Cover Image: The Dragon Republic

The Dragon Republic

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Book Review: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang 🐉🔥🐲🔥
I am so disappointed that I didn’t like this one. I read the Poppy War last year and found it too jarring and gory, with a weird timeline. I was hoping Kuang would have ironed out her timing issues and amped up characterization. No dice. Don’t hate me. 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

The concept is there. The research is obviously there. I love the idea of most of the characters. It just didn’t work for me. The style is youthful in a way that’s inappropriate for the violent context of the story. 
The whole Rin-Altan- Nezha dynamic is one I’ve seen plenty. Rin is an underdeveloped “strong female character,” with so much talk about her powers and addiction without any emotive narrative.

The plot felt like one long climb, with no peak or descent. I appreciate, though, that TDR was less graphic than its predecessor during battle sequences. 
I like the concept of Kuang’s world so much that I’m willing to give the next book a try. However, I would love to see some major growth in style and characterization. 🐲
ARC courtesy of Harper Collins and Net Galley
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I have not stopped raving about The Poppy War to everyone and I was so excited to receive an ARC for The Dragon Republic! 
I had high expectations for this book, and Kuang not only met, but greatly surpassed them. Get ready to be emotional torn apart by a series of plot twists, betrayals, character developments, battles, and revelations. Although packed with action, Kuang's prose has become even more seamless in TDR. She dives deeper into the relationships between various characters, showing different sides of individuals that we only got a glimpse of in TPW. Her world-building is also a lot more clear, which is great because TDR involves all of the provinces of Nikara and more foreign states.
TDR is a novel about trust and moving on. Rin suffers from the burden of what happened to the Federation, and she struggles to figure out what to do next, and who she can truly trust. However, the true question is, can she ever trust herself? 

The only criticism I have is that, because there is so much action, sometimes the plot moved very quickly and I was begging for more of a moment. There were characters who I wanted to learn more about before they disappeared, or actions from characters that I felt like was surprising based on their characterizations in TPW. However, I am someone who places more value on plot and the ability for a novel to make me feel raw emotion, and the fast pace of TDR did not take away from either of these.
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My thanks to Harper Collins/Voyager and Netgalley.
This book was so much better than the first. So much action this time! I confess that I didn't even finish the first book, but now I may just to back and do that. Looking forward to book 3.
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AMAZING!!! I looooved the first book in this series, The Poppy War, and when I saw the second up for review I knew I had to grab it right away. The author described this series as showing how a girl from a rural background can grow up into Mao ZeDong, an exciting premise that is being executed flawlessly. There is a lot of violence and horrors but the author is pulling from historical events, which makes that much more of an impact. She makes you root for the main character, even though you know she's going down a path that she can't come back from. There's also a decent amount of "magic" elements too that add to the mystery. As long as you don't mistake this for YA, I would recommend to any fan of fantasy and intricate world-building.
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A very satisfying continuation of the story – no second book syndrome here. I love the insight into Chinese history and the unique fantasy world. I appreciate we get a little more world building in this one.
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I feel like the main character has changed significantly since book 1 and not in a way I necessarily like. I found that in this book I almost couldn’t stand her. The story was pretty good but I couldn’t get past the characters. I felt the main one was selfish and couldn’t get past it.
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As with all sequels, I went into this book (thanks to the publisher for giving me the ARC) with expectations set by the previous book. The Poppy War, though well done, was in large part also cliche. It hit many of the tropes, and the plot and characters developed in precisely the way I expected them to … until RF Kuang pulled the proverbial rug out from under me, and suddenly I had no idea what to expect. The last third or so of the book was stomach punch after stomach punch, with an ending that shocked me.

The Dragon Republic was similar in many respects. The first two-thirds or so of the book, again, followed many of the classic tropes, though a very well-done version of them. It honestly had trouble holding my attention at times.

And then, like with The Poppy War, that changed abruptly, and I was glued to my Kindle for the final third or thereabouts of The Dragon Republic.

This series is inspired by the history of China starting in roughly the late 19th century, and much like Guy Gavriel Kay at his best, Kuang had me spending a lot of time scrolling through WIkipedia and /r/AskHistorians learning about a period of history of which I was largely ignorant. This was the case with the previous book, but to a much lesser extent: things like the Rape of Nanjing and Unit 731, though inarguably horrible, were also relatively straightforward in their brutality. This book gets into the much more complicated history of Western imperialism and colonialism with regards to China. Despite my conscious efforts to diversify my reading on general principles, my perspective does for the most part remain distinctly Western. Reading this was something of an eye-opener.

Moving away from specifically Chinese history, this book (like The Poppy War) pulls no punches in addressing difficult topics such as drug addiction, rape, and war in general. Rin is indeed “terribly good at war,” and she is self-aware enough to wrestle honestly with what that means.

World-building wise, we learn a good deal more about the history of the world, the nature of the shamans and the gods, and especially about the Triumvirate.

And (probably the best recommendation any book can give): I really, really, REALLY want the next book. Like, right now.

Kuang’s Nebula nomination for The Poppy War was very well earned. The Dragon Republic proves it wasn’t anything like a fluke.
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I love everything about this sequel except for Rin. The Chinese-inspired mythology and lore, the description of war as well as military strategy and tactics are still fantastic. But Rin, urghh, she turned into an indecisive mess who only wanted to follow orders from someone else instead of standing up and taking command. She has many characteristics of a typical YA MC: hot-headed, impulsive, afraid to face their own issues and feelings. And to be honest, I'm really fed up with that type of characterization. The entire time reading this book, I just wished she was side-lined into minor character so that I could get the POV from someone else more interesting.
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The mindset that any one person is fundamentally inferior to another is infuriating. The sheer arrogance of such a notion is one of the most abhorrent qualities a human can possess. Whether it’s due to a slightly different shade of skin pigmentation, or a preference of which obscure mythical book passage to follow, or which side of an imaginary line you were conceived on, wars have been started over it all by the small-minded and ignorant. Many of these horrific themes are present in R. F. Kuang’s The Dragon Republic, in which Rin’s humanity is called into question due to her ethnicity and religious beliefs. It is a powerful, yet depressingly familiar tale that is not to be missed. 

“But I’ve seen how power works… 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.”

When we last left Rin, she was reeling from the consequences of her actions that ended the Third Poppy War. After learning that a person of power sold her country out, she has made it her mission to lead her Cike team into removing this figurehead and taking vengeance on those responsible for the millions of Nikaran deaths. The Dragon Republic begins three months after the Third Poppy War has ended, and Rin and her team of gifted Cike companions are running assassination missions for a pirate smuggler. As payment, Rin would receive enough ships and supplies to make a run at their target. The situation doesn’t play out like it should, and now Rin finds herself conscripted to a new ally with dreams of turning Nikara into a democratic republic. Not a true democratic republic, of course – the only vote that the people get to decide is whether to join their new governors or die. (“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”) With allegiances constantly being tested and betrayals around every corner, Rin faces her greatest challenges yet in securing safety for herself and her people. 

With much of the world-building and mythology already in place, The Dragon Republic wastes no time in providing a laser-focused story that lasts the entirety of the book. It’s tough not to compare this sequel to the original, but I will say that the uneven tonal shifts of the first book have been rectified. This is a grim world, and its effects on Rin are ever-present. Remorse for her actions is non-existent, and she relies on anger to drown out any wandering thoughts. Her identity is entirely wrapped up in being a soldier. She does not know what to do with her life if she didn’t have a war to fight, so she clings on to the nearest rebellious cause without knowing the full history behind it. Her war is personal, not political; she’s driven by her thirst for revenge instead of considering the greater needs of those around her. Rin’s journey is one of self-discovery and purpose, and it is fascinating to witness.

“In the heat of battle, human life could be reduced to the barest mechanics of existence—arms and legs, mobility and vulnerability, vital points to be identified, isolated, and destroyed.”

This is a story of self-worth and determination, of finding value in life when your strengths are stripped away. It shines a light on some of the worst aspects of humanity which are sadly still reflective of our current society. It is a story of tragedy and loss, of anger and hypocrisy, of perseverance and triumph. Kuang excels at wreaking emotional havoc while delivering a powerful meditation on war and survival. It is a compelling follow-up to a landmark debut, so make sure you visit The Dragon Republic.
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Thank you HarperCollins / Harper Voyager via NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I really enjoyed The Poppy War and I'll just say that The Dragon Republic did not disappoint!
This entire book is nonstop action and we get see just how complex these characters can truly be and that's what I adored most about this book. This was an amazing follow up to The Poppy War.
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I ended up needing to live with my thoughts on this book for a moment after reading it. The book was incredibly powerful and I had so many emotions while reading it. I laughed, I teared up, I was angry, and I really enjoyed the entire journey. Even when I disagreed with what the characters were doing. But I disagreed because I felt so strongly about what was transpiring. 

Watching Rin struggle through grief and loss was difficult. It was so visceral. Her clouded mind and actions because of the opium when she was at her depths were hard. Seeing her evolve through this book and how opinions and actions changed in the face of knowledge was intriguing. There were some tough moments where I thought things were going one way. Then I found myself wanting to yell at the characters as I read in an airport or on a plane. 

I really enjoyed this book, even when I had to put it down for a moment to absorb what was going on. For fans of the first book in this series, this is a must read. It's an excellent continuation of the world and characters. If you're new to this series, grab The Poppy Wars first and prepare for all the feelings, excitement, and dread. It's worth it.
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Oh wow. Wow. R.F. Kuang is a fantastic storyteller. I admire her skills and the amount of work and research she has done for this book.

You know how sequels aren't always as good as its first? I thought The Poppy War was great, but this...this took great to a whole new different level.

The sequel brings us back to where it ended, the end of the Poppy War 3. Rin is looking for an escape, a relief from its aftermath and what she had done in the war. At the same time she couldn't just sit and wait for something to happen, especially not after what the Empress has done. Rin wants vengeance but she couldn't do it alone, not when she couldn't trust herself with her God. 

Enter the Dragon Republic. But of course this wasn't an easy collaboration. Priorities differ, self interests get in the way, loyalties tested, trust becomes an issue. Is everyone really in the same boat? Or not? Sorry, please forgive the pun. 

This is not as plot-driven as its predecessor, but more character focused, which I like because I enjoy getting to know my characters better. 

I can't help falling in love with the Cike. I want to keep them safe at all times but alas their little shaman hearts hunger for blood. 

And Kitay! I love Kitay. Please don't ever kill him off, Kuang! This is my plea to you! He is my child. Please do not break my heart. Please! 

And Rin, oh Rin! I enjoy getting to know Rin through the challenges she faces as a soldier, a commander and a friend. I felt her anger, her frustration, confusion, and vulnerability. Her loyalty, power and passion are her asset as well as her liability. She keeps falling and failing, yet she keeps going! I'm trying really hard not to say anything more so I won't give anything away. 

If you've read The Poppy War, and thought it was good, then you have got to read this! I got to know the characters better; love some, hate some, especially those who cloaked themselves so well in sheep's clothing. Smh for not having to noticed it, but that just goes to show what a great storyteller Huang is. 

This is a once-you-start-you-can't-stop kind of book. Be prepared for a wild ride and some jaw-dropping moments. Some parts made me gasped so loudly that my 2yo asked me, what's wrong mommy! 

Now, the agony of waiting for the final installment. Please don't make us wait too long, Kuang! I want to read more about Moag! I'm already liking her crew! And hi, Venka! Glad you're now on board too! Hope I didn't give away too much here.

Thank you Netgalley and Harper Voyager for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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This was an really good book. It picks up where The Poppy War left off. The characters were well written although Rin could be a bit angsty at times. Her struggle to lead the group and live up to Altan who she replaced is fraught with struggle and self discovery. She overcomes a lot. Lots of political intrigue and war. The setting was easy to put yourself into. You could really imagine yourself there. Overall a good second book.
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It took me a while to get back to reading this. I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, but I decided to give this a try. It was a lot more action-packed than the first one, but I am pretty tired of Rin getting blocks on her power that she has to work through. Sometimes you just want the hero to be heroic, and if you are always kneecapping her with mental blocks or an inability to figure out her powers or what have you it just isn't fun. Lots of interesting things happened to keep the story moving, but there were several cases of "well that showed up at just the right time" 
Overall not bad, better than the first book, but it still has issues.
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holy moly am i happy to be back in the land of shamans!

no spoilers, but i didn't get a shred of middle book syndrome. this really kept me pulled in and crying and angry and ecstatic KUANG HOW DO YOU DO IT???

the characters maintained all their individual appeal, and rin maintained a complicated, suffering, powerful god complex that i have come to obsess over. i am SO happy to have received this galley, as i don't think i could've waited until august, and am already dreading the wait for the final installment.
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Thank you to Harper Voyager and NetGalley for the chance to review this title. 

Let me preface this by saying if you have not read THE POPPY WAR yet and you're reading this review because you're my friend and just hanging out on Goodreads looking at your timeline, READ IT. It's the raw, exciting, heartwrenching fantasy you've been waiting for. 

Oh man, okay so this starts after the third Poppy War ends and Rin is teetering on the edge of sanity after what she'd done. Her addiction to opioids and past are dragging her down. She was the most annoying character ever at this early point, but I understood where she was coming from as a person of loss. She did some pretty effed up stuff and lost the person she more or less dedicated her existence. She wanted to be numb. Thanks to her friends, the Cike, and some unlikely allies, she finally gains control of the situation and her powers. Siding with the Dragon Warlord, she thrusts herself back into a war that may or may not tear her apart. 

Rin runs you through her introspection and her struggles, and it hurts. It hurts to be a spectator to her agony. Part of me wanted to shake her like a rag doll and tell her to buck up. I was lucky to have only read the first book a few months ago, so the plot was still new to me. I remembered every character. It wasn't only Rin dealing with her past, but also her school friend Kitay and frenemy, Nezha. Everyone has their pain, and some even wear it on the outside. These kids have been through the wringer, and it shows. 

Kuang's writing is flawless. It is what drew me into THE POPPY WAR, to begin with. Rin's sass and cursing saw me relating her more often than not. She's written a character with strength and flaws, that sees through her past, but not without a severe struggle. Enemies come at her from all sides, and trust is something that does not come easily to her. If you HAVE read TPW, you know you are in store for some gritty story-telling, and this one does not disappoint. It follows no rules, but it's own. There was next to no predictable moments. 

What I'm trying to convey is that I am so in love with these books, and I will follow Kuang's career until my dying day as long as she churns out books like these.
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All the words of wonder that I can think of at the moment would be censored if I actually wrote them down, since most of them are of the four letter variety, Sigh. Anyway, rarely does a second book surpass the first one (at least in my opinion) but wow... This was an action packed, roller coaster of an adventure. 

Would I recommend? F*** Yes! 
Advice: Read the first one beforehand, "The Poppy War."
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This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publishers and to Netgalley!!

I don't know how I'm supposed to write about this book because I spent the last ten percent of the book screaming and crying and am actually typing this with tears drying on my face. So much happens that I also don't know what to start with, or end with, or even think about. Every time I think about something that happens in this book, I either get incredibly upset or start laughing because that's the only way I can deal with what happens in this book! Cool! 

The Dragon Republic, the sequel to one of my -- possibly, my favorite -- favorite books of 2018, had a lot to live up to. The Poppy War set the bar so incredibly high in its characters, world, and plot that I was worried this book wouldn't live up to it, but I'm very happy to say that it did, it does, and it broke my heart even more than the first one did. R.F. Kuang proved she could write about war and its atrocities in the first book; she proves she can write its aftermath and its shockwaves in this book. I'll have a more in-depth review when the book is released, but for now, I'll talk about a few things:

1. I love these characters. I love Rin so, so, so much. She is so complicated and so real and so full of mistakes.

2. The internal work Kuang does here is so captivating and difficult and I thought it was one of the best parts of the book. Rin has suffered and done so much and Kuang doesn't forget that, doesn't let her brush it away, doesn't pretend it didn't happen just for an easier narrative or so she can move onto the next plot point. More than anything, I think this is the most admirable aspect of the book. 

3. But the plot doesn't suffer! It does have a pacing issue not unlike The Poppy War, but I don't mind it because I think what happens was necessary to inform everything that happens in relation and in reaction to each other. I don't know. I understand the pacing point, but I would also read more, more, more of this if I could. (Sorry I keep reading "what happens" so much. It's hard to be vague about this when all I want to do is scream about it in detail.)

4. I cannot stress this enough: R.F. Kuang is a Chinese author writing about Chinese people!!! She understands!!! SHE GETS IT!!!!!!!!!!!

5. The twists in this... lol.... you guys.... you don't even know.

And now I'm going to go hide in a cave and, like, only think about this book, I guess???? COOL??? THANKS, R.F. KUANG!
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I LOVED the Poppy War, the first in this series.  I was so excited to get an early copy of this one to check out.  It wasn't as good as the first one, but still infinitely fascinating..  A lot more focused on military strategy and fighting, less on the interpersonal relationships of the characters.  The only relationship that was remotely interesting was Kitay and Rin.  I could've had a whole book of just them and would have been happy.  The book picks up in the final third of the book, and then I couldn't put it down.  So still a great book, but not as good as the first one.
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Thank you NetGalley and Publisher for this early copy!

I was over the moon happy when I was gifted this arc by the publisher! It made me finally read The Poppy War and find a new high Fantasy series that I love. Rin is complex character that I liked reading about. 

I found that I enjoyed book two even more than the first one. The world building was even better in the second one. I would have liked more magic but we did get quite a bit of it in the last half. I will be reading more from this author in the future and I cannot wait to find out what happens in book three. 

I will be posting a full review closer to release date.
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