“Here’s a prophecy for you, she’d said.
One will die. One will rule.”
Like the first two books in the Poppy War Trilogy, The Burning God pulls no punches in it’s depiction of war and the cycle of violence that occurs as a result. Writing this review right now I am full of emotions as following the character of Rin, Katay, Nezha, and everyone else has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. What has also blown me away is the level of consistency the Poppy War series has had. One after the other each book has blown my mind to smithereens, unsurprisingly this one has wiped me clean off the map.
The Burning God sees Rin again reunited with her best friend Kitay as the South wages war on the Mugenese and the Hesperions She has been fighting this never ending war not only with the enemy but also with her inner self. In the process of everything she has lost many of those who are closest to her leaving her feeling nothing but rage and anger. Now she is the most feared shaman across the empire leaving her enemies pishing themselves at the mere mention of her name.
Having saved the nation of Nikan from Hyperion in The Dragon Republic and going toe to toe with the former Empress of Nikan, Su Daji. However, Rin is left for dead having been betrayed by her allies and friend Nezha.
This doesn’t mean Rin has called it quits however as she recoups joining forces with the Southern Coalition. Rin has sacrificed much of her military life for the south most particularly the village of Tikany. Rin having already been betrayed must keep her wits about her as her gut tells her the Southern Coalition leadership are not to be trusted. Rin has been betrayed before in the past which means she is always on guard.
“She’d laid her loyalty at the feet of two masters before. Each had betrayed her in turn.”
With the southern masses backing her and her Southern Army in toe, Rin will all the weapons at her disposable to defeat the foreign enemy of Hesperia and the Dragon Republic.
In her quest to totally obliterate her enemies, Rin must together join forces with new and reunited with companions of old. Her trust will again be tested as she must decide who is with her and who is against her.
One character that had Rin’s full trust is Kitay, Rin’s best friend and compatriot. Since the very first book both of them have been through so much together, lost so much together. But their bond had remained unbroken to the extent that in The Dragon Republic Kitay became her bridge and single connection to the Phoenix god inside of her.
“Rin wished she didn’t have that vulnerability. If she could cut out the part of the soul that endangered Kitay—that was endangered by Kitay— then she would.”
Rin is also reunited with one of my favourite characters from the series. I can’t mention who but God it made me sooo happy. This character was my favourite in the first book and the fact that they weren’t in book two as much was sad. But seeing them come back really made things extra special 😊.There are also some new inclusions which really ramp up the storyline.
Throughout the series Rin has formed and broken relationships with various characters. I feel without many of them we wouldn’t have been able to see Rin evolve into the person she has become. Not by her own fault, but the events of the whole series have shaped Rin who she is. She has had to make loads of tough decisions leading to some bad choices. This has led to many times where I was like “Rin staaaahp what are you doing?”.
I guess the saddest and most heartbreaking aspect was her friendship with Nezha. Although i feel nothing but anger towards him, I also felt kind of sad for him because like Rin, Nezha has also been pushed into a life of war and violence.
Anyway, enough of the feels lol. Another aspect the series and this instalment thrives in is the intense and utterly ruthless action sequences.
“The last time Rin had been near Arlong’s Hesperian quarter, she’d killed a man by burning off his testicles.”
Rin has had to evolve what she learned at Sinegard in order to beat her enemies. The way Rebecca Kuang incorporates military tactics into the story was like watching a violent game of chess unfold. It makes you realise that war isn’t just about battling it out with combat, it’s about the psychologically of getting an upper hand over your enemies and staying two steps ahead.
“The battle for ______ had become a game of warring tactics, a puzzle that Rin had to admit was highly entertaining. It felt like the sort of exam question she might receive from Master Irjah. ______ was the field of engagement.”
So what are my final thoughts? The Poppy War trilogy is by far one of my favourite fantasy series of all time. I felt like I’ve seen Rin grow right in front of my eyes. I’ve seen her wins, her losses, her rage, and her heartbreaks. The depiction of war throughout the series has been spot on as Rebecca Kuang doesn’t sugarcoat the true nature of war. It is horrific, bloody, and traumatising. Rin and many of the characters lose so much throughout the series. It’s nothing short of heartbreaking.
Even though Rin wasn’t the most likeable of people, I was mostly definitely invested in her story and journey throughout all three books. The ending to this book has left me feeling so empty inside as Rin didn’t deserve the life she was pushed into. She deserved so much better.
I recommend this series to all lovers of adult fantasy and grimdark. You’ll be in for a rough rough ride as Rebecca F Kuang pushes no punches. She will leave you winded with what is install for you.
Thank you so much to the Harper Voyager US team and Pamela Jaffee for allowing me to read an early ebook copy. Really grateful for the opportunity to read the final book in one of my all time favourite series 😊.
To Rebecca Kuang, thank you so much for writing the most brilliant series I have ever read. You’re a fantastic writer and I can’t wait to continue reading your books and the journey of your characters. Your growth as a writer has gone from strength to strength. Looking forward to you breaking my heart again in your upcoming books 😅😂.