Publisher: HarperVoyager UK
Publication Date: 08/08/2019
Length: 658 pages
CW: sexual assault, violence, drug use
In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.GoodReads
With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.
But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.
As soon as I finished The Poppy War I immediately bought The Dragon Republic. I wanted to hold off reading it just so I wouldn’t have a long, agonising, wait for the final instalment of the series, The Burning God. However, since finishing The Dragon Republic the fact I didn’t have a copy of The Burning God sitting on my shelf was still an agonising wait – even though it was on the way!
It was great being back in this world with a lot of the characters that I loved from the first book. However, whilst the characters were the same ones from The Poppy War, you could clearly see how events from the first novel had changed and developed a lot of the characters. A lot of the novel is focused on the struggles that Rin is facing, both through her own actions of the previous novel and with her shaman powers. I really liked seeing this side of Rin and how Kuang built upon the fact that Rin isn’t a flawless YA protagonist, that she does make mistakes and she isn’t always sure she’s making the right decisions. In fact, she regularly makes selfish decisions which has her friends questioning her. Speaking of, I loved seeing how her relationships with Nezha and Kitay had changed since the first novel and how they continued to change throughout the novel.
As well as the returning characters, we also meet a lot of new characters, including new races of people of the Hesperians and the Ketreyids.I really enjoyed how, not only did this introduce new conflicts between people, but also continued to build on the world the novel is set in and make it feel even more like a real place and real events and illustrates the scale of what is going on and who is affected by the actions of these wars.
Whilst a lot of the plot surrounds the political landscape of the Republic and the civil war, there is also a focus on character development and individual backstories. I really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t completely clear whose side was right with all of the conflicting information being thrown at you. There are many moments that you doubt Rin’s allies or motives and she does herself, too. Although this is a very meaty novel, of nearly 700 pages, I found that they just flew by. The pacing of the novel makes it even more a joy to read as it easily absorbs you and keeps you hooked and keeps the plot feeling fresh.
This novel is an absolute must if you have read The Poppy War and the entire series is a must read for any fantasy or YA fan! It will certainly build your excitement for the final novel, The Burning God – and it will make you a little nervous too!
If you want to learn more about the parallels The Poppy War series draws from East Asian history, Read by Tiffany wrote a brilliantly detailed blog post going through all the ways The Poppy War series can be read – which I highly recommend you check out!