The Poppy War

A Novel

audio cd, 1 pages

Published May 1, 2018 by Harpercollins, HarperCollins Publishers and Blackstone Audio.

ISBN:
978-1-5385-1909-7
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4 stars (79 reviews)

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 …

7 editions

reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Tikkie te onevenwichtig en nogal gewelddadig

3 stars

Meh, ik weet het niet. Beetje onevenwichtig, het eerste deel nogal YA chosen one/ kostschool, tikkie stereotiep, maar nog wel aardig. Daarna slaat het om naar nogal bloederig en gewelddadig. De hoofdpersoon neemt ook nogal typische beslissingen, niet bijster sympathiek, mild uitgedrukt. Ik twijfel of ik nog tijd investeert in deel 2 en 3.

reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Simply brilliant!

5 stars

I saw lots of enthusiasm for The Poppy War from other book reviewers and bloggers over the past few years since its publication so put it on my wishlist, but I didn't make any further efforts towards reading this book until it was suggested for February's Readalong and I realised it is actually a perfect My WorldReads fit. I learned that The Poppy War series, while being an imaginative fantasy adventure tale, is also strongly reflective of China's twentieth century history. While I am not knowledgeable enough on that topic to spot all the references, I could recognise significant events such as the Opium Wars themselves of course and also the horrors of Nanking which is retold here in a city called Golyn Niis.

From the early chapters where young Rin is mercilessly driving herself to achieve and then succeed in an education to which many people feel she is …

reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Review of 'The Poppy War' on 'Storygraph'

3 stars

This is a good book. It's well-written with a solid plot and I found the characters interesting (if a but one-dimensional, but this is the first in a series so I let it slide). I get why people give it praise!

... but I really dislike militaristic narratives. I find them grating. I probably won't be continuing the series. It's not you, it's me.

Engaging military fantasy grounded in Chinese history

4 stars

I enjoyed this book very much, both for its approach to fantasy through Chinese (rather than European) culture and for its basis in real-world history. The last third of this book is filled with the graphic horrors of fascists at war, so I wouldn't recommend this for young readers. (Thinking of my niece, who loves to read.) I particularly like the end of the book, because in the end our hero commits an act of fascist evil herself, and we are forced to think about things like the nature of justice, the cost of vengeance, and the dangers of power. Looking forward to jumping into The Dragon Republic!

Review of 'The Poppy War Lib/E' on 'Storygraph'

No rating

I'm already deeply uncomfortable with the fantasy racism where it's like, "yeah, these dark-skinned colonized people actually did practice human sacrifice to their very real bloodthirsty god and were generally brutal and terrible, but racism against them is still bad tho and their genocide definitely was still a bad thing!" But on top of that later on in parts I haven't read yet, the book apparently goes in the direction of <spoiler> "let's magic nuke not-Japan into oblivion" </spoiler>


reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Review of 'The Poppy War' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

Not for the faint of heart.

Well written with an interesting setting and core idea. I couldn't get past the graphic atrocities about 2/3 of the way in. I know that conflict was brutal in real life, so I don't know how accurate these depictions are, but I don't want to know either. Things like this leave me disturbed for years and nightmare ridden for weeks.

reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Review of 'The Poppy War' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

At start, book seems to be how our protagonist, Rin, studies martial arts, learns self-control, and gains enlightenment.

It's not.

The book seems to be more about the utter destruction and cost of war, and the prices that people are willing to pay to "win".

This isn't a happy coming-of-age story.

I still found it riveting and engrossing.

reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Review of 'The Poppy War' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Goodness gracious, what a read. Let me start by saying that overall, I enjoyed this book. I thought it was a really strong entry into the trilogy as well as a very good story in and of itself. However what stood out to me the most was its very unique structure. Many aspects of this book were solidly YA. The characters were written very YA, the relationships were extremely YA, and the story beats (girl has to prove herself to get into school against all odds, girl has to prove herself at school against all odds, girl has to prove herself in battle against all odds, etc.) This was most prominent in the first third of the book, to the extent that I was convinced that the book had been mislabeled as 'Adult fantasy'. And it was these aspects of the book that were my least favorite. I felt that …

reviewed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (The Poppy War, #1)

Review of 'The Poppy War' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Good but not great. The book started off just being average using a school setting to instruct our protagonist (and reader) about society, magic and such. I don't mind this method of world building but the delivery here was unexciting.

Each Part of the book escalated drastically and the Young Adult school setting from the start is a distant memory once the grim and horrific bodies start to pile up. There was enough to keep me entertained but I never felt fully invested in character or story either.

The final Part of the book was very gory and dark that it was equally disturbing and entertaining to read. With the enemy known and our hero aware of her powers I am intrigued to push on to Poppy War #2 but am not sold on the series as a whole so will see how I feel after the next instalment.

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