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The Poppy War

By R. F. Kuang
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year [...] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.” -- Booknest

A Library Journal, Paste Magazine, Vulture, BookBub, and ENTROPY Best Books pick!

Washington Post "5 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel" pick!

A Bustle "30 Best Fiction Books" pick!

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.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

1025 Reviews

Surprised Face with Open Mouth“I like that this app lets you give a book 0.5 stars one way or another. Because I loved this book but it wasn’t quite 5/5 stars for me. And I think the main reason for that is I can really only handle reading this story the one time. It’s heavy and gory and violent and makes you think.”
Diverse charactersMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenFast-pacedUnpredictableImmersive settingDarkThought-provokingSexual assaultViolence
Anxious Face with sweat“Went into this excited because of the praise people gave it - By the end I was having to force myself to read and literally counting down the pages to the end 😭 Characters aren't likeable, Kuang has a habit of not developing or explaining character points, MC constantly making decisions that are just stupid REPETITIVELY - Honestly just do your research INTO the book and what people have to say about it, don't just listen to hype/sheep opinions - Form one for yourself”
Couldn't connect with charactersMorally ambiguousMulti-layered charactersRepetitiveAngstyBad writingCharacters kept making same mistakesInconsistentObstacles overcome too easilyUnengaging characters
Surprised Face with Open Mouth“I liked this book a lot! After finishing, I realized the middle sucked me in the most because I loved Jiang the best. I found myself disliking Rin as she strayed farther and farther from Jiang. I’m hoping for more Jiang content in the sequel!”
Colorful personalitiesMorally ambiguousEasy to readTwistyBeautiful settingImmersive setting
Surprised Face with Open Mouth“This book started a bit slow for me and felt predictable but about half way through it picks up pace and I could not put it down!! Some chapters have graphic descriptions of assault, violence are torture - so please be aware! I am ready to read the next book in the trilogy. The only reason I am not giving this 5 stars - I felt a bit disconnected between the first half and second half. The author could have done a better job making us feel empathy as some characters from the first half die.”
Multi-layered charactersBeautifully writtenHeartbreakingHauntingWell-researchedAngstyAbuseSexual assaultViolence
Thumbs Up“I was honestly underwhelmed by this book given the hype around it. It felt like we jumped forward a lot and didn’t really get to connect with the main character which made the little bit of growth she had feel lack luster and out of left field. She went from hating people to being their best friends with really nothing in between to account for the change of heart. I felt no connection to characters so didn’t feel much when the were killed off.”
Heroic figuresMorally ambiguousComplexMind-bendingImmersive settingMagical setting

About R. F. Kuang

Rebecca F. Kuang is the #1 New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Poppy War trilogy, Babel: An Arcane History, and Yellowface. Her work has won the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, and British Book Awards. A Marshall Scholar, she has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford. She is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale, where she studies diaspora, contemporary Sinophone literature, and Asian American literature.

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