This review may contain minor spoilers for The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic.
Synopsis: The exciting end to The Poppy War trilogy, R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed, award-winning epic fantasy that combines the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating, enthralling effect.
After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead.
Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.
Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it? (Goodreads)
Publication Date: Nov 17th in the US, Nov 26th in the UK (Harper Voyager)
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Trigger Warnings: racism, colorism, genocide, abuse, trauma, sexual assault, cannibalism, graphic violence
The Burning God by R.F.Kuang is easily one of my top 3 books of the year. This series holds a very special place in my heart and I truly adore it so much. It gave me on my favourite literary characters of all time, Rin and she’s been my comfort character ever since I first read this series last year. I was confused on how to write this review because I wanted to talk about how beautifully crafted this book is and at the same time also just put 200 heart eyes emojis to express the love I feel for this series. So this post is kind of going to be a mix of both.
The Plot and Story
The Burning God picks up after the events of The Dragon Republic and right from page one there is an anticipation building because you know this is it and the feeling only increases as you read further and get lost in the beautiful world R.F.Kuang weaves with her words and world building.
I loved the way the story took place and it was so well done, detailed and completely enamors you. Every page gives you a feeling whether its tears, happiness or sadness and it invokes a feeling of reading an actual war which is playing in front of you. I loved how the author has taken all the themes and issues which this series deals with and makes it even more interesting and better and you can’t help and be impressed with it. I am not giving any kind of details because of spoilers so all I can say is that I loved the direction the plot took and it kept me hooked to it and at the same time made me want to read it slow and savor it. I really wish it was a little longer because I would’ve wanted to read some parts in more detail but I wouldn’t say it affected my love for it much. This book will make you cry so just be ready with tissues and comfort books because you are definitely going to need them for this finale.
This series has some of the most well-written and complex characters. Fang Runin aka the murder queen is a comfort character for so many of the readers. Rin’s journey from The Poppy War as the poor girl studying for the Keju so that she could make a better future for herself to The Burning God’s Rin who has gone through hell and worse will make you emotional. Rin has done so much wrong stuff which I hate and at the same time you can’t help but root for her because you know why she does what she does. She is intimidating, scary and a badass but also equally vulnerable and afraid filled with rage, determination, need for revenge and all these multiple shades of Rin are especially highlighted in The Burning God so well. Her character goes through so much and her decisions and actions will make you go through a myriad of emotions too. She’s a resilient person and her determination will forever remain iconic. I love her character and she will always remain a favourite.
Kitay is my favourite character. He is the resident nerd and strategist and the yin to Rin’s yang. They are platonic soulmates and their relationship warms my heart. Kitay’s character growth is so good but also the kind of growth where your worry for him grows with every book. Kitay’s character is also my favourite because there’s nothing remotely romantic about him and Rin. We don’t always get to read about such iconic platonic friendships and theirs is simply the best. Being Rin’s sanity controller is not an easy job and Kitay not only does it well but also truly loves Rin and this book proves that even more on how precious their bond is.
Nezha’s character has been one of the most complex and his character graph has the most ups and downs. Nezha was not my favourite character in the start but The Dragon Republic did make me like him and then..yeah. I think in this book also Nezha’s character remains complex and mysterious. He is definitely the most hated character in the fandom as he should be but at the same time I can’t help but also think about the kind of person he truly is. Nezha’s character is one which is questionably bad but also makes for a more detailed character analysis (maybe I will write about this someday)
I loved how Venka played a major part in The Burning God so for all the Venka fans, brace yourselves because she’s in this book being the amazing queen she is. The Burning God introduces new characters and brings back quite a few old characters giving the story the full circle it deserves. The author truly does a phenomenal job in wrapping up every characters’ story.
The World Building and Writing
This series has arguably one of the best world building I have ever read in a book and The Dragon Republic was so good that I thought that how can it get better than this, but dear readers, it gets so so much better. The Burning God is intricate in its details and beautifully crafted in its scenes. This series is inspired by actual Chinese history and the way R.F.Kuang toes the line between fiction and the reality aspect of the book is truly impressive. The depth in every scene and even in the writing is so amazing that some of my highlighted paragraphs just have the notes “wow” written with them. It is also really interesting where you read about the actual history from which the inspiration is taken and then the book and it makes you truly appreciate and understand the way it is written.
The writing in this book is splendid and I have highlighted atleast 90% of the book. I am so excited for the book to release so that I can tweet and talk about some of my favourite quotes and cry with everyone else over the beauty of the words. I am also really excited for my physical copy because the thought of annotating this book makes me so happy.
This series deals with a lot of heavy themes which the author handles beautifully. The themes of racism, war, genocide, imperialism, colonialism, sexual assault, abuse, trauma is dealt with so well. This book truly takes it to the next level. Every small scene or quote is so well done and the way the author has written about the military tactics and warfare and plans is so incredibly smart that 70% of me was just in awe of it while reading. You know that feeling of utter impressiveness mixed with awe, love, fear for your favourite characters and the feeling of never wanting to stop reading the book? The Burning God does all this and more. I can never stop talking about how incredibly well done every aspect of the book is. Reading this series has made me a life long fan of R.F.Kuang and her writing has only got more impressive with every book and The Burning God is just *chef’s kiss* mixed with *heart eyes emoji*.
The Burning God and The Poppy War series as a whole is an incredible series for me and I feel this is a series which should be a MUST READ (of course after considering all the trigger warnings). Its smart, awe-inpsiring, well-written with morally grey and complex characters you can’t help but root for and discusses so many important themes without any romanticization. I have read roughly 70 books this year but this book is one of the top 3 books and that should tell you just how truly amazing this book and this series are.
Honestly, even though this series makes me cry I am going to read it again once I get my copy of The Burning God because no matter how many times I read it it impresses me and makes me fall in love with it even more. This review is different from my normally structured reviews because there is so much I want to talk about this series but at the same time words fall short to express what it means to me. I want to write so much about how much every character means to me and how this series is one of the best books I have read in the recent years but I fear I might just write an essay instead of a review. Writing reviews for the final books is always bittersweet and this was no different.
Overall, The Burning God is a stunning finale to an incredible series and remains one of my all time favourite books. It deserves all the praises and love and if you haven’t read this series yet, I highly highly recommend it and I promise you’ll fall in love with the excellence of this series too.
Thank you to the author and publisher for providing me with an e-ARC of the book through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Have you read this series?
How excited are you for The Burning God? Tell me about it!!
I had co-hosted a readathon for the first two books in September and October and it was such a delight to discuss this book with so many readers. I also did an IG live with the author, R.F.Kuang talking everything about this series from the world building, the writing process to the characters. You can watch it here: