The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) – R.F. Kuang

four and a half stars black
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 568
Release Date: August 8, 2019


Haven’t read the previous novel, The Poppy War? Check out my review HERE!


The searing follow-up to 2018’s most celebrated fantasy debut – THE POPPY WAR.

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.

The sequel to R.F. Kuang’s acclaimed debut THE POPPY WAR, THE DRAGON REPUBLIC combines the history of 20th-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating effect.


The Dragon Republic, like its predecessor, is brutally graphic. It’s a story about oppression, power, and the realities of war.

The Dragon Republic follows Rin as she throws herself begin the Dragon Warlord as he promises a future democracy for the country. Rin is quickly blinded by her own trauma and the war to see the Dragon Warlord for who he truly is.

The reason I rated The Dragon Republic 4.5 stars instead of 5 is for totally personal reasons. It’s been awhile since I read The Poppy War, so I decided to read the synopsis on Recaptains. Unfortunately, this recap did not remind me of the powerful emotions the first novel elicited so I felt like I was a few steps behind for big emotional moments in The Dragon Republic. I probably shouldn’t have punished it .5 of a star for that, but Kuang could have done a little more by reminding readers of big events from the previous novel at the beginning of this one.

The reason it took me so long pick up The Dragon Republic is because I forgot how accessible Kuang’s writing style is as compared to other fantasy authors. Her writing is clear and concise. She forgoes the flowerily writing in favor for a more utilitarian style where there is no room for unnecessary extras.

What I enjoyed most about The Dragon Republic was Kuang’s focus on Rin and her mental state. Rin suffered unbelievable trauma in The Poppy War and this trauma is apparent throughout The Dragon Republic. Rin struggles with anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD while shouldering the burden of being a commander in a full blown war.

The ending is full of twists and turns that readers can see coming from a mile away if they were paying attention. It’s heartbreaking and so beautifully executed. I cannot wait for The Burning God in November!

The only criticism I can levy at The Dragon Republic is that the secondary and tertiary characters get almost no character development. They’re always filling out the scenery without adding anything substantial in terms of their growth.

Overall, The Dragon Republic is an excellent sequel that showcases the horrors of war and its costs. Kuang puts on a masterclass of character development with Rin.

Have you read The Dragon Republic? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) – R.F. Kuang

  1. I absolutely cannot wait for the finale!! But I’m also terrified 🙃 This is one of my all-time favourites series. If I want to recapture what I loved about a first book, I’ll usually read people’s reviews rather than reading the recap, just to get excited again!

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