I was a complete wreck after finishing this book but wow I loved it. Clearly I like to torture myself. Here is my review of The Poppy War. This review will contain spoilers for the first book.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Once again please check trigger warnings before reading this book. There are discussions of rape, death, torture, colourism, racism, substance abuse, self harm, suicide
I listened to the audiobook which I loved so much, the narrator is really great and has you completely hooked. If you enjoy audiobooks I definitely recommend listening to this one.
Rebecca really came for my heart in this book and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. This isn’t a trilogy for someone who is looking to escape into a fantasy world, this is steeped in real history and Rebecca doesn’t hold back from sharing how dark the world can be. While there isn’t a chapter which is like chapter 21 of The Poppy War, it is still difficult and uncomfortable to read at times and it should be.
I knew going into this book that I should not get attached to any character because Rebecca is ruthless and yet I found myself wanting to keep Ramsa and Kitay safe and away from harm. Thesse two became my favourite characters in this book and I was terrified for them and honestly Rebecca really does make them all suffer so I was rightfully terrified. The cike are such an interesting group of characters because they are all misfits and yet Altan was able to keep them somewhat united. However once Rin is made Commander things start to fall apart. Rin may be a powerful shaman but she is no Commander and I felt for the cike who fell apart under her leadership.
Rin is immensely powerful and reckless and those two combinations make her volatile and a danger to those around her. She continues to be reckless throughout this book, jumping before really thinkinga bout the situation and implications and I just wanted to shake her and tell her to really think about things for a minute. She struggles with what she did at the end of The Poppy War but I’m glad that her actions aren’t justified to the reader. She tries not to think about, taking opium to drown out her thoughts and also to not think about Altan and her complicated feelings regarding him and what happened. Basically throughout most of the book she is a mess and that’s why it takes her so long to understand what is happening and results in THAT ending.
Kitay is still my favourite and the only one who can make Rin see reason and with him she is able to better strategize. One of my favourite scenes is when he builds Rin wings, in one week I might add, to help her battle the wind god. He is the single voice of reason amongst all these morally grey people and I hope that Rebecca has some mercy on my heart and doesn’t make him suffer too much in the last book.
Nezha is the character I went from hating to liking to loving to hating again. I was a mess. This man really needs to get it together and decide which side he’s on. I was SO MAD at him by the end of the book and I really want him to get his ass kicked by Rin. I have mixed feelings towards him and I’m honestly not sure whether he will be able to redeem himself after what he did but then again practically everyone in this book has done some really problematic things. We also get to learn more about him and his background and family which was interesting to see. I really hate his parents and how his dad manipulates everyone to his own advantage and own ulterior motives while acting like he’s doing this on behalf of the people.
The Hesperians who come from the west were awful too. They thought they were superior just because they were born in the west and I really hated how they believed they could “fix” Rin and the other shamans. The way they treat those who they believe to be inferior was horrible and I am worried about how much damage they will do in the last book after causing that destruction
This is a book that had me reading into the early hours of the morning because once it starts it does not stop and I just could not stop listening to the audiobook. I really loved this book and I am looing forward to reading The Burning God and by looking forward I mean dying from pain.