Cover Image: The Dragon Republic

The Dragon Republic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A searing follow up the The Poppy War! R.F Kuang's tale is gut-wrenching and beautiful in equal measure. It is easy to see why this series is making people sit up and pay attention.
Was this review helpful?
I've been wanting to read this book since finishing The Poppy War almost 2 years ago. I think I was scared to pick it up, both because it's MASSIVE and also because it deals with all of the heavy topics

In the first book we follow Rin who, despite her poor upbringing, manages to get into the most prestigious military school in the country. While there she learns to channel a type of magic linked with opiates and gods, the extent of which is further explored in this sequel 

This book is very heavy on the politics and the war strategy, which wouldn't usually sound exciting to me but Kuang's writing makes these discussions so interesting. I also loved the further discussions of religion, building on book one, including the religions of other regions and countries

Rin is such an interesting and frustrating character. Often you can see where she's coming from, but she makes such rash decisions that's it's difficult to fully support her. She's written so well, as such a flawed, furious, and complex character...it's exhausting seeing the world from her perspective and watching her make mistakes 

I'd recommend this series if you're looking for an epic war strategy and magic centred book set in an Asian-inspired fantasy world. I'm excited for the final book later this year 

TW: drug abuse/dependency, rape, war/graphic violence
Was this review helpful?
I wasn't sure whether I wanted to read "The Dragon Republic" because I didn't like "The Poppy Wars" all that much, but I'm definitely glad that I did.

This part in the series is far superior to the first installment and I loved the character development and conflicts throughout the novel. The story felt much better paced and planned than the first part and I can't wait for the final part in the series.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to HarperCollins UK and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. 

This is the second book in the series and a follow up to the sublime The Poppy War. What I really enjoy about this series is how mature it is. The author doesn’t treat her characters or readers like idiots, she takes risks and there is no simple black and white. Morally grey characters are my jam, so I really appreciate that as a reader.  

Rin is a complex, well-developed character. I didn’t always agree with her actions but that’s what I really like about these books. The other characters are well-written and it’s great to see some familiar faces return. 

The world-building in again excellent with a clever magic system and rich political and cultural context that doesn’t bog down the plot. 

It’s dark, and problematic stuff happens. Characters make dubious choices and do horrible things. If you like complex characters and sophisticated world-building, you will enjoy this series. The pacing isn't perhaps quite as good as in The Poppy War but overall, this is an excellent and satisfying sequel.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this. Almost as much as I enjoyed the first book. It took me a while to get into it, the pacing was definitely off just a bit more than in the Poppy War. But Ms. Kuang really went there. The world is really fleshed out. The magic system is solid. The characters are real, flaws and all. I'm very, very excited to see what's coming next.
Was this review helpful?
Well this was a ride. Following almost immediately on from the conclusion of The Poppy War, we find Rin adrift without any real idea of where to go and what to do. With devastation in her wake and guilt and grief waging a war within, Rin ends up aligning with an old school friend to start another war that will bring her the vengeance she craves. 

I adore Rin as a character, and I appreciated her personal development throughout the book. At the start of the novel she’s grieving for so many things - relationships, her loss of self and also warring with a god inside her. A god that wants to destroy and consume, growing stronger on her hate and need for revenge. She displays obvious elements of PTSD, and makes awful decisions sometimes as a result. She’s the epitome of a morally grey character that you root for, but also want to shake some sense into because of her poor choices. I appreciated that the novel takes the time to delve into the consequences of war and how it changes people. Friends suddenly become expendable and civilians are simply used for diversion tactics, and it was insightful to see how negative effects of war, which are so often overlooked in fantasy novels. 

I also loved Rin’s evolving relationship with both Kitay and Nezha. Kitay is so delightfully superior in intellect, with some truly laugh out loud moments early on involving his obsession with order and taxes, that he becomes a soundboard against Rin’s obvious chaos. She doesn’t think before she acts, whereas Kitay is the calming influence staying her hand. Nezha on the other hand is the ultimate confusing friend who could be more if it wasn’t for the fact there’s a war. I liked that there’s little to no romance in the plot - these characters have far more important things to be thinking about, and also they’ve seen very little of love in their war torn lives. Rin’s relationship with Nezha is often fraught and tension filled because of their differences, yet there’s always something drawing them back together. It was very well written and deeply compelling. 

The plot is highly political, with many descriptions of planning for war and all its intrigues and tactics. There’s also a lot more siege warfare, bringing in naval elements alongside shamanic plot points which expands of the previous novel but definitely felt less ‘magical’. My favourite moments were those in the Pantheon with the Gods arguing between themselves, but I found these scenes too few and far between. As a result the plot does get bogged down every now and again in the various talks about war, and expanding the world politics that it does slow the pace somewhat. However, I found myself so invested in these characters and this world that I didn’t mind. I also think it delivers several important messages that mirror true historical events in a really insightful way. 

I can’t wait for the conclusion for this epic, highly political and interesting fantasy series. Rin has well and truly stolen my heart and soul.
Was this review helpful?
Rin tries to deal with what she had done during the Poppy War while struggling with the Pheonix too, addiction to opiums, PTSD and regret, and anger and revenge mix in this story.

Also, I loved the return of Venka! She has gone through some serious shit and pulled through stronger. By the end of the book, she is probably my new favourite character. And the joins forces of her and Rin is just badass!

The story continues straight after the first book. The war is won, but a second war, an internal war approaches. Rin wants revenge for what happened to Altan but she does not have the resources to pull it off. At the same time, she struggles with the pain of the Pheonix, her addiction to opiums and her guilt. The cocktail is well mixed and spicy. 

I enjoyed the line of the story. I did see the ending coming and the direction she would take mainly because I really wanted that to happen lol. But I did not see a certain back-stabbing event happen...! And I was shipping them all along. I think I still do even though I don't see it happening. 

There were some events in the end which were really sad like with the Cike, but all in all this book was badass and not sad. Yes it's brutal and some of this brutality is sad, but in the end, I just felt empowered.

I like those small Asian details, and I always love these in books, like chopsticks, or dress codes, written language, curry and rice etc.

It's well written as this is the author's second book. I did find some of the description just a bit too short which made me re-read a sentence or paragraph and interfered with my flow.
Was this review helpful?
Another absolutely Brilliant book from R F Kuang!! I adored the first and jumped at the chance to read the second book early and I am SO glad I did. It was so easy to slide back into this world, to get back into the Characters lives. I can’t wait to see what happens next, this was SO much fun to dive into!!
Was this review helpful?
This book took me on such an adventure. I could not ask more from a book! Rin is a shaman who has an affinity for fire, in the last book she destroyed the federation, whilst also killing a lot of innocent people this book is the aftermath of that event. The ending had such a twist that I did not see coming, I liked this book even more than the first book, which does not often happen. I can not wait to read the next book in the series.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

The Poppy War is one of my favourite books this year so, suffice to say I was nervous going into this. However, after a mere two chapters in, my worry was unfounded and Kuang’s prose captivated me once again.

You thought The Poppy War was dark? The Dragon Republic is on a whole new level. Following the catastrophic conclusion of the first book, we’re reunited with Rin who is now riddled with guilt, regret and anger, all while struggling with opium-addiction. The highlight of this series is its rich, 20th-century Chinese history incorporated in an intricate world of gods and beasts. Kuang's portrayal of the political system, the magic, the military strategy is so well-executed. Full of darkness, tactics and shifting allegiances, she expands on her skilfully crafted world and continues to vividly depict the horrors of war.

This series’ crowning achievement is its characters. Rin’s drastic transformation from war orphan to a battle-hardened killer is incredible. Having honed her shamanic abilities, she is worlds apart from the meek girl we’re introduced to. Not only our protagonist but Kitay, Nezha and Co. are all just as nuanced and make morally grey decisions. War changes everyone indiscriminately, and no one came out of it unscathed. I also appreciate how this series isn’t drenched in romance. Rather, it’s an illustrious portrayal of war, friendship and sacrifice.

The only reason I’m docking half a star is due to the relentless war and violence. It’s not a fun book; it’s brutal and is comprised of many incidents which some readers may find distressing. Nonetheless, it is a rich depiction of what happens when two nations go to war. The final quarter of the novel especially, comprised of gruesome battle scenes and unanticipated plot twists, was breathtaking.

Overall, this series has not yet failed to leave me speechless. The book ended on a monumental cliff-hanger, laying out the pieces for what I can only anticipate will be an unforgettable conclusion of the series.
Was this review helpful?
A great continuation from Poppy War. It’s not often that books get better at they progress in the series but The Dragon Republic certainly does. 

There is a very different feel to the second book compared to the first. Poppy War put me in the mind of a brutal Harry Potter but The Dragon Republic is much more GOT. 

Rin gets a lot of evolutions as a character in this book. It is slow to start but I recommend you stick with it, you’ll thank yourself for it. 

My only criticism is this book broke my heart a little bit, but of course that was the point. I am looking forward to reading the next (and final?) book in the series.
Was this review helpful?
This book had an interesting premise. Unfortunately, in my opinion it was problematic and just not for me at this time.
Was this review helpful?
I adored the first book The Poppy War and this book did not disappoint at all, in fact I think it was even better than the first.  It was great t be back with Rin after all that happened in the first book I was so excited to see what was going to happen next for our heroine. This is an action packed book from the start, it is always interesting even at the heavier times in the book it never loses its magic, so well written. This is such an amazing book, I cannot recommend this enough, if you’ve read the poppy war you need to read this book.   If you haven’t read The Poppy War, why not, go read it now so you can enjoy the Dragon Republic straight after !

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/RRT7ITHBUA62W/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8
Was this review helpful?
I got on board the hype train for R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War when it came out last year and I banged that drum so hard and so loud because here was a protagonist who seriously wasn't afraid of making some really grim choices and having to live with them - no magical redemption at play. But the criticism levelled at the book was also fair: it can be quite slow, the school sections definitely won't appeal to everyone, and that the grim violence was 'a bit much' (which I think was the point). The Dragon Republic, I'm pleased to say, is so much better, so much more intense and much tighter in its plotting and execution.

Rin, following the searing events at the end of the first book, is hopeless and hopelessly addicted to opium. She spends her days in a haze of drugs and guilt, consumed by her actions and the blood staining her hands. After all, Rin is so very, very good at war and as a weapon, what other use could she have but to kill? However, the events of the Empire won't just pass her by and soon she is caught up in yet another conflict. Manipulated by the Dragon Warlord and desperate to atone for her sins (while still hating herself at every turn), Rin is pitted against her enemy, the Empress Su Daji. But as the book progresses, so much more of the world is unveiled: the nature of the shamans, the history of the Empire and its relationship with both Mugen and the Hesperians, the truth of the Trifecta and more. But more importantly, Rin faces the choices she has made, the horrors she has unleashed and the impact she has had on the world. After The Dragon Republic's searing ending, which left me reeling and full emotions and hollowed out, all at the same time, nothing will ever really be the same for Rin.

There is, once more, an inversion of tropes. Kuang does it again, just as masterfully as the first time. But where the first book spent a lot of its first half at Sinegard, playing to that idea of the school, the very Harry Potter-esque approach, this second book takes Rin on the road. Through this, we see more of the Empire, but we're also much more involved in the politics, and Kuang is adept at making us (dis)trust as much as Rin does (and sometimes more). The decisions that she takes now are layered with guilt and betrayal, poised between the need for redemption and the absolute truth of what she has done, what she is and what is expected of her. Rin doesn't really shed her villain cloak (and if you're familiar with the story of Mao, whom Rin parallels, you know where this is heading) and Kuang never really pushes for you to exonerate her characters; yes, they are weapons, yes their use is really in war, but underneath that persona is a human being and Rin's needs (for love, for validation, for help with her addiction) drive her every choice. The ending, the (view spoiler), all of them served to make me feel more empathy towards Rin while still fearing what she is poised to become.

Kuang once more tackles some deep and dark themes: human experimentation, the insidiousness of colonialism, the idea of 'benevolent rulers' who come to a country where they outright believe the population to be below them, the struggle between the old ways and the new, the idea of democracy (where, as Rin notes, stupid, mean people would get just as much of a say in the ruling of a country as the educated aristocratic elites). On the one hand, progress will come to the Empire, one way or another. But on the other, who should be the driver of that progress? The people of the Empire, from those like Nezha and Kitay and Venka, to those like Auntie Fang and Kesegi? The rulers, the aristocrats, the Dragon Warlords? Or indeed the Hesperians, foreigners who don't respect the traditions of the Nikara, who want to change and shape the country according to their beliefs and views, with complete disregard for what came before? There is no easy answer here and this is the entire point of The Dragon Republic: there are no real good guys and bad guys (a bit of a trite answer, it's true), because humans are much more complicated than they first appear and their desires and wants are entangled with their emotions and experiences; Rin chooses to be a weapon when no other choice is available to her, but had she not experienced the horrors of the Third Poppy War (like Nezha), would her decision have been different at all?

Unbelievably for a middle novel, The Dragon Republic didn't really feel like it flagged for me: there is so much to unpack, there are so many character interactions to savour (not just between Rin and others, but between all the secondary characters) and the actions scenes are some of the best that I've read in fantasy, the perfect balance between breath-taking and nail-biting. The other thing to note here is how unsafe everyone is: Kuang isn't afraid of breaking your heart and killing your favourites, but their deaths are never done for shock value. They feel organic, they feel shocking (because they are) and they feel, in a strange sense, earned. The grief that flows off Rin I could feel in my heart and my word did Kuang relish that. Because although I have never seen the horrors of war like her (let alone perpetrate most of them), I have known loss and I have known betrayal, as well as the morass of human emotion and relationships.

I know a lot of people struggled with The Poppy War, but if you can make it through the school sections, the rest of the series delivers with gusto and aplomb. This sequel left me reeling and I absolutely cannot wait for the conclusion to the trilogy and for Kuang to absolutely tear my heart into tiny little pieces and set them aflame.
Was this review helpful?
HOW TO READ THIS REVIEW:
Step one: ignore my rating (for reasons which will become clear).

Step two: read the book anyway.

WHY YOU SHOULD IGNORE MY RATING:
The only reason I couldn’t get into this book so much is because of my mood. I loved The Poppy War, so no one is more disappointed than I am about this turn of events. But I’ve been slogging through this book for two months, and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to care. The curse of the mood reader really hit this one.

And because I was in the wrong mood, things which I might have been better able to stand if I wanted to read it, got on my nerves and made me even less keen to read it. But also, these were things that I had clocked in book 1 as weaknesses, but they were okay then, because there were things happening and I didn’t have time to dwell on them.

Here, there’s less plot. It’s a 600+ page book, and there’s less plot. So, god if I don’t have time to think on what I don’t like. But, before I get into that, let me just say: if you like the characters and the writing and don’t mind as much exposition as this book has, and that’s enough to sustain you for 600 pages, you will like this book.

ACTUAL THINGS THAT I WAS MEH ABOUT:
One of the weaknesses I found with The Poppy War was the lack of character development. Yes, Kuang writes a very good steady descent into madness (Altan) or a good snapping point (Rin), but when it comes to other character developments, it’s lacking. Just think of how Nezha’s character arc went. He left Sinegard, still pretty much an antagonist to Rin, but the next time they see each other, he’s magically gone through all the requisite transformation to become a sort of friend. None of it’s on the page, we just have to trust it’s happened.

And, like I said, the amount of action in book 1 meant that I could overlook that. There was so much going on that it almost didn’t matter. I could find myself just going along with the story. But in this case, a good chunk of the book is just exposition. Pages upon pages of military strategy, and not a whole lot of carrying out that strategy. I genuinely feel like maybe a third of the book could have been cut down at the very least with less of that.

As such, the pacing felt very off. All that strategising and then the actual war, everything the book seems to have been building up to, ends within about 40 or 50 pages. It had been a slow trog up to this point, and then suddenly it’s all happening. An entire war, over in a single battle.

And then of course there’s a plot twist and I had to feel some kind of desire to know why.
Was this review helpful?
I received a free ebook version of this from Netgalley. Thankyou to both Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this! My review is still honest.

This was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year, and while it took me quite a while to finish and absorb, it was absolutely worth the wait! It was just as good as The Poppy War, with some excellent character development not only in Rin, but in our supporting characters. 
This author is not afraid to take risks in her writing, and as much as they might break a reader's heart and make us panic when things aren't how we expect them to be, it always works. She knows her story and her craft, and I can only applaud her skill! I loved where the plot went in this, I think it went well in terms of introducing new enemies and new allies, and how the lines between the two blur. It set up for book 3 incredibly well too-I need it in my hands now!
This is a book of war and gruesome, horrible things happening, so if you don't want to read about that, this is not the series for you! But if you love a dark, fantasy read that is well paced, well written and very, very exciting, look no further.
Was this review helpful?
“Fire and water looked so lovely together. It was a pity they destroyed each other by nature.”

This is the second instalment in The Poppy War series.

Before stepping into this book, I reread the first series instalment and it definitely impacted my enjoyment of this book. The events here correlate to those the first book closes with. Only a handful of weeks have passed but the action begins almost directly. It was really helpful to be caught up with the who's who and the what's what of the world as the political focus and density of plot, that slowly evolved over the course of The Poppy War, was initially prevalent here.

Where as much of the first book took place over the course of a few years of Rin's life, the timescale was far shorter here. With war ravaging the kingdom, this was the primary focus. Battle scenes, battle schematics, and battle strategies abound. Kuang's writing never let the pacing of the book get bogged down with this but, with the enemy so far away, a lot of this felt far lower in stakes and, therefore, tension. This remained still highly enjoyable, but I did not often feel my heart racing in quite the same way as it previously did.

The concluding third shifted focus back to Rin's personal struggles and the reader was provided with an insight into just how far her character had come, since the confused and angry girl from the Rooster Province that The Poppy War opened with. For better or for worse, Rin is now a very different figure. I still empathise with her just as much, and appreciated that Kuang gave her an emotional arc throughout this book. Rin is far softer, in places, but far more brutal in others. She is well-rounded but never perfect and stays a consistently authentic figure due to this.

I have no idea where Kuang and Rin will take the reader in book three, but I know I am 100% along for the ride regardless!
Was this review helpful?
The Dragon Republic is set when Rin has become a very powerful shamen, who channels the Phoenix god, who wants everything to burn.  She's addicted to opium, and feels like she has no control over her powers, or the whispers of the god.  

They are at war, and Rin's powers have proven themselves useful to the cause.  But Rin is now joining the Dragon Warlord, and wants to turn the Empire into a Republic, and kill the Empress who betrayed her country.

These are fantasy books, with characters addicted to drugs, who are trying to find their way through horrific acts, to find some kind of life. They are quite long books, each over 500 pages long, but they are telling a good story, and one that I want to know the end of!

The Poppy War was published on 1st May 2019,  and is available to buy on Amazon  and on Waterstones.  I've found a link to where you can search for local bookshops, including independent!

The Dragon Republic was published on 8th August 2019,  and is available to buy on Amazon  and on Waterstones.  I've found a link to where you can search for local bookshops, including independent!

You can follow R.F Kuang on Twitter, or through her website.

If you're interested in fantasy books with the same feel, then here's some others I've reviewed:

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Ragnarok Unwound by Kristin Jacques  🌟🌟🌟🌟

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I was given this book for free in return for an unbiased review, so my thanks to NetGalley and to HarperCollins (the publishers) for this book.

Check out my GoodReads profile to see more reviews!
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC. 

I was very excited to read this as I loved the first installment of this saga. And I wasn't disappointed. This book is mainly about war, what happens when you fight for too long and when you don't necessarily think about what you're fighting for. In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, Rin and the rest of Nikan have to try and pick themselves up and resume life, albeit after getting revenge on the Empress for her actions. Allying with another Warlord to gain democracy seems like a good idea but not all is as it seems...

I realy enjoyed this. Kuang is a great writer and her characters jump off the page. Rin is not necessarily likeable but always understandable. The twists and turns of the plot are also very exciting. I can't wait for the third (and presumably last!) book!
Was this review helpful?
Were back with rin and the gang. We've won the third poppy war, but Rin is determined to kill the empress who she thinks started it all. She makes an alliance with the dragon lord and they go to war.. again!
It was great to get back into this world, the writing is amazing and the complexity of the characters,   how they deal with the life of war, is amazingly thought out.
I liked this book, I did think it dragged a bit in the middle but over all a good second book.
Was this review helpful?