REVIEW: The Burning God by R.F Kuang
In the beginning of the Burning God we find the empire of Nikan in the middle of a civil war with Runin Fang right in the middle of it all. Rin, having gained the power of the phoenix back via her mind link with Kitay starts using her power more and more and lets the phoenix take over her body and run uncontrolled and unrestrained. The phoenix and Rin are stronger than ever yet she troubles herself with a lot of things which results in her being unstable and traumatised by her experiences throughout the years.
Rin leads the Southern Coalition against the Dragon Province leader Vaisra and his alliance with the Hesperians. The Hesperians and the Dragon Republic have technology beyond Rin’s comprehension on their side but she has the phoenix and will stop at nothing to get the threats out of the empire so that Nikan can live in peace. The Southern Coalition army is not strong enough by itself and so Rin must rely on her Gods which ultimately leads her to a risky alliance with the Trifecta that once ruled the land of Nikan. The Trifecta includes Master Jiang, Daji and the one that we have yet to see, Riga. But when the plan with the trifecta falls through she is left with hardly any options to the point where she struggles about what to do. Throughout majority of the novel, we get to hear about the gory details of what war entails and how Rin is no stranger to it anymore. She is no longer the young naïve child trying to appease her master but is a strong leader willing to do anything to unite her country even if that means forming alliances with people that she might not trust.
Eventually, she comes across her friend turned enemy, Nezha. Nezha really broke all of our hearts at the end of the last and honestly I found it very hard to forgive him but once the situation is explained, it makes perfect sense as to why he would have to obey his father and not put himself at risk due to the nature of him being a shaman himself. But unfortunately for Rin, that means that she was the one given to the hesperians for them to experiment on. But once she left and escaped, of course that fell into Nezha’s lap and you can see how bad they treated him and truly damaged him in ways unimaginable just to get their point across that shamanism is wrong and there way is right. I’m just glad that though Nezha is on the other side of Rin, that they are both anti heroes and actually do the right thing when it is needed of them, especially when they team up to kill the dragon.
My favourite part was actually the ending. I don’t want to give much a way other than that because it is a major spoiler but it makes total sense. Mutually assured destruction to balance out the world. A large chunk of the novel is devoted to how Rin can change the country that she wants to lead, and in the end she has a lasting impact on it that will span centuries within the world itself. Rin truly grows as a character even just within this book and through the entire series. But as she grows, it becomes difficult for Rin to justify her actions to Kitay and her allies and so she realises that she is the one who caused a lot of the destruction and chaos that happened in the Nikan nation even when she thinks all of this, she knows she is the one that has to put an end to everything, whether she likes it or not.
In this fabulous final book, R.F Kuang really out does herself with her writing and the narrative. Though it is based on real life history, I was glad to see some changes but whilst sticking to the true nature of the horrific events that really occurred. I read this and it really bought all of the emotions in me, from hurt to excitement. I loved this series and would totally recommend it, but it’s not for the faint hearted as it has a lot of trigger/content warnings.
5 out of 5 stars.