The Dragon Republic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

The Dragon Republic is an amazing sequel to The Poppy War, which is one of my favorite books that I have ever read. The sequel was intense and engaging and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. R. F. Kuang is an incredible writer and is a master at keeping you turning the pages while simultaneously being unsure if you can continue in the best way possible. I would absolutely read any and everything from this author in the future!
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Shout out to NetGalley for an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t like how the previous book in this series, The Poppy War ended. I felt like that book had a hard time swapping between it’s combat scenes and it’s normal scenes and as such the flow of the book itself suffered. This unfortunately feels like it’s repeated with The Dragon Republic.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, but the transitions between the various combat scenes combined with the occasionally curious pacing forced me to drop this title down lower than I would have thought before starting. The book is by and large a somewhat traditional (if slightly fantastical) military epic. People fighting for what they believe in to the point that it starts to destroy or damage the entire country, political intrigue, relatively common stuff. Suddenly however the book shifts deep into the full fantasy side of things with how Rin comes to terms with her powers and the gods that power them. By the end of the book I felt like I had read two separate books.

Despite this however, it’s a good book, a quality read for anyone a fan of the kind of fantasy or martial arts that this book spends much of it’s time focusing on. I believe R.F. Kuang has definitely improved with this book and I look forward to what comes later down the line. There’s still a huge potential here for a masterful closing of this story. We’ll just have to wait and see where the next book takes us.
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This book does not follow the middle book syndrome by any means. It can hold its own and it took me on new adventures that I didn't even know I wanted to go on. The characters are taken to a new level of depth and the arc for Rin is by and far not repetitive. I love the development of characters as a whole especially Rin. We see her as a little girl trying to prove herself in the first book and now we see her as someone grown trying to find and understand her place in the world.
This book does the same thing as the first one where it makes you want more and it leaves you wanting to learn more about the real Chinese history and finding out where the inspiration came from. We are introduced to a new group of people who are a natural addition to story (not necessarily for happy reasons). 
I am most grateful for the tactfulness that R.F. Kuang demonstrates when she writes about the brutal and dark parts of war. Sure, there is camaraderie which she does wonderfully but most importantly she does not gloss over the horrors of war. Neither does she dwell on it and take away from the rest of the story. She found that nice balance that allows readers to face the injustices and walk away wanting to act rather than wallow. She creates an empowerment that is not easy to do in literature with such content.
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This is a sequel to The much loved The Poppy War and book two does not disappoint! Fans of her first book will be hooked from page one since it picks up right after book one ends. This book has a similar working style sans the YA writing displayed in the first half of the Poppy War. 

Rin continues to discover her powers and the powers from above. There is death, war and everything in between but I enjoyed every moment of it. The ending left me with my mouth open just like fantasies should. High recommend.

Thankyou for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Title: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy Wars #2)
Author: R.F. Khang
Pages: A thousand (560)
Genre: Fantasy, Politics (?), New Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is an Advanced Readers Copy. That means that this is not the final version of the book. Therefore, facts and quotes are subject to change in the published book.

Release date: Out Now

This is the second book in the series. Please click here for the first book.

After everything that happened in the first, we now follow Rin and the Cike as they work toward their goal of killing the empress. But nothing will go as planned when old classmates begin to show up and Rin is dragged back into another war. This time, what side is she really on?

Oh No's

Rin is a selfish little prick she literally abandoned the Cike to the point where they're not even mention anymore but there literally in the same army as her like she literally just gives up on her friends and just move on without them because now she feels powerless but she replaces them for two other new people and I think that's disgusting

Word and caution thrown to the wind this book is just as long if not longer than the first book prepare. This book did not need to be so long nor was there a real reason to continue the series into a trilogy.

Yay's

If you have any interest in politics in the creation of politics within the world this is where you need to be although I really wish there was a map that would make this a lot more understandable perhaps there is a map but I do have the e-book version so I do not physically see a map but the politics that occur within this novel is severely thought out and it's a literally a war and it's crazy

The world building in this book is phenomenal. We see a lot of the previous characters come back and we are able to follow everyone and how they changed from the first book. Character development is definitely A+.

Finally,

Honestly even though I was bored to death I really loved the way that the characters were written. How they communicated with each other really kept the story alive for me. If you enjoyed the first I definitely recommending moving on to book two.

My similar recommendation for this novel would be Shadowscale (Book #2 of Seraphina) by-www.

Favorite Quote

"'What the fuck do I do with this?' Rin held up a loose rectangle of cloth.

'Calm down. It's a shawl, you drape it just under your shoulders.'"

-90%

│Goodreads│Twitter│Instagram│Previous Post│

-PM
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I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Content notes for the book: Bodily, emotional, and mental trauma; sexual assault; religious bullshit to justify bad shit; opioid addiction; extreme and graphic war-based violence; anything that was mentioned for book 1

I. CANNOT. WITH. THIS. BOOK. Please note this review will contain major spoilers for The Poppy War, which cannot be helped.

If I thought I loved book 1, I was not prepared for how much I love book 2. From a craft standpoint, it soars far beyond TPW; the prose is tighter, cleaner; the worldbuilding is fabulous and expansive; the connection to actual Chinese history much clearer. This book, people. THIS. BOOK.

While I usually prefer stand-alones even in a trilogy, book 2 is a masterful example of what a middle book can do. In terms of what actually happens, the answer is "not much" and "everything." I took so long to read this because of the semester but not because each page wasn't a page turner.

Characters: I learned *so much* about who Rin was as a human being in this book. I know people wave her around as an Azula-like figure but deep at her core, Rin both fundamentally wants to do the right thing and is ambitious, vengeful, and *human*. She grows SO MUCH in this book, and I would die for her.

And I would die for Nezha, who also shows incredible, remarkable growth, and SPOILER: I swear to God if I don't get my enemies to friends to enemies to lovers in book 3 I'm gonna SCREAM MY FREAKING HEAD OFF AND THROW SOMETHING, I SHIP THESE TWO SO FREAKING HARD THERE IS SO MUCH DAMN CHEMISTRY AND LOVE THERE.

And I would die for Kitay, SPOILER: and I'm a sucker for a good "now we are bonded FOREVER but no actually because magic" trope, and the fact that Rin says she loves him MAKES MY COLD HEART SWELL, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, SDF:KLHSD:FDSJFHDSF

Man, all the characters are so good and interesting, and we learn so much about the reason the world is as it is.

Themes: So I actually was reading this book in detail to see how Rin's trauma develops and evolves (for my own writing/comprehensive exams) and oooh man, this is so interesting. Rin re-experiences trauma she's never experienced herself, re the Speerlies; she re-experiences her destruction of the island; she uses her addiction to cope, and when she's "no longer" addicted, there's a fascinating shift towards disability. I'm so interested in seeing where this goes.

Hmm, what else. Really, this whole book is a delight. I love the Cike, SPOILER: and their end is goddamn tragic. I love Rin and Nezha and Kitay, as stated before. I love the exploration of what it might mean to rule a country, and how. I love the complexities of war and each side. I love that Rin's past comes back in a very visceral way, SPOILER: and I mean literally, with her foster family appearing in the capital. It was an interesting "what she left behind" moment. I love that we basically get a pirate queen character. I love that I read a book that made me feel things on every page.

Not a coherent review? You're right. I have no coherence when it comes to this book. Please read it and see for yourself.
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After reading The Poppy War I really couldn't wait to read this book, but man I wasn't expecting this whole mess of a book.  That's all I can call it.  Do I still like it? Heck yes I did.  First of all, that magic system in this world is nothing like we have ever seem and it keeps getting better, last book the magic blew my mind, but in this one?  It was another level, we got to see a lot more of it and a lot more different magic for sure.  I freaking love it. 

And one of the other things that keeps bringing me back to this world is the war and fighting scenes.  No, I don't like war in real life, 100% against it, wish it didn't exist!!! But in this book and world, man, the way they plan it and discuss it? And the whole thing happening, it keeps me in the edge of my seat, literally jumping.  I for sure would not know who to even start writing something like that...so well written.

World building, that's another well written part in this book, every time the characters are moving from one place to another the descriptions are amazingly written, I always feel like I can image how everything is, even the broken down places and ruins.  SO good.

Characters, I really think Kuang does an amazing job with her characters, so much so that I have fallen in love not with Rin but others.  Is it bad that I felt like she was driving me crazy in this book, for most part she was only thinking of herself first than anyone else or anything else and what the heck, that drove me crazy.  Where is the Rin from the first book, the one I fell in love with?  I wanted that little girl that fought and fought to be on top and fight for everyone else.  She was lost in this book and I sure hope she finds herself in the next one.  And that she realizes there are others that cares about her and she needs to care for them too.

Alright, I'm not giving anything away, why?  Because this is the second book of a fantasy series and you need to read the first book, first of all and second when it comes to fantasy you really can't ruin and book, you need to dive in and just discover it all yourself.
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This series is so good. Everything is great, from the magic system to the character development. The world is just getting more complex and intricate. I am very excited to see what the author will do with the next one.
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The Dragon Republic was one of my most anticipated 2019 releases, as the Poppy War was magnificent. Kuang builds strongly off the immense and lush world created within the Poppy War. I appreciated the new depths the Dragon Republic reached, and how it explored Rin's struggles with her dark power and addiction. The stakes were higher, and the consequences as well. I think The Dragon Republic did a great job expanding on the themes explored in the first book - the horrors of war, found family, and addiction. All in all, a great book!
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This is amazing book that you will want to devour as much as book one the poppy war. The author unspools tis novels plot slowly, and never passes up the chance to make it tenser.  The action is furious, bloody, unrelenting but is delivered extremely well.  The monsters in this novels are familiar as it contains some of the darkest parts of china history.  The dragon republic should doubtless prove to be a sizzling success.  I am dying for book 3 next year.
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I really enjoyed a great many things about this book. Characters were fleshed out and the plot was well spaced. Some of the secondary storylines could've used a bit more page space but all in all an enjoyable read!
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What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said?  I'm absolutely living for every parallel to Titus Andronicus I can find because I'm That Shakespeare Freak who likes analysing the hell out of that play.  

But I'm also living for the parallel between Rin and Nezha - the morality behind what we should do when gifted with immense power.  Rin's been beaten bloody by hers, had the responsibility of entire civilizations on her shoulders because of hers, and has been told over and over that she doesn't have the luxury of being impartial.  

Nezha, on the other hand, has been beaten down in a way that others can't see.  He shoves his powers and pain into a bottle to hold into his chest until he dies.  (Fuck yeah John Mulaney reference.)  And not because he sees how powers like this affect Rin - because he does see it, sees the internal struggle that's going to haunt her until she dies - but because he doesn't want to lose the rest of himself into them.  He doesn't want to just become another shaman, to be used as a pawn in someone else's war.  He wants to fight, and do it on his own terms, knowing that by keeping himself weak in that aspect he can still retain his agency.

I'm excited to see where book 3 goes.  Beyond excited, even.
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Unfortunately I had to DNF this book around 30% of the way through. The writing was just as good as the first book, but I was struggling to stay engaged and I decided I could not stick through the lengthy tome all the way to the end. It was trending towards a 3-star review so I will rate it as such.
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I was provided with an ARC of this title from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Biggest takeaway for me? Rin is a character I can like again. By the conclusion of The Poppy War I detested her for her callous self-absorption. Rin is a completely different heroine in The Dragon Republic. Her self-absorption is still there - but it's overshadowed by her courage and sacrifice. Rin's power tore a gaping hole in the world that she's determined to seal or purge. 

Insidious, manipulative alliances and catastrophic revelations about the core motivations of characters I thought I had deciphered lured me into a starless vortex. By the end of the book I wasn't even trying to steer. I was just aimless, helmless and teetering on the edge of the precipice.

I cannot wait for Book Three!
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The Dragon Republic was another one of my more highly anticipated sequels of the year and while it was a good story, it just didn’t rock my socks the way the first book did. The Poppy War kind of checked all my “boxes” – it had a school setting, a coming of age/growing into your own theme, plenty of action and magic, and dang, it went full on grimdark in the latter half. In short, I loved it. The Dragon Republic picks up not long after those events and Rin is really struggling with the death of Altan, her new role as leader of the Cike, and a crippling opium addiction. Oh yeah, she’s also an enemy of the state and the Empress would love to have her head on a pike. 

Rin is honestly a bit of a deplorable character this time around. She has so many weaknesses, she won’t step up to the plate and truly lead the Cike, and they’re just sort of adrift with a vague suicide mission in mind. I do appreciate the fact that the author went a different direction than many others and gave Rin these weaknesses she has to deal with rather than being a total awesome-at-everything Mary Sue. Rin isn’t really a likable character either and she’s trying to drive wedges into every relationship she has and spends most of the book trying to find someone who will tell her what to do and take responsibility for the brunt of her actions. In this respect it’s pretty unique in the fantasy genre. Surprisingly, despite all this her friends are still there for her and are trying to drag her out of the mire of her own making.

The plot this time around was still good, though it didn’t capture me the way The Poppy War did. As I mentioned, so much of the story focuses on Rin getting her act together (a semblance of togetherness anyway) and finding a new person to tell her what to do. This leads her to the Dragon Warlord Vaisra who has designs on creating democracy (OR DOES HE??) but he’s forged a perilous alliance with the Hesperians to accomplish his goals. Things remain quite dark in this installment, as the provinces are now at war amongst themselves and against the Mughanese soldiers that still wander about. There are some really fantastic battle scenes with lots of main characters in peril! SO THRILLING.

Overall, like, I know deep down on an intellectual level this was a really good book – well written, a poignant examination of Rin’s inner turmoil and all that, but I still didn’t love it, hence my rating. I would recommend the audiobook version because the performance was excellent, though it did take me a little longer to get through the book than it would have if I had read the physical copy since I can only grab an hour here and there to listen.
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I finished The Dragon Republic over a month ago and I'm still torn on how to properly write a review for it.. To say I love these characters would be an understatement. They are carved into my soul for the rest of my life.

Rebecca Kuang is a mastermind and I can only dream of being as brilliant of a writer as she is. This world and characters, the events that take place, all the political plot lines.. It is all SO AMAZING.

Please read all the trigger warnings for this series and then if it sounds like a book you can handle then join me in loving it! 
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An engaging follow up to The Poppy Wars. I liked how the characters were developed further through the action making this a middle book that was purposeful and necessary. (No dreaded second book slump here). Still dark but not nearly as much as the first one.
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I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The second book in the Poppy War trilogy, my review for the first book can be found  here. This book starts not long from where the first book ended. The war is over, the Muganese have been soundly defeated, and an uprising against the Empire is starting. Rin has changed over the course of the first book and when we see her now, she's broken. She has fallen into an opium addiction after the mental, emotional, and physical trauma from war without actual resources needed to get better. While there's a lot of plot and world building here, ostensibly, the second book is about trauma and grief after living through something horrible. It's about the cycle of abuse that people fall into because it's the only thing they know. It's about putting trust in the wrong people because of desperation and fear. It's about the consequences of war for not just the people making it happen, but the people who get caught in it. And surprisingly, this book also has a lot about the ideological differences between the East and West, and also a touch of the "white man's burden" mindset.

The Dragon Warlord, Yin Vaisra, is leading a rebellion against the Empress. In his eyes, the time for the empire is over and it's time for Democracy to have a chance. The different war lords are taking sides, and outside forces are coming in as well. It's a grimdark fantasy and [author:R.F. Kuang|16820001] has held back nothing in terms of how awful war is. There's graphic depictions of rape and death but it never feels gratuitous. The world is incredibly well fleshed out (perhaps made easier by borrowing so many things from the real world) and has been expanded significantly in this book. The characters are also well flesh out, each one with a voice and purpose that makes sense. Even if the reader doesn't necessarily agree with decisions that characters are making, it's very understandable as to why each choice was made.

Like the previous book, Kuang incorporates a lot of Chinese history in the book. The most obvious example is the battle that takes place in Red Cliff. Anyone familiar with the actual Battle of Red Cliff will recognize the strategies used and could figure out the outcome of the battle. There's also the Hesperians, (hesperia is Latin for western land) with blue eyes and light hair, who come to the aid of Vaisra with the promise of future aid in the form of guns and ship but also have missionaries on hand for converting people, and lots of opium. The mix of modern Chinese history with ancient Chinese history and Chinese mythology and then blended together is very well done. Though I do wonder if there are topics that are off limits. With her willingness to hit the big events of Chinese history, would she also be willing to have something like the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution? Because based on the other events that she's incorporated into the series, not including those would seem like a glaring omission. Or would the author take the risk of having Nikara actually becoming a democracy at the end? I can't wait to read the third book and find out.
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Beautifully written sequel that is equally as good as (or better) than “The Poppy Wars.”  I love the balance of character development and gut-wrenching dilemmas on justice, revenge, retribution, humanity, and war. It’s a book that both entertains and provokes thought. Highly recommended.
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Review will go live on my blog on 09/30/19

The Poppy War is over.  Rin made sure of that when she used the full power of the Phoenix goddess to destroy the home island of the Mugenese Federation, killing their emperor and throwing their army into disarray.  But the end of the war didn't bring a happy ending. Betrayed by the Vipress, the shamanic Empress of Nikara, Rin and her fellow Cike members are on the run.  But a glimmer of hope appears on the horizon.  The Dragon Warlord plans to unite the southern territories and overthrow the Empress, and he wants Rin and her compatriots to help him do it.  Plagued by guilt, trauma, and a burning desire for revenge, Rin agrees, content finally have an outlet for her anger and grief. But with the arrival of allies from a foreign land, Rin realizes that the path to revenge might not be cut and dry.  She's always been a soldier, but can she always trust those who are giving the commands?

THE DRAGON REPUBLIC is an engrossing tale of power and responsibility, focused on very flawed people who nonetheless have your undivided attention.  Kuang has created characters that you can utterly empathize with as they struggle to survive in a brutal world. Rin is once again the heart of the story, and she's faltering under the immensity of being a power player on the world stage.  Where in THE POPPY WAR, Rin was concerned with clawing her way into a prestigious school and proving she belonged there, Rin now has to prove that she belongs at the table with the generals deciding the fate of her country.  Except, Rin isn't sure she wants to be there.  The guilt of destroying an entire island nation weighs heavily, and she'd rather avoid responsibility for her actions by letting someone else point her in a direction. Rin's arc is one of learning whether or not she has it in her to be a true leader, to accept consequences and decide if she should act on behalf of herself or others. 

Even when she's trying to just go with the flow, Kuang threads the needle of never making Rin seem like a passive character.  This book is full of momentum, stakes and deadlines, the tension of not knowing where the enemy will strike next or if you even stand a chance against them.  Rin is constantly lashing out, not just physically, but verbally.  Never one to say silent, she is constantly challenging her leaders, demanding answers.  Sure, she can be petty and whiny at times, but that doesn't mean she's wrong in the questions she's asking.  Rin gets particularly fractious with the son of the Dragon Lord, a young man she doesn't think is stepping up to the plate when he has the chance; he, in turn, doesn't think she is willing to make the sacrifices that war demands. 

But perhaps most compelling moment is when Rin finally encounters the Vipress.  When villains make the argument to the hero that "we're the same, you and me," it often comes across as a clichéd piece of dialogue you can easily dismiss.  But in this instance, the author has done such a fantastic job of writing flawed, three-dimensional characters, I actually paused and considered the argument.  Rin isn't perfect, she's incredibly human, and what might be justifiable to her is incredibly callous to another. 

Al of this drama is playing against a backdrop of impending colonization.  In this book, we meet the Hesperians, a white-coded nation showing up to see if the Asian-inspired Nikara can be "civilized."  They offer tantalizing aid to the fledgling Dragon Republic, but demand they prove themselves worthy of that aid first. It makes for rash decision making and boxes characters into corners and explores the kind of leaders who would be tempted by such offers in the first place.   There have been more works of fiction lately examining the act of colonization from the perspective of those being colonized, and it's an important look at how degrading it is to rely on help from those who don't even view you as human.

But lest you think THE DRAGON REPUBLIC waxes too philosophical, never fear, there's plenty of war and action to be had in these pages.  The days of school are done, and now it's time for naval battles and warring shamans.  From the opening pages, when Rin leads her fellow shamanic Cike compatriots on a strike mission, Kuang keeps the action coming, while never losing sight of the horror of war and the thousands that die while leaders squabble.  All of this is to put Rin through the grinder once again, so that by the end, she knows unequivocally where she belongs and what comes next.  And that decision should make her enemies tremble.
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