The Dragon Republic is as brutal, dark and brilliantly crafted as The Poppy War. There is no whiff of that 'second book slump'. Instead, we see how one book later Kuang has honed her craft and created an even more complex military grimdark fantasy novel with some of the best magical battle scenes I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
Once again all of the possible trigger warnings for this book.
I mentioned in my review of the first book (here) about how war changes everyone in some way, be that emotionally or physically. We see that even more in this book. We also are shown how easy it is during times of strife to trust the wrong people. To seek out someone you believe to be a friend only for them to stab you in the back at another time. Occasionally literally.
Each character had so much growth in this novel but in particular Rin. She began this book at her worst, the lowest she had ever been, dependant on opium to cope with the pain, something she had thought less of Altan for. Whilst you were so frustrated with Rin for this extended period of time it made her eventual growth all the more satisfying. Don't get me wrong, she's still rash, rage-fuelled and abrasive but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
So far Kuang's world-building has been second to none, I have a very clear image of Nikara, the Mugenese and even Speer island. In this book, we're introduced to the Hesperians. An extremely religious and technically advanced nation. Whilst we didn't see their land (that I can recall) from their mannerisms and descriptions alone it was easy to imagine what kind of land they came from. I also thoroughly enjoyed how the magic of this world was delved into deeper. Not only did the origins of the Phoenix become clearer but so did the magic of the Hinterland tribes.
As for the pace and plot of the novel, never in 654 pages did I feel as though there was a lull or that anything dragged. There was always something happening that kept my attention, a new twist to the story or another battle.
Truly one of my favourite series to date and an exciting voice for the fantasy world.
Name: The Dragon Republic*
Author(s): R.F. Kuang
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Have you read The Dragon Republic?
What did you think?
Thank-you for reading,