It’s Evolving! – a review of The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

This novel was described as gritty little sibling of Avatar The Last Airbender. I see the comparison, but this novel was so much more it it. I had heard so many good things about this trilogy!

But it left me with an opinion of a novel that I never had on this blog before.

Rin manages to escape an arranged marriage by being the only person in her town to make it into Sinegard Military Academy, but in no ways does her hard work stop there. Her prejudices and rivalries at the academy force her to struggle even further, until one of her kookier professors teaches her the forgotten art of Shamans – the ability to channel the powers of the gods. As war between Nikara and Mugen lingers, this power may be what the empire needs to win it. But what at what cost for Rin?

I really liked the characters in this novel, for the most part. Towards the end there were some contradictory things that the characters did, and at times too many in one scene. It still made them enjoyable, each with little quirks and dimensions that made even the most similar characters still unique enough.

The world and the magic was very fascinating, rich and entertaining. We managed to get a look at a fair amount of the world in this first book, and the unique influences from our own world combined into a fantasy world unlike any I had ever seen. At times it was too rich I’ll admit. There was a lot of information to process about the way the world was run, and they weren’t presented in ways easy for me to pick up. It may be for others, though.

There was a lot of military jargon – especially in the middle – that slowed it down for me. A bunch of strategy and meetings – they were good and interesting when they first came in, but then there wound up being too much of it as it went on. Like I get it, it’s a military centric story, but this made me long for different things to happen.

I think a lot of it was the book hooking me at the start with things that were unique and that I liked, but by the end it evolved into not the story I expected or one that appealed to me. It was very well written and very engaging until then. I’m not faulting the book for this at all. There are people out there who would eat this up, but I am not one of them. This is a very good book, don’t get me wrong. But after reading this I realise it wasn’t for me.

So while I say I didn’t like this book, I can still see myself recommending it to people who like this kind of story. I hope someone can love this more than I do.

The Poppy War gets a score of 3.5/5. This is good shit for somebody else.

Yours in writing


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