Rin’s story continues in this acclaimed sequel to The Poppy War—an epic fantasy combining the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters.
The war is over.
The war has just begun.
Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix—the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.
Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.
But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.
Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.
Kuang brings brilliance to this invigorating and complex military fantasy sequel to The Poppy War. Soon after the Third Poppy War ends, Rin and the Cike are captured by the Dragon Warlord, Yin Vaisra, who instructs Rin to destroy Empress Su Daji and unite the empire under one republic. As their assassination plans commence, Daji seals Rin's power and escapes, while the Warlord's negotiations force Southern warlords, such as Vaisra, to leave the Empire. Vaisra starts his campaign to unify the provinces first by starving the North and then by sending soldiers to occupy Northern cities. As the campaign continues, the Republic comes across the powerful shaman Feylen, who's been sent by Daji to destroy their ships. Rin and her command are the only survivors, and they know a big battle is just around the corner. Using events from 20th-century Chinese history, Kuang builds an enthralling military fantasy brimming with betrayal and bloodshed. Each battle scene is prefaced by detailed planning stages that only heighten anticipation and help to create a realistic and well-composed world. Focusing less on Rin's personal issues and more on war and intrigue, Kuang keeps series fans riveted.
When I first started the Poppy War trilogy I loved everything about Rin. Her passion, her stubbornness and daring. When she didn’t back down from anyone or feel ashamed for being not the right color or poor. That she felt resentment, gave into anger and fight take the high road. She felt so human. Too many characters are all goodness personified, self-righteous or about taking the high road or doing whatever right. They felt unreal and not relatable. Then the second book came. Rin became too hard and less human. I still loved the character but after her reunion with her foster brother I started looking at her differently. Some empathy and love for him didn’t manifest. Leaving him in the refugee camp and not trying to ask for him to at least be given a job or enlist him as a soldier. At least something you would do if you truly ever cared for someone that was starving or without resources. Now Rin flaws I loved make me look at her not in such a good light. In the end she was back on my good side. I saw the betrayal coming miles away. I never trusted that person. Or maybe I’ve read too many thrillers and mysteries not to have seen this.
The series started off with a bang: great world building, great characters. But by the third novel it seemed that the author didn’t know what she wanted to do with the story, with lots of seemingly random twists and turns, leading to an ending that seemed almost an afterthought. Furthermore, the novels descended deeper and deeper into gratuitous cruelty.
Too much back and forth, too much aimlessness, too little coherence. But I finished all three; there’s plenty of talent here.