The war is over.
The war has just begun.
Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix—the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.
Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.
But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.
Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.
- The Poppy War
- The Dragon republic
Book 1 spoilers below, beware.
This book was just as captivating as the first one and just as gritty! But without the graphic descriptions of rape this time.
It is mostly about Rin’s inner struggles – about her trying to cope with what she did in book 1. Not only that, but she also has to deal with being a leader of her group of people and constantly standing in Altan’s shadow. Even though he’s dead, his presence is still felt throughout the whole book. And that’s not all – Rin ALSO has to deal with her opioid addiction and the phoenix inside her whose power she can’t even access for half of the book!
She is fueled by hate and walks into a trap with her eyes wide open. You wanna scream at her and there’s this looming threat of all hell breaking loose any second! Rin doesn’t want to be responsible for anything. She wants to be used and not think about the consequences. She’s a mess. And others know it. Like the Dragon Emperor who wants to use her to gain control over all provinces and build a democracy.. Throw in the Hesperians from overseas with their strong Religious views and ONE God, their hatred of shamans & their superior weapons and there you have a new player in the game. Next to the Empress. And the Mugenese who are not ALL gone.
Basically, after the war between Nikara & Mugen, the provinces are at war with each other. Rin teamed up with the Dragon Emperor against the Empress. That’s what this book is about. The aftermath but also the start of something new & even bigger!
Rin is such a conflicted character! So are all of them and that is why I like to read about Rin, Kitay, Nezha and everyone else!
I honestly felt that Nezha is a different person now. In book 1 he was kinda the antagonist in the start. Rin’s rival. In the end they fought side by side, but still. I wouldn’t have called them friends. When Rin meets him in ‘The Dragon Empire’ he treats her like a long-lost friend and is much more chill and understanding? I didn’t mind that ‘new’ Nezha, but it WAS a change!
I’m glad that they didn’t force a romance between Rin & Nezha. They DID tease it, but it never went all the way and wasn’t a big deal. I hope they drop it in the next book.
I like the relationship between Rin & Kitay much more. They have this really deep friendship but also lots of different views so there is a lot of conflict as well! To get access to Rin’s shamanic powers again, she bonds with Kitay in a complicated ritual^^ Now they are forever connected and feel each others pain & thoughts. This wasn’t very well done if you ask me. I thought such a momentous decision would have more of an impact on both of them. But it’s never really a topic and it seems like nothing changed between them. Could have been done better!
The end was quite predictable and you could see the betrayal coming. But I still thought it was very well done and set up for the next book very nicely!
I like this story for its conflicted characters, their moral dilemmas, the world-building and the excellent presentation of war, chaos and the suffering that comes with it. Nothing is pretty, everything is horrible, bleak and ugly! You get pulled into this world, even though it’s pretty horrifying.
I’m really looking forward to book 3!