Book Review of The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

654 pages

Published: 8/6/19 by Harper Voyager

ISBN: 9780062662637

Genre: Adult fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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*Click on photos to view original source

“In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.”

Trigger warnings: Rape, self-harm, vivid descriptions of the dead (adults and children), drug use, vivid murder scenes, war scenes, PTSD, abortion, human experimentation, sad animal death, loss of a loved one. Just proceed with caution if you pick up this series. It’s pretty dark and brutal.

Wow, this book was one heck of a feat.

If I thought the first book was a lot to handle, this one really turns it up a few notches. It’s very action-packed and fast-paced, yet it’s not at the same time. It felt like it took me eons to finish, and that’s one of the reasons I gave it a lower rating than the first book. I’ll get into my other reasons later. Let’s get into my review.

I guess I’ll start with why I enjoyed this one, and why I’ll be finishing the series. I don’t know how I couldn’t finish this series considering how invested I am after reading 1,000+ pages of it already.

The writing is pretty much the same as the last book. The writing is well done and pretty easy to understand, as I said in my review for the first book in the series. There’s a lot of character development and world building to be had with this one. You may want to take notes if that’ll help you.

My favorite characters ended up being Kitay, Suni and Baji. I will tell you to not fall in love with any characters because Kuang doesn’t care about your feelings, apparently. She really ripped my heart out a few times throughout the novel. Now I see what everyone was talking about. I’ve read this one before and all of it went over my head. I’m happy I paid attention this time around.

It’s not about who you are, it’s about how they see you. And once you’re mud in this country, you’re always mud.

Rin really gave us the run-around with her development. I would be so proud of her one moment and so frustrated with her the next. I can’t believe how much she didn’t see what was happening within the Dragon Republic. Like, did she meet Vaisra? I could tell the moment she spoke to him that he would drag her through mud! Oh, it made me want to throw the book. I can’t tell if I’m going to like Rin by the end of the series. Only time and 640 pages will tell.

Okay, moving on to what really got under my skin with this one.

First off, “Tiger’s tits.”

THAT PHRASE GIVES ME SECONDHAND EMBARRASSMENT. STOP USING IT. I swear it was on every page. Every page. It’s not funny, and it never was. Can we all agree?

There are so many characters introduced in the book that my head was spinning. They were all connected / related / whatever else you can be with another person. I almost gave up. I couldn’t tell who was against who because it would change so quickly. It’s just many pages of back-and-forth between armies, warlords, Gods, etc. I just couldn’t get with it.

What had seemed like an easy victory was about to turn into a bloodbath.

And, for the grand finale that we all saw coming…… was too long. Maybe I’m not used to long fantasy novels since I don’t read them. I’m also in for a rude awakening when I read The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. Like I said, it felt like a lot happened yet nothing at all. I was wishing for it to be over with. I loved the beginning and the end of the book. Let’s just condense the middle and I’ll be a happy camper.

Overall, I think this had middle book syndrome. I think it’s preparing for one heck of a finale. Well, that’s all I can hope for. It may take a bit of a break before jumping into that one, though. I read the first two back-to-back. I will say that I could probably read this series a third time and learn something new each time. That’s another positive that comes from this series. If you can handle the brutality of it, then I say go pick up the first one!

Side note: When Rin is learning how to use the fire inside her, and she hurts Kitay, it reminds me of when Aang hurts Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender when he’s trying to fire bend.

Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and the Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award nominated author of the Poppy War trilogy. She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford; she is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale. Website:

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ARC Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

560 pages

ISBN: 9780062662637

Publication Date: August 6, 2019 by Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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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Weekly Reading Wrap Up (7/8-7/14)

Hello, friends! I haven’t made a weekly reading wrap up in awhile. It hasn’t been too productive of a week as far as what I have finished. I figured I would do this anyway.

Started on 7/8: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

I am 28% of the way through this one. It is a chunk just like the first one. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s entertaining, but it’s not a five star read yet. Thank you to Harper Voyager / Netgalley for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Finished on 7/11: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I definitely enjoyed this one. The pace was perfect, and the book wasn’t too long. It didn’t do anything new, but it was well executed.

Started reading on 7/12: The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

I am 108 pages into this, and I am absolutely loving it. It’s probably going to be a five star read. If not, I’d be surprised. This one actually won the National Jewish Book Award! The writing and story shows just how much work Kadish put into it. It’s amazing!

That’s it for this wrap up. Have you read any of these? If you have, what did you think?

If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog. Be respectful and happy reading! 

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