Monday, October 26, 2020

Review: THE BURNING GOD by R. F. Kuang


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Burning God is definitely Kuang’s best work and the most well-crafted installment of the Poppy War trilogy. Fans will be excited for this conclusion full of unexpected events at every turn and a bittersweet ending that I still don’t fully understand. 

The Burning God is just as dark and violent as the previous two books. War is raging in Nikan, and the Nikara are up against not only the Dragon Republic but also the foreign Hesperians with their new technologies.

This book focuses on Rin and Nezha, allies-turned-enemies on opposite sides of a war that neither of them wants to fight.

This book takes a look at what it means for invading forces to completely take over your city and your country and put you under their rule without your consent. Rin is both awed and terrified by the Hesperians’ technology and doesn’t know whether to embrace it or shun it, but ultimately the Hesperians are the colonizers, and they obviously don’t take into consideration what’s best for the people they’re colonizing because they think their own way of life is the best and the Nikara are subhuman at best. It’s interesting to see colonization from the other point of view; so often in school what we learn was written by the victor—by the people and forces who took over—but this book shows us what it’s like for all the other people on the inside.

We see new types of shamans in this book, which I loved. I won’t explain anymore so as not to spoil, but I’m super glad they were introduced so we could see wider implications of this magic than just Rin’s abilities.

This isn’t my favorite fantasy series out there but I can’t deny how well it’s written and the impact of its harrowing story. None of the characters in this series are particularly likable and there isn’t a whole lot of hope, but I still enjoyed the journey nonetheless. The Poppy War trilogy is way darker than I normally prefer my books to be, and I want to emphasize the huge amount of trigger and content warnings in this series. It is full of horrific and descriptive scenes of war and all the brutalities that happen because of that. Basically if you can imagine a trigger warning, this series probably has it, so make sure you’re in a good headspace before you start reading it. 

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