A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.
I normally include a Goodreads summary of the book, but the blurb for this book gives away SO much of the book, so I did not include it. I refuse to spoil this wonderful adventure for you.
Review: 5 Stars
This is the kind of book that reminds me why I love reading. The Poppy War is a fantasy novel with some of the best world building that I have ever seen. The entire story is so vividly told that I feel as if it was real. The characters feel like friends of mine as I was so emotionally invested in their lives and their stories. The Poppy War is high fantasy book that gave me everything I was looking for in a story and so much more.
“Supernatural is a word for anything that doesn’t fit your present understanding of the world. I need you to suspend your disbelief. I need you to simply accept that these things are possible.”
The characters are all developed incredibly well, without purely focusing on previous events and how they were shaped by them. Rin is determined, bold and patriotic. She worked so hard toward her goals that it got a little crazy, she could be single minded to a fault. She is almost too determine that sometimes it translated into stubbornness and pigheadedness. But her story is one that I can relate with. She had to work hard for everything that she got and even once she had it she was still met with adversity. Her perseverance was easy to admire and made her lovable as a character. A lot of times her decisions made me angry, but I still loved reading about her anyways.
She realized, too, that she felt about praise the way that addicts felt about opium. Each time she received a fresh infusion of flattery, she could think only about how to get more of it.
There were so many minor characters that I absolutely love. Kitay was funny and a loyal friend. Jiang was a quirky, yet wise professor and Altan was a bit mysterious, but a character that Rin looked up to. All the minor characters were introduced slowly enough that I didn’t get confused with who was who. The relationships between characters were cultivated over time and shared events, which helped me feel emotionally connected to them as well as strengthen their bonds with one another. I loved all of these characters, even the ones that I loved to hate were written well.
“We aren’t here to be sophisticated. We’re here to fuck people up.”
The plot of the story is not easy to sum up because The Poppy War takes place over a period of years and so many things happened. The pacing on the other hand, was steady throughout and fast at appropriate times. The story is built up slowly enough that the reader can understand the gravity of certain horrors that occur in the war. This book was riveting and emotional, horrible and hopeful, and determined and vengeful. After reading I really felt as I had walked this journey with Rin and I was left feeling like I needed to continue it with her.
Rin had given up the luxury of fear a long, long time ago. She had wanted to give up so many times. It would have been easier. It would have been painless.
The Poppy War is that amazing high fantasy book that I was looking for. Filled with characters that I am invested in and a plot that broke my heart, I did not want this story to end. The only complaint I have is that this book included the death of a dog and I hate reading about dying dogs even if it helps show the gravity of a situation. I am thrilled that I got a copy of The Dragon Republic because I can’t wait to continue reading Rin’s story. The only problem I have is trying to force myself to wait until closer to the publication date to read it.
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“You’re so young,” he said softly. “You have no idea.”