Book Review: The Burning God (the poppy war #3) by R.F Kuang // spoiler free

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Release Date: 17 November 2020
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult

• this is a spoiler free review of The Burning God, however there are spoilers of The Poppy War & The Dragon Republic discussed. Please don’t read this review if you haven’t read the first & second books •

This could be the end of their story or the beginning of a glorious chapter.

Betrayed, injured and mourning — Fang Runin returns to the south to join the Southern Coalition as they claim back the southern provinces and prepare to confront the Dragon Republic and the Hesperian colonizers.

Rin knows her allies aren’t trustworthy and in order to defeat Viasra and Nezha she needs the loyalty of her people to become their leader.

She will stop at no ends to defeat the Republic, use every weapon and every advantage available to her — even at the price of her own humanity.

“I didn’t come south to be someone’s pet again”

This book had a different feel to it. Knowing that it is the last installment and that the fate of Nikan is in such peril fills the reader with undeniable dread. You don’t know who to trust. Walking on tiptoes, peaking around corners waiting for the next hit to your heart.

I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I thought the middle section to be very draggy. I know, I know. This series has always been a slow paced one. And usually it didn’t bother me.


I think because I knew there would be no happy ending, I was filled with such a sense of foreboding, watching as Rin and the state of Nikan just kept on spiralling downwards. ((Anxiety inducing tbh))

I had to pep talk myself into continuing. I even put the book down for a couple of days to recharge my mind. But then I got back into it and just had to know how things would go down.

The politics, action scenes, military strategy and battles were my favourite. The Burning God features mainly siege and guerilla warfare tactics that I found highly interesting.

Anyone who has read this series can appreciate how well the author depicts the real cruelties of war, blends in real parts of history, doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff and does not romanticise it the way many authors do.

War didn’t end, not so cleanly—it just kept building up in little hurts that piled on one another until they exploded afresh into raw new wounds.

Rin travels a lot throughout this book which means we get to see even more of Nikan. From enchanting mountains and war torn, famine ravaged countrysides to modern cities – it was all so resplendent and graphic.

The new additions to the cast of characters were an interesting bunch. By now I’ve learnt my lesson and knew not to trust anybody. In this series everyone is out for themselves.

We’ve seen Rin go through so much hardships throughout this trilogy. You cannot deny that she has suffered and has a right to the rage she is filled with. After how things ended in The Dragon Republic, Rin has had to learn to become a leader. Something I really liked was that she wasn’t one of those ‘over-night leaders’ so often seen in fantasy. She didn’t just wake up one day with all the skills. She makes mistakes and she learns and despite not wanting to, listens to advice given to her.

“Do you know what your problem is?” Daji asked. “You’ve been fighting this entire war on the defensive. You’re still thinking like someone on the run. But it’s time you started thinking like a ruler.”

Even so, Rin has become alarmingly ruthless. She has traded her humanity for power. And there is no coming back from that.

Kitay, my pure child. He remains the light of this whole series.
His friendship with Rin brought me so much joy and the beauty of their bond was a contrast to the harsh, brutal situations they were surrounded with.

[…]trusted first Daji and then Vaisra, and they’d both sold her away without blinking. From now on Rin took charge of her own fate.

I have one word for the ending: traumatising.

Just thinking about this ending makes me want to howl in agony.
Since finishing this book I’ve been trying (in vain) to flush it out of my system with adorable and sickeningly cute reads. It hasn’t helped one bit. 

Even though I thought that some things still needed to be addressed (that’s one of the reasons my rating is 4 instead of a full 5) this was a spectacular conclusion to a series that will stay with me for years to come.

Ending it any differently would not have felt authentic to this story and because I’m a masochistic fool — I cannot wait to read it all over again 😊.

It’s not just about the enemy. It’s about what the world looks like after.

✨ Tiffany @ readbytiffany wrote an awesome post that was such a great read if you’re interested in what history and parts of Chinese culture this series is drawn from. ✨
CONTENT WARNINGS: violence & gore, murder, mutilation, animal abuse & killing, torture, cannibalism

Have you read this book yet?! Are you planning to read it? I’d love to know!

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