The Dragon Republic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Well, fuck. I’m pretty sure this book has ruined me for all others. No, I'm certain it has.

The Poppy War was in my top ten books of 2018, and its sequel, The Dragon Republic has exceeded all of my expectations, officially becoming my favorite fantasy read of 2019. That’s right, spot number one is now ruled by the powerful, damaged, and fiery Fang Runin.

R.F. Kuang has taken her epic grimdark fantasy to a whole new level, pulling zero punches while showing us a fracturing Nikara in the aftermath of events of The Poppy War. Rin is back with vengeance in her heart and opium in her lungs. She now commands the Cike, and is no more comfortable in her new role than she is with controlling her god-given powers, so she’s turned to drugs to keep her god, past, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and self-hatred at bay to varying degrees of failure and success. I hate to say it, but I loved how Rin fought and dealt with these feelings within herself. It made for an emotionally raw read, and as a result her sometimes erratic decisions became ultimately believable.

Speaking of feelings, I don’t know how to talk about this book without introducing major spoilers, so l’ll just say that it was Rin’s chemistry with her closest friends and found family that, in the end, cruelly broke me. Yes, this book has all the hallmarks of fantastic grimdark fantasy: bloody battles, gory deaths, graphic scenes, dueling religions, bitter betrayals, harsh politics, and the machinations of chaotic and powerful gods, but for me what tore my heart out were the interpersonal relationships, the quiet moments, all well written and dread-inducing. So yeah. Fuck.

The Dragon Republic is a brutal, tragic, war torn, gut-punch of a ride where the stakes have been raised and the pieces all put into place so cleverly for what I presume will be an explosive third book in the series.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to start my reread to cure my migraine-strength book hangover.


A version of this review will feature on Goodreads and Amazon, as well as a mini review on my Instagram on pub day.
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While I did not love this book as much as the first, I still thought it was exceptional. It is literally a war story - 500+ pages that feel like the second half of the first one. Rin is experiencing PTSD, loss, anger, rage, and is self-medicating with opiates. She's suddenly in charge of the Cike, and has literally no idea what to do with it.

This book has so many content warnings. They extend from the previous one. War, torture, self-harm, drug abuse, gore (so much gore), rape, mass casualties, and more.

I really enjoyed the relationships in this book. Some were reforged, some were built, others were truly and utterly broken. But they each felt real. Also - the villains were great. 

The plot moves at a similar pace to the last one, slow with bursts of fire (get it??). But it all builds.

A wonderful continuation of the story, highly recommend.
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This review took me forever to write, because I couldn’t quite put into words the perfection of this book. There is no second book syndrome here, and no need to worry that it won’t live up to the hype: The Dragon Republic shines just as bright – if not more – than The Poppy War. Once again, R. F. Kuang has written a masterful fantasy story. 

Grimdark fantasies can be difficult to get through, but R. F. Kuang does an excellent job blending the darker aspects of the novel with lighter elements and some humorous dialogue. There’s a lot more political maneuvering happening in this book, as well as the consequences of actions taken in The Poppy War begin to make an appearance.

I think I enjoyed The Dragon Republic immensely more than The Poppy War for one major reason: the characters. New characters are introduced in this book that are essential to the story, such as The Dragon Warlord (Nezha’s father). I really enjoyed the complexity of his character and found myself easily understanding Rin’s reasoning for supporting him. Along with new faces, a couple of my favorite characters return from The Poppy War: Kitay and...a certain someone whose name I won't spoil. The three of them are together for a good chunk of the book, it was amazing to watch Rin’s relationships with each of them deepen and grow. They really take center stage in this book, which I think is why I loved the book so much. Also, I don’t want to get too spoilery, but R. F. Kuang really gave me the fuel for my ship and my shipper heart was so thankful. ❤️

My original review was much different than this, because R. F. Kuang pulls a plot twist out of nowhere and nearly destroyed my will to live. The entire book is action-packed and fast-paced, but the tension really builds during the last few chapters with an ending that is going to sucker punch you in the face. Holy shit. I have no idea what to expect in the next book, but it is riding at the top of my list for most anticipated releases for next year.

The Dragon Republic gave me a serious book hangover. Similar to The Poppy War, this stellar sequel is full of non-stop action, amazing morally-complex characters, political intrigue, and worldbuilding unlike any other. The world is not ready for this book.
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The Poppy War was my favorite book last year. While The Dragon Republic isn't quite as good, it's still compelling, even though it took a while to get through. It's brutal and depressing most of the way, and my reactions to Rin kept fluctuating between respect and revulsion. I'll want to continue her adventures, although I'm glad it will be a while before I have to follow her into battle again.
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Thank you NetGalley for giving me a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

Seriously THANK YOU! I've been craving this book since I read The Poppy War last year... and it did NOT disappoint!

Trigger Warning (because like its predecessor this book has a lot: talk of rape, attempted rape, talk of genocide, severe abuse (seen and talked about), drug abuse, forced drug consumption, depression, self harm, white supremacy, possibly more tbh.

Putting this book into words is hard, because I'm feeling a lot of emotions right now. And because so much happened. SO MUCH. If you read The Poppy War this should not be a surprise as that book managed to, in detail, cover multiple years and events. Well, while the sequel did not cover the same amount of time, it did cover a wide variety of events, and it managed to do it in detail.

This is going to be a spoiler free review, which is honestly really fucking hard because so much "spoilery" things happen in the very beginning and influence the rest of the story. And honestly the synopsis of this book doesn't even TOUCH on the events of this book. But as I am reviewing an ARC I promise NO SPOILERS!!!


This book starts pretty much right after the end of The Poppy War, so we see Rin dealing with some pretty heavy shit. And that isn't even the top of the iceberg of what we see. So much happens in this book, it's insane. The beginning starts off a little slower, but just like with The Poppy War, it is setting the stage and is based on character development.

Even with it being a bit slower, this story was never boring. I was engaged the entire time and dying to know what would happen next.

There were many ups and downs in this story, and many parts that had me horrified. This is once again a story about war and it shows those horrors. It does not shy away from it.


I need to start of with Kitay, because once again this boy is a highlight! I love him, straight and simple. This kid is just amazing. It was really interesting to see him in this book because it's very clear that what happened in the first book effected him. This is no surprise as what he went through was beyond horrific. Seeing the changes was really interesting and watching him come back into himself was really interesting. He's still my boy and a main favorite of mine!

Rin. This girl has a shitload of issues to go through, this is no surprise. After what she went through during the war, and what she did at the end of the first book, I think it's safe to say anyone would. When we start this book, she is not in a good place. Seeing Rin go through what she does in this book and come out on the other side was unbelievable. It's no surprise that Rin is a strong character, but seeing her endure and come out strong is great because what Rin goes through in this book was just... wow.

Some of the other characters we know from book one are back and it was really great to see them again. We got a lot more about some characters, and got to see some cameos from people I didn't expect. My big surprise new favorite is Venka! She wasn't in it as much as I'd want, but given what happened in book one it makes sense. But Venka is so strong and a badass and I kind of love her! Which is funny considering how I felt about her at the beginning of book one. 

A lot of new characters introduced that I just absolutely hate. Especially the Gray Company. Fuck those guys. Some from book one who I did hate, then ended up liking, and others I liked and now I don't. But I won't say more than that. 

Final Thoughts

This book took me on a wild ride. And that ending. HOLY HELLS I NEED THAT NEXT BOOK IMMEDIATELY! I am dying to know what happens next and so sad that I have to wait so long for the next book!

If you loved the first book you will love this one as well! Once again we see some horrific moments of war, but they are all realistic (which makes it more horrific tbh) and really leave you thinking.
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I received an advance copy of the book via Netgalley.

The Poppy War kicked off this grimdark Chinese history-inspired series, which continues with The Dragon Republic. Rin is an abrasive protagonist--she's a survivor, in part because of her own ruthlessness. She also is a shaman, able to channel a Phoenix and wield fire. Amid the topsy-turvy politics of her homeland, she is a weapon capable of genocide. As this book begins, she's suffering from severe PTSD, mired in grief from the losses rendered at the end of The Poppy War, and heavily addicted to opium as her coping mechanism.

Full confession: I almost stopped the book a short ways in. Rin's impulsive, brutal nature is pretty much the opposite of my own, and I felt a profound urge to slap her and yell, 'Grow up!' Fortunately, I stuck with the book, and fortunately, she did just that. This is a book about maturing as a person and in terms of power. Like its predecessor, this book is incredibly dark and gruesome at times. Kuang does not shy away from showing the full nature of war and its aftermath, and no character is sacred or safe. The ending contains jaw-dropping twists that leave me very curious about what the next volume will deliver.
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Well damn... RF Kuang is coming for your wig, your wife, your dog, your feelings, your patio furniture - she wants it all. This book is completely brutal and pulls no punches (I would say it's even darker than the first book), which I really appreciate about it. This is not a book that glorifies war or the choices that leaders make in the course of shaping the future of nations. This is a book that looks at war as a loss no matter who comes out on top, and it's not afraid to bring the horror of what is really happening right up into the reader's face. I think the highs of this book are probably higher than The Poppy War, but I do think it suffers from even more pacing issues than the first book. With those in balance, I'd land on a 4 star for this book, just as I gave the first book 4 stars.

That said, this is definitely not a sophomore slump and THAT ENDING THOUGH. Cannot wait for the conclusion of this trilogy.
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FAIR WARNING! There will be spoilers here, because some folks show up that we never expected to see again.

The Poppy War was my all time favorite read last year. It's brutal, it's grim, but it's so damn good. I read it for a book club and I think maybe five of us finished it? It's a beast, for sure.

This picks up a few weeks after the events of The Poppy War, with Rin leading the rest of the Cike on an assassination trip. That's right, the best soldiers in all of Nikan are now just mercenaries for a pirate queen.

Rin is struggling. That's putting it lightly, honestly. She's not even really holding it together after she literally burned the entirety of the Federation of Mugen, witnessed Altan's death, and is dealing with a killer opium addiction. Kuang is putting Rin through it, but in a way, it doesn't feel overly abusive? Like, Rin is dealing with these things because of choices she made. These are all direct consequences of her actions. And it doesn't shy away from PTSD at all.

We learn more about Hesparia, or, Europe. We learn about the missionaries, the outrageous racism (that honestly is accurate in regards to ideologies of the area/time). Sister Petra is the absolute WORST.

We see more of Nezha, that glorious cocky asshole. We learn more about his family.

And the Viperess. The true monster of the story. Rin's whole goal now is to kill her for starting another war and killing the only connection she had to her past.

A haunting look at PTSD following the events of The Poppy War, The Dragon Republic is an incredible sequel that doesn't suffer from second-book-syndrome in any way. I give it 5 out of 5 tridents.
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This was a great follow up to The Poppy War. It vividly details the aftermath of war. It shows us how brutal it can be for those fighting it and of course for those displaced by it. I loved these characters and while I was a bit frustrated with Rin several times, I loved her strength and resilience.  This series will be a fun one to discuss with a  book group at my library!
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“People will seek to use you or destroy you. If you want to live, you must pick a side. So do not shirk from war, child. Do not flinch from suffering. When you hear screaming, run toward it.”

I loved R.F. Kuang’s debut novel, The Poppy War, and gave it 5 stars. Kuang’s sequel, The Dragon Republic, is, believe it or not, even better. The Dragon Republic has done away with the military school of its predecessor, and has thrown us right into battle. This book is gruesome and unapologetic about its description of war and its aftereffects. This books is incredibly clever and detailed. The amount of research that must have gone into this book is evident in every page. I loved the strategies, shifting alliances, and battle scenes. This book is completely engaging right from the start.

Rin’s character development has only grown in the sequel. In the beginning of the novel, we see Rin at her lowest point. She’s guilt ridden from the events of the conclusion of The Poppy War, opium addicted, and hell bent on revenge. She and the Cike soon meet the Dragon Warlord and become involved in a scheme to kill the Empress and establish the country as a republic. Rin is only all too happy to embroil herself in another war. I really love the complexity of Rin’s character, and her internal struggle of morality really showcases her depth.  The secondary characters are equally well thought out and endearing, especially her old classmates Kitay and Venka.

Overall, The Dragon Republic is a dark, intense read that had me hooked until the very end. A worthy sequel to Kuang’s debut.

“Think about it,” Daji whispered, tracing cool fingers over Rin’s cheek. “Figure out who you’re fighting for. And when you know, come find me.”
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I DNF'd this book after 60%. It's more or less the same vibe of the first book, but with a lot less drama. I didn't really care for Rin in this book. She's whiny and helpless, and this book is a lot slower with not as much interesting world-building.
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When I heard countless people talking about how awesome The Poppy War series by R.F Kuang was, I knew I had to check it out. Despite not being the biggest adult fantasy person, I picked it up expecting to be blown away, which is what happened (kind of). I ended up loving it enough to read the second book in the series

Without featuring spoilers, The Dragon Republic picks up from where The Poppy War takes off, and I enjoyed it more than I did the Poppy War. I think the thing that makes this series such an interesting one is the way in which Kuang writes her characters. Rin, in particular, is such a layered character in the sense that there are so many sides to her. You can't help but root for her, despite the fact that she makes mistakes and does questionable things. The side characters too, especially nezha, supply some great moments - I loved getting to take a look into  his backstory, and his complicated relationship with Rin. 

The main issue I have with these books (hence the 4 star rating) is the pacing. I struggle a lot with slow books, especially ones that are slow in the beginning, which I feel like both these books suffer from. I also feel like these books can be a tad too dark for me, and I often feel like I have to take a break from reading them to read something else. This, however, is in no way the author's fault, but is something I as a reader deal with. The writing, then, is exquisite, despite its tough subject matter. 

All in all, I enjoy these books and can 100% say they are top quality, but there are certain aspects that will not let me add this to my favorites shelf. I'll look forward to the next R.F Kuang book though, since this series is unlike anything I have ever read!
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Review posted on Goodreads:

I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review

To start, I absolutely adored The Poppy War. It brought an entirely new perspective to the genre that I had never seen before, and was genuinely surprised at how compelling Rin was to me despite how often I was mad at her. It's quite possible I liked Dragon Republic just as much as Poppy War, if not more. Like the first, this book warrants some pretty massive trigger warnings for things like suicide, sexual assault, drug abuse, highly specific descriptions of war and battle scenes, and manipulation/gaslighting from a father figure. 

REMINDER: This is not a YA novel. The Poppy War wasn't either. Don't give it to a teen.

That’s not to say this is a story that shouldn’t be told. The anti-colonialist ties in this book are impossible to ignore, and the book is all the better for it. Kuang intricately reveals the threatening forces of colonization, religious missionaries, racism, and xenophobia that the Nikarans encounter. Readers view a glimpse of the tedious and horrific stripping of culture, land, and power from the Nikarans through small but significant steps until they’re almost completely lost. I’m so incredibly grateful to be reading a story as powerful as this, told in the perspective of people like the Nikarans, rather than the colonizers. 

Some fantastic friends make glorious and sputtering returns to the story. Some friends will never be seen again, and everyone’s loyalties are tested in vicious ways. R.F. Kuang definitely ripped my heart out a bunch of times over the course of this book and I’m all the more grateful for it. 

Kuang takes time and care to show the effects of all the hurt that Rin has had to endure, and it takes time. Rin has PTSD, she’s a drug addict, and she’s a teen. She’s not going to make the brightest of decisions, and she’s not going to make them at the most convenient of times. Sometimes that’s kind of how being a teen works. Because of this, the middle of the book definitely took more time and effort to read than the beginning and end. I don’t mind it though, I feel that the information and growth that happened were important and meaningful. 

Act III was simply amazing. There was so much power, fear, and desperation, I couldn’t stop reading. The massive scale of the entire scene, brought about by fantastic world building was breathtaking. There were clever plans, devious folks with nefarious goals, and supposedly benevolent leaders who could end the lives of thousands by simply breathing a sentence. Watching Rin tight-rope through these encounters kept me perpetually on the edge of my seat. I would absolutely recommend this book to others, and am incredibly excited for book 3!
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This book really did a number on me and I mean that in the best possible way. I absolutely love The Poppy War, it was one of my favorite books from last year. When I love a book so much, I often go into a sequel with a little bit of worry--will it live up to the greatness of the first one? The answer to that is, thankfully, yes. And not only that, I think this surpasses the first book in a lot of ways.

Like the first book, this one has three parts to it, each roughly a third of the book. In the first section, Rin is busy dealing with the aftermath of the events that occurred at the ending of The Poppy War. Thanks to Rin, victory is theirs. But it's a hollow one, and the war most assuredly isn't over. The Cike are in shambles and Rin is struggling with her guilt, her grief, and a sense of inadequacy to be any good to them, let alone their leader. Not to mention she has a terrible drug addiction which is slowly killing her. Rin's a girl who really needs to get herself together. But, you also can't help feeling for her, the weight of all of these things bearing down on her, and you kind of understand why it's easier to just pass the time in a drug filled haze rather then try to confront the pain of reality.

Eventually Rin manages to get herself together enough to get involved in another war. Content to be used, she lets others use her. But that's the thing--she isn't content. Rin is smart, so very smart. She's just as capable at military strategy as any of the generals she works under. Her temper and her impulsiveness get her into trouble, as does her single-mindedness and her unwillingness to compromise. Even when she does finally compromise, it's grudgingly. She's such a beautifully complex and flawed character, and I love her to pieces even when I want to scream at her. I also love all of the relationships she has with other characters in the book, which really just serve to enforce how alone she is, and how alone she's always been. She's part of the Cike, she's their defacto leader, but she still feels like an outsider there as well. It's hard for her to trust people, as to be expected. She has a really interesting character arc here, where her progress comes back to bite her later. Welp!

The pacing of this one was pretty good. I did think the beginning and middle section were more steady, but compared to the last third of the book they felt slow because things really ramp up towards the end. One thing after another starts happening and sometimes I found myself thinking 'wait, did that just happen?' and had to go back and reread because there's so much going on. There's some pretty great twists and turns and unexpected surprises, which I loved as a reader, but also left me feeling shocked and completely discombobulated. Thanks, book, for all the feelings.

I love how Kuang, once again, didn't pull any punches or try to sugarcoat things. This book is just straight up about how war is hell, humans are trash, everyone is capable of the worst kind of evil, and also no one is ever on the right side because there is no right side (see humans are trash statement). We get to see some of the worst of humanity again in this book and sometimes it's the characters we're rooting for. Let's unpack that 'no one is on the right side because there is no right side'. The 'sides' are just people who want something fighting other people who want the same thing--in this case, mostly that thing is to be in charge and shape the world in their own vision because they think they know what's best for everyone else. Power is part of that because it goes along with the territory. But what you really have here is an ideological battle played out in epic scale, and it's not until too late that Rin begins to realize this. Rin is too focused on her own vengeance and being a cog in a machine, a good little soldier, because she thinks that's all she's good for. It's a bit heartbreaking when you see her finally figuring things out, looking at the bigger picture and putting all the pieces together.

Even though this book is dark, and deals with many dark things, it's not one of those books that is grim just for the sake of being grim. The darkness in this book is very deliberate and serves a purpose, reminding us that we're not so far removed from this side of humanity. This, too, is us, if we let it be. But, even when everything is terrible there's still people willing to fight for what they believe in, whatever that may be, filled with hope for a better future. So it's not really nihilistic in any way. And yet, every side has the same sense of hope of one day bringing their vision of order to the world, and they're willing to do terrible things to get there. Hope is a great and terrible thing.

Overall, I loved The Dragon Republic, it was a fantastic follow up and it's left me a bit breathless waiting for the final book. 5/5 stars.

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The Dragon Republic is The Poppy War x10000000. The scale of the politics and action is multiplied enormously in this sequel, and the pages are full of plot twists that help to flesh out the world we're reading about.
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This is the continuing story of Fang Runin, after the… uh… the events of The Poppy War (I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers here). Rin is having a bit of a tough time with her shamanic powers, that of the Phoenix, one of the many, many gods of her people. She has the ability to call up fire, but with a god screaming in her head for the power to do it… well… it’s a bit difficult to not go a bit insane. Or, instead, to do what a great deal of people like her do to shut off most of their higher functions: opium.

The first part of this novel deals pretty heavily with drug abuse and recovery, and it was often times difficult to read, in that I have known people with drug problems, and so I truly felt for Rin here, as I have felt before for others.

The writing was fantastic. All kinds of twists and turns and ups and downs happened throughout this one, and I didn’t see most of them coming, but I ultimately sat glued to my seat much of the time. Although it took me a little more time to read than other books have lately, when I got to reading it, I was immersed and on the edge of my seat for most of my time with it. Kuang really knows how to ramp up the action and intrigue. This was a very difficult book to have to put down. Reading it when I was short on time/in a waiting room/on my lunch break was sometimes frustrating when my free time ended and I had to put it away.

The last quarter of this book was an absolute rollercoaster though. There wasn’t enough free time in the universe for how much I wanted to gobble it all down in one go. So good. Dat ending though. 😭😭😭😭😭

We got to see a few characters a little more closely, such as Nezha and Kitay, and I enjoyed that because I really liked them as characters throughout The Poppy War as well. We also get to see a little more closely into Chaghan and Qara’s people, and the nature of the bond between them, which was interesting. I loved some of the banter in this one too, usually between Kitay and Rin or Baji and… anyone, really. Rin and her relationship with both her peers and her powers was the driving force of this one for me though. Rin oftentimes makes rash decisions, and those decisions backfire realistically from time to time. There were times where I wanted to just say ‘Rin. No, that’s… no. Just no.’ at her. She is a protagonist who isn’t infallible, and I like that in a protagonist.

So, all told, I absolutely loved this one, as I did the book before it, even when they hurt my feels (maybe especially then). At times, it deals with really tough subject matter, and it gets dark AF on the regular, but then, this book is inspired by actual history, and war, famine, drug abuse are a huge part of that history. You can see a lot of real life in this particular fantasy, which hit me right in all of my feelings, and that, to me, means stellar writing.

Thanks to the author, as well as Harper Voyager via NetGalley for the review copy.
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When I was approved for an ARC of The Dragon Republic, I was so excited and relieved to get my hands on it. The Poppy War was one of my favorite (if not my #1) book I've read this year so far and I'm happy to say its sequel did not disappoint! I am amazed by this series that has so much power over my feelings and emotions. 

I've already pre-ordered a copy to have on my shelves because let's face it, those books are beautiful and I'm going to re-read them sooner or later. 

In The Dragon Republic, we follow Rin and the Cike right after the events of the first book. I don't know if I can say anything without spoiling The Poppy War. I finished this book two hours ago and my thoughts are still reeling. My mind is still in this really well-developed world and with these characters who I gave a piece of my heart. 

This story are so well-done and well-written. I have to say however that I found the FMC, Rin, annoying (especially in the first 15%) but it didn't bother me that much. You might see her described as a whiny brat making tantrums in other reviews, but honestly, I don't care. I still love her and if you can push past that, then this book is just amazing. If you like fantasy, please give this series a try if you haven't already. 

When I first started it, I wasn't sure if this series was a duology or not and with that ending it's clearly not over and I'm so happy about that! However, that means I'll have to wait who knows how long to find out what's going to happen next. I cannot wait. OMG. 

The next book I'm going to read is going to have a hard time. I mean... how can you compare to this? You just can't. 

(Thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley to let me read and review an e-ARC of this book)
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R. F. Kuang’s follow up novel of Poppy War, The Dragon Republic was EPIC! We return to Rin three months after the Poppy war has ended. She and her team are working assassination missions for a pirate smuggler. In return Rin will receive payment with ships and supplies so she and complete her mission, but things don’t work out as she plans. 

Kuang wasted no time going in full force in this sequel. Driven by the power of revenge Rin draws her focus through angry and the only thing she wants is to be is a solider. Moving past Nikara and the Mugenese federation, we are now introduced to the Hesperian’s. The Hesperian is a race of Westerners that bring technologies, arquebuses and airships into the story. 

Told though her perspective this fast pace fully charged novel will keep you wanting more. Full of darkness, tactics, shifting allegiances, war and death this is a must read if you love fantasy.  Thank you, Harper Collins/Harper Voyager, for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review. 5 out of 5
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While I really enjoyed The Poppy War, there were a few things that were a bit off for me, namely I felt no connection to Rin and the violence in the book came really close to crossing a line for me at one point (which is saying something because I’ve become pretty desensitized to violence in books at this point in my reading career). 

I feel like The Dragon Republic fixed those two problems. Rin, while still nowhere near the most lovable character, became more human. While I didn’t necessarily agree with her decisions all the time, I always understood where she was coming from and why she made the choices she made. I didn’t feel this in the first book, so I was really happy with the character development this time around.

The violence was also tamed down a bit which for me, at least, was a big plus. Maybe that makes me sound like a prude. However, as I mentioned before, there was a scene so brutal in The Poppy War that I almost had to quit the book. I can see how it was beneficial to the story, yet nonetheless, it shook me. If another scene like that had popped up in this book, I probably would have had to pull the plug. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, there was violence. Some real cringeworthy moments. But they didn’t make me feel the repulsion that I felt while reading the first book.

Also, the ending to this book was badass. The last two chapters had me staying up late into the night to finish. I can’t wait to see how book three plays out.
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This review can also be found on my blog!

CW: drug use, addiction, rape, cannibalism (briefly implied), PTSD, grief and violence

1. The Poppy War – 5/5

Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. The above gif is, honestly, my end reaction at the last few chapters because boy did this fuck me up.

So, welcome to my incoherent review that will be spoiler-y for the first book!

The book picks up pretty soon after the end of The Poppy War. Rin has destroyed everything and is now basically wanted by everyone. She won the war, but her win came at a huge cost for everyone. That’s what she’s learning now.

The book’s plot was fucking insane. If I thought the first one had intrigue, this one was fucking madness. We got multiple people trying to pull Rin to their side so they can use her powers to swing the war in their favor. The biggest one is the Dragon Warlord, Nezha’s father, who she throws her lot in with once she realizes there’s really nothing that she can do. Except, really, Rin doesn’t like to be controlled in the least.

And then there’s Rin over there trying to figure out what she wants while she’s dealing with the grief of losing Altan. Now she’s the last of the Speerlies and has to put that burden on her, along with all that she’s done and seen. Which is a lot because Rin has gone down a long path, then there’s even more in this book.

What I really loved about this book was how the characters grew and allegiances were cemented. It was beautiful to read that because it was so lovely to see the survivors band together even if they don’t really like each other very much still.

Then, there’s the world. It expands so much in this book! You get to see more of Nikan and the various people who live in it, getting along and fighting as you can expect. Plus, you get to see new religions and people, like the Hesperians (who are basically the Europeans trying to colonize China and push Christianity as the one and true religion). You also get to see more and new gods in the pantheon in action as the walls are broken down.

I mean, this book was just so fucking fantastic on so many levels.

One thing that killed me was the fact that the ARC doesn’t have the character list completed. There’s a space for it, but it’s not done yet so I didn’t have that helping me out. And, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m horrible with names in books. Especially epic fantasy. I kept getting characters lost since so much happens in this book and you’re introduced to so many new people in the course of the book. So, be prepared for that! This is epic fantasy at its finest. And, unlike GRRM or Brandon Sanderson, there’s an end in sight since this is only a trilogy.

I just loved this book so much and I feel so lucky that I got an ARC of it. It’s been on my must have list since I finished the first book and now I’m just mostly dead waiting for the final book to finish me off.
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