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The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

The Poppy War

by R. F. Kuang

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Poppy War (1)

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4122038,452 (3.88)34



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» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Yeah, it gets pretty dark! But the darkness is earned. The protagonist's journey is epic. The character writing is so good. I'm super curious what is going to happen in the next book! Also, there is one character who died who I suspect might come back in the next book. We'll see. L ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
“The Poppy War” is the first in a series of Fantasy Novels by R. F. Kuang. It has been nominated for the 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novel. In terms of the writing style, this is a very readable book. It is a Fantasy novel which draws from the history of China after World War II to shape the plot, but also draws from a much earlier period of Chinese history for the feel of the story.
The book is split into two parts, the first being the development of the main character, an orphan girl named Rin, whose goal is to escape her current life where she is treated like a slave by her adoptive family, and she has set her eyes on the military-based Sinegard Academy. In terms of fantasy stories, the overall premise is fairly common, but it is well written, and the reader becomes attached to the characters, and learns about the history of the Nikara Empire (where the story takes place), and the enemy nation of Mugen who has gone to war with Nikara in the past, and continues to be an antagonising force.
Part two is the inevitable war, the third Poppy War between Mugen and Nikara. The war comes in the second year of studies at the Sinegard Academy, and the characters are thrust into a bloody war filled with atrocities. This part of the book was still easy enough to read in terms of language, but it seemed to lack focus, with a lot of time and effort put into describing the horrible atrocities committed by the Mugen, and there are sections which develop relationships between characters, but never have a payoff – at least not in this book. During this section, as a reader, I lost sympathy with Rin and the way she was acting at times, which is never a good sign. Ultimately, a moral dilemma is setup by the detailed description of the horrors of the war, but frankly it felt like too much for the first novel of a series, and something which should have built up so that the reader would be able to identify more with those in the story. I think it will be rather difficult to have as significant an impact in the future books after this one.
Overall, it was a pretty good story, and I would read what comes next, but there were definite weaknesses as well. ( )
  dave_42 | Apr 10, 2019 |
This poor orphan girl wins place in elite military academy tale starts out well enough and then gets bogged down and completely blows credibility in a horrific war and reprisals of staggering (mid-20th century++) levels. And worse it gets tedious with no particular flavor or value. ( )
  quondame | Mar 18, 2019 |

*I imagined the school at Sinegard like across between Sungkyungkwan and the Cloud Recesses from Mo Dao Zhu Shi.

*I suspected Jiang was more what he showed to the world. And when the story of the Trifecta was narrated, then I had an inkling he was the Gatekeeper.

*If you think that this is a girl's story about her journey from a mere peasant, goes to a school against all odds, conquered those odds, and rise to her glory... then, you're wrong.

*At least, as far as this book goes.

*It's wonderfully written and I had throwback moments to when I was reading the Eon duology. It was that condensed, that nuanced, that powerful.

*And raw. Raaawww. No holds barred.

*I loved Part 1 where they were still students at Sinegard. But when the drums of war came, around Part 2, however, I was like hmmmm.

*The characters unfolded throughout the story.

*Rin came across as naive. She might've experienced battles, fights, torture, and suffering, but her thinking was still narrow; she only saw the tree and not the whole forest.


*The book is a cross between The Young Elites, Eon, and a book/TV series I've read/watched that I could not pinpoint. But yes, The Young Elites + Eon.

Full review to come. ( )
  Ayanami_Faerudo | Jan 31, 2019 |
Opium is an undercurrent of the Nikara empire. The war with the Federation of Mugen brought it to these shores and only the powers of the Trifecta, the Vipress; The Dragon Emperor and the Gatekeeper who went to the gods and begged for power, have kept the Mugen Federation at bay.

The Dragon Emperor is dead, decades later, the Gatekeeper is missing and the Vipress sits on the throne and the Mugen Federation is still a threat.

In this world war orphan Fang Runin finds herself having to make a choice. She can marry or she can fight for her right to be in the Military Academy in Sinegard. There she finds a lot of obstacles and powers she didn't realise existed. Powers that are officially forbidden.

There's a lot in here and a lot of things that you can see will have implications later in the series. It led to another bad decision book club moment where I kept "just reading to the end of a chapter" until I finished the book. There were a few moments where the bad decisions felt more plot driven than character driven but I'm sure this will be worked out in later books. It's going to be an interesting ride. There were interesting philosophical moments where the author was looking at belief and how magic and belief could be linked and how it could have implications when you didn't believe. The magic is very shamanistic in nature which is an interesting change.

I hope there's a more human side of the Mugen Federation in later books because so far they're very single-minded and not very nice. ( )
1 vote wyvernfriend | Jan 22, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
R. F. Kuangprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cherkas, LauraCopyeditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forbes, DominicCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
JUNGSHANCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A war orphan rises from her humble beginnings to become a powerful military commander, and perhaps her country's only hope for survival.

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