The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang Book Review
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The Third Poppy War may have ended, but the Dragon Warlord still seeks to conquer the land. Adrift and on the run with her Cike, Rin is swept up into the Warlord’s plan. Start a civil war and from the ashes create a new democratic Republic. But Empress Daji will never give up her hold. Honed for war, Rin jumps to the cause and with her Phoenix God aims to end Daji’s rule once and for all.
The Dragon Republic is a brutal tale of war and how it touches the lives of everyone forced to be a part of it. The devastation wrought by the character’s previous choices in The Poppy War will be exposed in this second novel. R.F. Kuang broadens the reader's awareness of the famine and destruction causing thousands to become refugees. And as the characters witness the results of their actions, the mental battle begins as they come to terms with what they have done. Or, some simply turn to addiction to seal away the emotions, refusing to confront what has occurred.
Throughout the novel, Rin is at war with herself. Torn between doing what she believes is her purpose, and dealing with the aftershocks. A snap decision on the field of battle may secure a victory, but what happens after the dust has settled and the bodies lay festering? The Dragon Republic shows how a girl raised to believe she is a tool to be used, can turn into one of the deadliest soldiers. And how the conflicting emotions of choices made in the heat of battle can haunt a person long after the battle has ended.
Rin is an unlikeable character. Oftentimes she is both selfish and self-destructive. Instead of facing her problems, she charges ahead, keeping her mind busy with war and who will be her next target. It is easier to be angry and strike out at those around her versus owning up to her past mistakes. But at the same time, R.F. Kuang uses Rin’s moments of weakness to show how she became such a detrimental character.
This grimdark military fantasy will spare no one. Be prepared to dive into the darkest depths of war, and all the chaotic and tangled relationships that come along with it. Choosing a side isn’t so easy when friends are on the opposite one. But war is war, and Rin will live up to her full potential as a deadly shaman no matter the costs.
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