Cover Image: The Dragon Republic

The Dragon Republic

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This story was absolutely epic! It picks up where The Poppy War left off. It truly left me speechless.
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I'M GOING TO HYPERVENTILATE!

I'll be honest, sequels scare the fork out of me. I always go into them wondering "Who are these people!?" because I just can't for the life of me keep day to day life and 100+ books vivid in my memory but you know what! I HAD NO PROBLEM GETTING MYSELF BACK INTO THIS STORY.

The Dragon Republic is the second book to the highly praised The Poppy War, but the fans of the previous book don’t need to worry about stumbling into the infamous middle book syndrome here. The Dragon Republic surpassed the previous book’s quality. YUP I SAID IT.  Following the catastrophic conclusion of the first book, The Dragon Republic plunges Rin and her companions into a brand new war. This book is a different kind of book from its predecessor; it’s much more character-driven. Kuang offers an even more deep exploration of Rin's character and it makes the storyline feel more intimate. More importantly, this storytelling style shows Kuang's greatest writing strength as an author - her characterizations. The differences in the cultures and environments of the provinces citizens enhanced the originality of world-building as well as characters’ motivations. 

The action sequences that Kuang put upon the pages of this book was bloody, visceral, and impactful in grabbing my attention. Both the arcane magic and the divine power unleashed in full force during this book were superbly written, creating one memorably vivid and exhilarating conclusion.

Get on this series as soon as you can. I’m already confident enough to say that The Dragon Republic is another success story in the making.
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If the Poppy War wasn't already amazing enough, the Dragon Republic convinces me without a doubt of R.F. Kuang's genius. At the end of the Poppy War, Rin is a mess. She's beyond devastated at the loss of Altan, but also ragingly addicted to opium and unable to control her powers and emotions. The first couple chapters of Dragon Kingdom show her in this same light, and frankly sometimes my jaw would drop at how cold and ruthless she was. I think Kuang delicately crafted a very real look at both addiction, and the grieving process and when you put them together in the same person-it can be disastrous. What I like about Rin is that she is a character with flaws-Kuang doesn't sugarcoat our main character. 
Altan is a very common recurring motif in this one, as it takes RIn all throughout the book to finally, finally get over him and his impact in her life. One of my favorite parts was when she had his trident(his preferred weapon) melted down into a sword(her preferred weapon) after forcing herself to use it to be more like him or honor his memory-kind of like a big "f you" to his negative influence and hold on her and a symbol of her finally being able to stand on her own and hold her own.
Nezha was one of the characters I enjoyed reading about the most in this book, which only makes the ending more like a stab in the back. His struggle to get approval from his dad, not to be overshadowed by his brother...all very well done. A lot of moments in this book he provides a nice balance between Rin and Kitay.
Overall this book was beautifully done, I loved the interpersonal relationships with the characters as well as within Rin herself. There are a lot of military strategizing scenes throughout the book-actually they make up most of the book! Again, I was blown away by how thoughtful and masterfully Kuang thought through all these details. As a reader, it can feel heavy and a lot to take in and that's kind of what made this book a slower read for me.
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“‘I used to be scared of war,’ she said finally. ‘Then I realized I was very good at it.’”

Rin was an absolute hot mess in the beginning of the book and I love Kuang for that. Rin is SUPPOSED to be a hot mess after everything she has gone through and the trials ahead. She is addicted to opium, the Phoenix is playing pinball with her psyche, and she is still reeling from the war and losing Atlan-the man she was beginning to associate with family.
I felt so bad for her as she struggled with her addiction and her guilt for her brutality, the author does not pull any punches when it came to the truth about addiction and how it not only affects you but the people around you. The Cike begin to lose faith in her and so does she. 
But when Nezha appears and brings her along to his father’s army to stop the Empress, she begins to have faith in herself again.
Rin looks to the Dragon Warlord as a father figure/mentor/teacher and it made me realize how deep Rin’s desire for a family really is. She craves the Warlord’s attention and aims to please him as she struggles to gain her momentum after her addiction.
A lot of old faces are reintroduced and it was almost bittersweet to see how much the war has changed the once spry students we were first introduced to.

Nezha
With Nezha, we see the once rivals become the most surprising of friends.
“Why was it that whenever she looked at Nezha, she wanted either kill him or kiss him? He made her either furious or deliriously happy. The one thing he did not make her feel was secure.”
I absolutely loved their friendship. I was honestly surprised to see how loving and patience he was with Rin. We later learn why and how Nezha can relate to her struggles with her god and powers but wow, did not see sparks of tension and romance in their future.
And the ending!! His betrayal!! Ahhhh, Rin/Nezha, fire/water, it will be epic.

Altan
“Fuck Altan, fuck his legacy, and fuck his trident. It was time she started using a weapon that would keep her alive.”
Altan and his presence continues to linger in this book, actually, his very ghost is threaded into each chapter. Rin struggles to carry the mantle of his legacy and as the last Speerly (that we know of), Rin is more unsure of herself than ever. In the first book, I was as swept up by Altan as anyone-his bravery, strength, ferocity, and my heart tore as we learned about his addiction, rage, and the times he spent getting experimented on. But in this book, Rin learns how to disassociate herself from Altan and strive to be better than him.

Eugenics
Eugenics and racism plays a biggg factor in this book. We are introduced to the people in the west called the Sinegardians. I can only imagine the author used Americans and or Europeans as the example of this big, blonde, blue-eyed race of people. The view Rin and her people as beneath them, nothing more than an inferior race. The use their different skin tone, eye shape, and brain sizes to fuel their hateful beliefs. This reminded me of the Eugenics movement in early American where scientist classified different types of “races” and how white people were more superior because it backed by science (eye roll). 
And it was so upsetting to watch as Rin was literally stripped of her humanity from these people who want to study her. And because she is a Speerly, she was considered even less.
I knew that once the Sinegardians became more vocal about how they viewed the Kitarians that we were a threat and not an ally so I am looking forward for the next book where Rin takes her revenge. 

Overall
I loved the politics, the military tactics, the reoccurring characters, the slow build, the patient story telling as we get deeper and deeper into the Third Poppy War. I loved Rin in the first book and now I can’t wait to see her progress as she kicks some more ass in the last book.
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Another great book, the second is just as good and riveting as the first book, keeps you turning those pages, great writing.
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What a fantastic continuation of The Poppy War! I love RF Hoang's writing style and can't wait for her next release!!!
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The Dragon Republic is synonymous to legendary. Every character leaps off the page and dances in your imagination. The devastatingly beautiful descriptions and vivid world whisked me away. Beware that this will not be a light read. The book is packed with honesty and brutality. I eagerly await the third installment,
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I might have to sit on this for a while, but I'm wiggling between 3.5 and 4 stars. The writing is incredible, the world building gets richer and richer, and the characters are deep and complex. But every time I put it down, it was difficult to pick back up. There were many chapters that were difficult to read because either it was a lot of war strategy or brutal war scenes, which isn't exactly out of the blue, the first book had plenty of this as well., but I wonder if I was in a bad head space to read such a dark story these past few weeks. I also think I struggled because the characters just hurled tons of terrible, abusive insults at each other- often not in good fun- and sometimes it wore on me. There was also a character death that I 10000% disagreed with and disliked. However! Kuang has certainly matured in her craft, that is indisputable. The last act twist was juicy, and I'll definitely be tuning in to the third book in the trilogy. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the eARC!
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Thank you so much for the opportunity to review this! I appreciate it very much!

Unfortunately, this just did not grip me and pull me in the way that The Poppy War did. I am always wary of sequels, but I go in with an open mind regardless. This just didn`t have the same magic to it; it lost its spark. 

I found myself picking it up and putting down a lot. I didnt care to jump back in when I wasn't reading it.

I wound up dnfing at the 30% mark because I just couldn't keep going. 

I am always sad leaving a less than stellar review when the book just wasn't one I enjoyed or cared for, it is almost easier to leave a negative review than a mediocre not for me one. I dropped the star rating to two stars because of my personal lack of connection to it.

I couldn't connect with the characters again. There was a huge disconnect for me and I don't know precisely why that was.

I adored Rin in book one but just did not care about her at all in book two, which was a problem since she was still the main character. Sigh.

Yet, this might resonate with you and you might think it is amazing!  It just didn't feel that way to me and I couldn't force myself to slog , slog, slog through it anymore.
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There was just no way I was going to enjoy this book.

I loved The Poppy War so much. In fact, it left me in a month-long reading slump—all I wanted was more The Poppy War and nothing else could scratch that itch. It was miserable in the most delicious way.

Of course, my hype for The Dragon Republic was outrageous, so extreme that I knew no author could deliver. Though I was thrilled at the idea of a sequel, I was pre-disappointed. Kuang couldn’t strike twice like that.

To make matters worse, I received this galley in the middle of a reread of all seven Harry Potter books. There’s no book slump like the slump after Harry, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist The Dragon Republic long enough after my reread to give it a fair, clean shot. I was gonna hate The Dragon Republic, because I finished Deathly Hallows on a Friday night and started The Dragon Republic on Saturday morning, knowing in my heart that it was a massive mistake.

And then I finished The Dragon Republic right before midnight that same day because Kuang is an absolute monster of a storyteller and she delivered again. I’m in shock—that Kuang could overpower Harry Potter (HARRY! POTTER!) so effortlessly, because now I’m like, Harry who? Who cares about that dweeb? Not me! And somehow The Dragon Republic lives up to The Poppy War. How did Kuang do it? I feel like I’ve just experienced a reading miracle.

In fact, I think The Poppy War trilogy is the series that adult HP fans have been waiting for. It hits all the same rushing highs and delightful lows, with similar themes and character relationships, but Kuang finds new, fresh notes that make my soul sing.

So begins my next great book slump. This one will be the worst yet—I’m not going to get over The Dragon Republic for a long time.
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I almost gave this three stars, but I couldn't lie to myself. I devoured this book. While it's not the absolute revelation that The Poppy War was, The Dragon Republic is still a well-paced, action-packed fantasy that I have been looking forward to since I finished the first book.

My only complaints were that a lot of moments felt very fan service-y, and that Rin and Nezha's relationship is incredibly frustrating. While their friendship feels natural, I don't know if I believe that they could potentially have a romantic one. Certainly, I can see Nezha believing they could. But if I had to read about another instance of them love/hating each other, I was going to lose my mind. 

The real scene stealer here is Su Daji. I can't wait for her to turn up again. She's probably one of Kuang's most compelling characters, simply based on the mythology built up around her. 

Anyway, this book hasn't even been officially released yet and I am already anxious for the third.
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This sequel was everything I wanted and so much more. I enjoyed The Poppy War a lot when I read it last year, but The Dragon Republic took the story to a whole other level. I'm confident in saying that the sequel is even better than the first book.

Kuang's writing style is captivating. I could not put this book down. I'm absolutely in love with the magic system, the plot, the characters, the relationships. Rin especially grows so much. I love that she's not a bland, interchangeable heroine. She's fierce and strong and kind, and sometimes behaving stupid and rash and cruel. She has flaws and she has weaknesses. There are so many aspects to her and I'm so happy that Kuang created such a well-rounded protagonist for these novels. Kitay and Nezha had such an amazing journey in this as well. I can't wait to see what's in store for them in the next book.

The book does not shy away from violence. This is war, and it's not sugar-coated. I may never eat dumplings again.
The stakes in this almost feel like A Game of Thrones. Nobody's truly safe. Characters die all the time, often gruesomely. And all those that do survive, suffer tremendously. It's full of political intrigue - which I enjoyed SO MUCH. I constantly had to suspect practically everyone of betrayal at one point or another. The book was filled with conflict and arguments and fights and backstabbing, and it just didn't make you feel safe. And I love it for it, because The Dragon Republic was never, not once, boring.
It made me want to pull my hair out, made me cry quite a lot, made me squeal with excitement, had me scared and angry and basically let me feel every emotion possible.
This may feel like I'm overexaggerating, but I'm truly not. It was this good. Definitely one of hightlights of 2019 so far.
And that ending practically ripped out my heart, set fire to it and stomped on it a few times for good measure.

Thanks so much to the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! That ending! DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!

This will be a short review. I'm not going to spoil anything but you can skim over some of the quotes as you might consider them as a spoiler.

The Dragon Republic starts out with a bang; right out of the gates as I like to say. Rin is messed the hell up! She's fighting Opium addiction and trying to control her power. I had so many moments that I felt for her, so many moments I wanted to strangle her for being so stupid and childish. But most of all, I loved watching her grow in this book. Rin went through some sh•t people. Not just Rin but her whole crew; whom I adored.

Trying to seek revenge on your enemies while fighting an opium addiction seemed damn near impossible and you could feel every moment with Rin. (at least I did) And trying to fight losing control of your powers.

    This is what the balance of power looked like now. People like her waved a hand and millions were crushed within the confines of some elemental disaster, flung off the chessboard of the world like irrelevant pieces. People like her-shamans, all of them-were like children stomping around over entire cities as if they were mud castles, glass houses, fungible entities that could be targeted and demolished.

    •••••

    Once upon a time at Sinegard, back when Master Jiang had been trying to help her shut her mind to the Phoenix, he'd taught her techniques to clear her thoughts and disappear into a void that imitated nonexistence. He'd taught her how to think like she was dead.

    •••••

    Suni rubbed circles on her back while she spat blood-speckled phlem on the planks. When she was done, he smoothed her vomit-covered hair out of her eyes as she sucked in air in great, racking sobs.

    "You're so strong," he said. "Whatever you're seeing, whatever you're feeling, it's not as strong as you are." 



Rin has some wonderful friends but a world that is trying to tear her apart from the inside out.



Rin and her crew are trying to take down the evil Empress but they are getting swindled left and right. They end up with the Dragon Warlord trying to fight against others. People are killed, used, abused. Rin is lied to and watches innocent people die; watches people that she knows die. It seems like nothing is ever going to get better. BUT. There just might be a spark of hope in people she didn't even consider. There are things brewing. Will Rin and her people be able to bring the world down around the evilness. Wait and see.

    Finally, spoke the Phoenix. The god's voice was dimmed by the Seal, but Rin could hear clearly every ring of its laughter. My darling little Speerly. At last we agree.

    •••••

    "They're are not the strongest force in the world," Rin said. She felt the god's presence in the back of her mind-eager, delighted, and at last perfectly aligned with her intentions.

    Together, spoke the Phoenix, we will burn down this world.

    She slammed down her fist against the table. "I am." 


I think these books are wonderful and the author nailed it in both books so far. For me, there was no second book syndrome. No holds barred, an incredible tale of hate, war and friendship.

***This is an uncorrected proof of the book and any quotes will be changed if they are not correct in the finished copy. I would like to thank Netgalley and the Publisher for a digital copy of this wonderful book for review.***

Mel ♥
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This was absolutely fucking incredible. R. F. Kuang just keeps getting better, and I'm so excited but terrified for the third one. This was such a great sequel, probably even better than the Poppy War. Pick up this series if you haven't, and if you can handle the content.
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If you did not read book number 1 "The Poppy War" you should read it before this one.
That book was a great read for me.
As for the  2nd book "The Dragon Republic" the story gets even better.
For all the fantasy readers, the book is packed with adventure, thrilling moments and soft "make me feel good" times between. It has simply everything.
I would strongly advise to read both books, but reading this book first  - you can still grasp the story and see what had happened here.
Strong 4.5 stars for me.
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