The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang
Publication Date: August 6, 2019 by Harper Voyager
Thank you to Harper Voyager / Netgalley for allowing me to read a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Rin is back focusing on what she had done to end the third Poppy War. She’s still addicted to opium. It affects her performance and it becomes a problem. She also has the pressure of her god, the Phoenix. The sole reason she keeps herself alive is to seek revenge on the Empress who sold the Nikan to their enemy.
Rin wants to create a new Republic, and she will go through anything to do so. She even works with the Dragon Warlord to conquer Nikan. She wants that dream so bad that she throws herself into the Warlord’s war. She experiences all this as part of the Cike.
Of course, the Dragon Warlord’s motivations aren’t what they seem. The Empress is a lot stronger than anticipated, and Rin finds herself relying on the Phoenix more than she should. She will go to devastating extremes to create this new life for the Nikan.
Characters | I’m going to be honest and say that I didn’t care for any of the characters. It is surprising because you learn so much about all of them. If there is any book in this series that can help me connect with the characters in this world, it should be this one, right?
Rin was out of control. She didn’t think about the consequences of anything. Yes, she had the pressure of the Phoenix, but she doesn’t have that the entire time. She is so temperamental, and it reminds me of a young adult fantasy main character. She is extremely angst-y. I never find myself rooting for her.
Suni was actually my favorite out of everyone. He was so sweet to Rin even though she was a total brat. I wish I had a finished copy so I could give you some quotes from him! Suni had been a student at Sinegard, and was expelled when things went wrong. Despite all of that he was a gentleman.
Nezha had no backbone. Anytime Rin would confront him he would back down and apologize. I would give the sass right back to Rin, just like Chaghan did.
They had a lot of backstory, but they lacked raw emotion. They lacked anything that allowed you to connect and relate. They were, however, very entertaining to read about. That much is true.
Plot | The plot honestly confused me a little bit the further I trekked into the story. I don’t read a ton of fantasy, so that issue could be on me. I just couldn’t understand exactly where they were at any given time. This is why I write notes, but apparently it doesn’t help at all.
It’s very easy to understand the motivation of the story. Kuang makes that very clear, which I am appreciative of!
The beginning scenes were the best part of the novel, in my opinion. It’s very clear and concise. There is a specific scene where Rin is taken over by the Phoenix in the beginning that I thought was well done. I really enjoyed reading about it. As the story progressed I just lost all interest in what was happening. I enjoyed that even though it was a fantasy novel, the characters couldn’t stand being on a ship for long periods of time.
I think I go into fantasy novels expecting a deeper, thought provoking plot. I read too much literary / contemporary fiction. It seems to have become an issue.
Writing | I think that Kuang always shows so much promise. She writes fantasy tomes that readers can immerse themselves in. I just find that the writing drags after 40% of the novel. I wonder what else she would write outside of The Poppy War. I think that she could have tightened it up a little bit. Cut out some of the parts that didn’t need to be in the story.
Overall | This wasn’t a bad novel at all. It was entertaining, and the writing was solid. I just wanted it to be shorter and the writing could be compressed. I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the series. I’m assuming there’s another one. I would like to see where it is even going, but at the same time I don’t want to find myself a year from now writing another middle of the road review for it. I would hope things would change, but so many people adore this series. I don’t want to bring people down.
Would I recommend it? Sure. Take my opinions with a grain of salt. I’m sure this is a fantastic fantasy series. I haven’t read fantasy a ton. Would I buy or reread this? No, sorry.
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