Consider me destroyed. R.F. Kuang has done it again. The Burning God is the final instalment in The Poppy War Trilogy, a series richly inspired by modern Chinese history – a subject which I wasn’t really familiar with before reading this series. The trilogy centres on Fang Runin, known throughout the books as Rin. The series takes her from adopted girl mistreated by her family, to student at the prestigious Sinegard Military Academy, to soldier, to shaman, to all-powerful General.
Star rating: 5 stars (all of the stars, this is a new favourite for me)
Publication date: 17th November 2020
The Burning God begins with Rin returning south to Rooster Province. In book one she saved her nation from foreign invaders, in book two she battled Empress Su Daji, Trifecta survivor and known as the Vipress. She is betrayed by her allies in the Dragon Province, which sends her home to Tikany, the small village where her story began.
This is a stunning finale with vivid military descriptions mixed with a fantasy world that is only expanded upon. Rin is faced with the challenge of her school nemesis – turned ally – turned betrayer Nezha, who has allied with a foreign colonising nation, Hesperia. Hesperia wishes to eliminate shamanism as it goes against all of their religious beliefs, but Rin knows her Gods are real and she is not afraid to prove it.
Amongst the detail and gripping plot lies a cast of characters with so much depth it’s astonishing. This is not a book of good versus evil – every character has multiple sides to them which only facilitates the twists in the plot. Rin is as ambitious and angry as usual, but really grows into her new power (not always in the best way). Kitay, now bound to her, balances her out, and becomes an even better strategist. Nezha, having been forced by Rin to acknowledge his shamanism, is now an even greater threat than ever before. Venka is as mysterious as always, and I couldn’t help but like her.
This book really explores what war can do to a country and its people, whether it is civil or through invasion. The ending made me cry, but the story definitely has a small number of humorous moments along the way. I cared so much for Rin, despite her flaws and horrific decisions. Even though it was always clear that she would not have a happy ending, I still hoped otherwise.
Thank you, R.F. Kuang for a better ending to this trilogy than I could have hoped for. Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for the eARC, it made my week.
My friend Linaria from North America also wrote an awesome review – you should check it out in Linaria’s Library