Title: The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2)
Author: R. F. Kuang
ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.
This review took me forever to write, because I couldn’t quite put into words the perfection of this book. There is no second book syndrome here, and no need to worry that it won’t live up to the hype: The Dragon Republic shines just as bright – if not more – than The Poppy War. Once again, R. F. Kuang has written a masterful fantasy story.
Grimdark fantasies can be difficult to get through, but R. F. Kuang does an excellent job blending the darker aspects of the novel with lighter elements and some humorous dialogue. There’s a lot more political maneuvering happening in this book, as well as the consequences of actions taken in The Poppy War begin to make an appearance.
I think I enjoyed The Dragon Republic immensely more than The Poppy War for one major reason: the characters. New characters are introduced in this book that are essential to the story, such as The Dragon Warlord (Nezha’s father). I really enjoyed the complexity of his character and found myself easily understanding Rin’s reasoning for supporting him. Along with new faces, a couple of my favorite characters return from The Poppy War: Kitay and Nezha (!!!). The three of them are together for a good chunk of the book, it was amazing to watch Rin’s relationships with each of them deepen and grow. They really take center stage in this book, which I think is why I loved the book so much. Also, I don’t want to get too spoilery, but R. F. Kuang really gave me the fuel for my ship and my shipper heart was so thankful. ❤️
“Fire and water looked so lovely together. It was a pity they destroyed each other by nature.”
My original review was much different than this, because R. F. Kuang pulls a plot twist out of nowhere and nearly destroyed my will to live. The entire book is action-packed and fast-paced, but the tension really builds during the last few chapters with an ending that is going to sucker punch you in the face. Holy shit. I have no idea what to expect in the next book, but it is riding at the top of my list for most anticipated releases for next year. I’m going to spend my wait obsessively thinking about Rin/Nezha and crying into the void.
The Dragon Republic gave me a serious book hangover. Similar to The Poppy War, this stellar sequel is full of non-stop action, amazing morally-complex characters, political intrigue, and worldbuilding unlike any other. The world is not ready for this book.