so read on at your discretion!

Rin is on the run, following the horrific events of the previous book and what will be called the Third Poppy War. She’s still struggling with her shamanistic link to the cruel Phoenix god, and desperately missing some of her former colleagues and friends. Her main goal becomes revenge, particularly against the Empress, without whom the terrible deeds Rin committed might not have been necessary. So when she is approached – or more like cornered – by the Dragon Warlord with a proposal, she finds herself joining forces more through need than want.

But as Rin discovers more about the Empress and her past, she also uncovers more about her own powers. As she is forced to examine her motives, the question becomes, how much further will she be willing to take matters?

I have to admit that I struggled with this book, as the extended reading time (below) probably shows. It wasn’t that it was bad at all – it’s well written, and only has a little ‘middle book’ syndrome going on. However, it’s kind of bleak: all war and suffering and things going wrong. And this maybe just wasn’t the year for that. The first book surprised me a little by being darker and more brutal than I was expecting, and this doesn’t let up. So yeah, I put it down and read other things. But I’m glad I came back eventually, and I gobbled up the last few chapters in a huge gulp. I am looking forward to the final instalment of the trilogy, too! But fair warning: this isn’t chirpy or perhaps the escapism I wanted from a fantasy read at this moment in time. It’s still very well written, so it was an odd pleasure to read such well placed words even as I found the darkness hard to take.

Kindle: 663 pages / 37 chapters
First published: 2019
Series: The Poppy War book 2 (of 3)
Read from 28th October – 30th December 2020 (yes, I’m playing long-catch up on the reviewing!)

My rating: 6/10 – it deserves better, but it was the wrong time for this book, perhaps

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