The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang | Book Review
Updated: Mar 20, 2021
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Enrolling in Sineguard academy is only the beginning of Rin’s new life. She will learn that being a peasant amid high born military children is a new challenge she must overcome. She will have to prove herself among her peers, and overcome the derogatory comments whispered behind her back. As she battles her way through the slander and harsh treatment, Rin will discover a dark power locked within herself. A power that could easily burn all those around her if it isn’t kept in check. But power is something Rin has always wanted because it means she can destroy those she hates.
Rin as a character surprised me. Her blunt attitude and dialogue threw me what I first started reading. I expected a girl who had to build herself into a strong willed independent woman as most young protagonists are. Instead, Rin started off capable and willing to do what she had to. No matter who tried to bring her down, she was prepared to swing back and defend herself.
The Poppy War focuses on the atrocities that are committed during war. The plot progresses rather quickly, sometimes months at a time to push Rin and her companions into situations formed from long days waiting for enemies to attack. While there is a purpose to the shifting time, it also takes away the ability to see the characters progressively develop. There were times when Rin announced how she felt about different characters and it was more telling than showing how she felt. However, where the relationships between characters may not have been believable the bitter realities R.F. Kuang created in multiple scenes made all the difference.
The Poppy War is a book for those who enjoy history as much as they enjoy reading fantasy. Politics play a key role in the progression of the war. However, make sure you are prepared for the grisly details. The cruelties witnessed by Rin and her fellow soldiers turned my stomach but also were a wake up call to what could happen during times of war. It’s not honorable battles where the heroes always win. I am interested in seeing what will happen in the next book, and how Rin will overcome her new challenges.
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