Author: R.F. Kuang
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Audiobook Length: 23 hours 47 minutes
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.
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
The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.
After the insane ending of The Poppy War, I immediately moved on to The Dragon Republic. As this series is continuous, it is highly advised that you read the first before moving on to this novel. Since this is the follow-up novel, there are some spoilers mentioned from the first novel. Although I might spoil some things from the first novel to describe, thoughts and events from the second, I tried to avoid any spoilers from this novel. As with the first, it is best for the reader to be aware that this series is intense and does not shy away from difficult darker topics, such as rape and death.
The Poppy War has ended in the nation of Nikan, but the battles are far from over and there are still many dangers. Our main character, Rin, a warrior and shaman, is now on the run from the Empress. She has become fully addicted to Opium that helps her cope with her powers and her past. She has the vengeful god, the Phoenix, to deal with, even if she does not want to at the time. Her mental state is in a very dark place, while she knows she needs to assemble a plan to win the next battle.
Rin finds that her next step needs to be joining forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord. As she grapples with a lot of tragedy from her recent past, her love/hate relationship with the Phoenix power, and her internal/mental struggles, Rin is trying to find a way to save her nation. The story follows her mental and physical journey. As with the first novel, there are many battles where it is dark and heart breaking. All the characters continue to be complex where they are very flawed, but are still realistic.
At first, I did not emotionally connect to this story as I felt that I knew things were not going to end well, for the most part. The story continued to be dark with some “happier” brief moments throughout. The ending is what truly gets to the reader, as it is more emotional than I expected. Although I am not sure I am emotionally ready for the intense ending, I will definitely start The Burning God right away. I have a prediction to how this will all end, as there is only one possible ending in my mind, but I will have to read it to find out.
Overall, the world building in this story continues to be amazing. Everything is described in a very realistic manner, where it almost plays out like a history book and could be real. I loved this author’s writing as the actual history and fiction continue to be well blended. As I did the audiobook for this novel, Emily continues to give an amazing performance! This novel did not suffer the usual second novel slump and instead just continued to be great. It is an incredibly multi-layered story with complex characters led by an excellent antihero. Rin is unpredictable and I loved it as I have my own guesses, but the story could easily change any direction to show me I am wrong. Again, I loved the first one, loved this one, and I cannot wait to, I am sure, love the final one!