The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

Title: The Burning God (The Poppy War #3)

Author: R.F. Kuang

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Historical High Fantasy

Page Count: 617


What is the book about?

After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead.

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation.

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?

Quick links

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Who wrote this?

Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and the Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award nominated author of The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic. She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from the University of Cambridge and is currently pursuing an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies at Oxford University, where her research examines nationalism and ideology in modern Chinese fiction.



This book gave me the chills.

Unfortunately, I am unable to write a review for this without spoiling it, so if you have not made it through this series yet, I urge you to go and read it before reading this review. Or go read it and never come back to read this. Either way, go read the series.

While this review contains spoilers, I don't outright spoil anything. So if it seems like my review is incomplete or written in a weird roundabout way, I just couldn't bring myself to write out what I've read.

Plot-spoiling details

I'm still in love by the amount of time it takes to get through the war. The author has continually shown that she understands it doesn't take days to cross a continent, but months and months, with lots of death and disease.

As per the previous novels in the series, there are a lot of twists in the road, leading our beloved characters all over the map and into every last ditch scenario you can think of. Rin relies on warfare and her God to accomplish what she's been fighting for. I appreciate Kuang exploring every option.

The book was beautifully written, every action having a reaction. The way the novel was written, the degradation of acknowledgement of death, worked so well to make the reader feel the mood of the story.

Everyone becomes inconsequential

New characters came and went, seemingly for dramatic effect.

Kuang made the deaths in this book seem inconsequential. I keep using this word because it seems like the whole book was inconsequential. While some of the character deaths in the previous books might have been slightly more involved, this book had merely mentions of death, of characters ceasing to exist.

We get to witness Rin as she scrambles to do anything she can to save her country, and I admire her personal growth greatly. Even just from the beginning and the end of book three, her personality and actions changed so much. It's almost like Rin went through the five stages of grief.

Death doesn't matter anymore

There was hope in the first two books, but this one had a different vibe. It felt like we were leading to nowhere, even when Rin was achieving things because the consequences of achieving them were far worse than what she was gaining.

The closer I got to the end of the book, the more I realized that there was really only one ending that made sense, and it was an ending I was dreading since the death of Altan in book one. The characters will always live on in my heart, no matter how messed up it all got in the end.

The main message that was conveyed is that life occurs in cycles; some things just have to happen for life to move on. Kuang conveyed this message in the most beautiful and devastating way that she could.

Truly the end of an era

Having finished the Poppy War trilogy, I feel deflated and worn out. I know that the trilogy is loosely based on real Chinese history, and I know that the ending rings true. I think that this a very powerful book, and it has opened my eyes to some real historical events that I had never learned in school. I appreciate Kuang's fantastical approach, I thought it was very well written and entertaining. I loved learning about the Pantheon and the mythical creatures that she brought to life so well. I look forward to reading her future work.