REVIEW: The Dragon Republic by R.F Kuang
We begin the sequel to the Poppy War with Rin being in command of the Cike. The cike is now working with Moag, a pirate queen. In order to get the weapons that they need to kill the empress, they must kill people on Moag’s list. When they are about to kill the last one, the Empress shows up. Rin loses control and gets knocked out and is taken back to Moag’s ship. In order to see Kitay who is doing Moag’s books, Rin must take down a ship. Rin agrees but also wants a small ship as well as Kitay. Moag agrees. Kitay is not happy to see Rin and still suffers from PTSD from the massacre of Golyn Niis. Rin and the Cike take down the ship but they are instead captured by Nezha who is indeed alive and survived the attack on Khurdelian. He takes her to his father, the dragon warlord who wants to take over the empire in the Empress’s place as he wants a democracy and to turn it into a republic. She initially is hesitant but realises this might be the only way that she will get to kill the Empress. Vaisra, the dragon warlord will provide her with an army and many, many ships.
The Empress Daij wants Rin and so Vaisra sends Rin undercover and offers her as a trade to Daji. He fills her with Opium so that she will appear to be controlled and weak but then once she wakes up, kill Daji. Of course, this doesn’t go to plan and Daji seals Rin’s mind off from the pantheon so that she cannot access the Phoenix and thus the fire. Chaghan rescues Vaisra and her from the palace and Vaisra is left severely injured from fighting Daji’s guards.
Rin is now unable to call the fire and so to help her, Chaghan tries to remove it by entering them both into the spirit world but once there, Rin sees Altan who she cannot kill thus leaving her with the seal put in place. Eventually, the Hesperian’s arrive and they are here to see what Vaisra can do for the country and see whether they want to create an alliance. They start to observe Rin and what she does. Vaisra uses her to bargain with them and she is experimented on once a week by Sister Petra. Sister Petra wants to find the source of her power and remove it from Rin. Rin is disgusted by sister Petra but does as she is told by Vaisra.
Eventually the rivers around the Dragon province are poisoned. Jinzha (Nezha’s brother) wants to find the source of the poison but find themselves heading north in order to attack the rest of the empire and find towns joining the republic instead. Winter has started and nobody thinks it’s a good idea to start the campaign against the empire. When Rin can no longer call the Phoenix God and disobeys Jinzha’s order, he takes away her command from the Cike. Bombs are hidden within the rivers and Nezha channels a dragon god that gives him the power over the water. Rin is shocked by this revelation but when Nezha does not calm himself, she drugs him with opium so that he can relax but once he awakes, he will not talk to Rin of what he is and just actively avoids her.
They make their way up Lake Boyang and find that Feylen, the Sharman that Altan released from the Chuluu Kurikh is now working with the Empress. Turns out, he is pretty scared of her. Feylen uses the wind God to decimate the crew of the Republic and Jinzha is assumed dead. Rin, Kitay, the twins and some Hesperian’s wind up together but are soon found by the twins aunt, the Sorqan Sira. The Sorqan Sira shows them visions of what has happened in the past to understand what they are dealing with now. She shows them of when the Northerners confronted the golden trio, the Dragon Emperor, Daji and Jiang, and what occurred and how her sister died at the hands of the trio. Rin tells the Sorqan Sira of her problems, that she can no longer conjure the phoenix power within her as Daji put a seal on her. She performs a ritual on her and Rin kills dream Altan but the seal does not undo and so the Sorqan Sira tells her of another way to get the fire back, by anchoring herself to another. Kitay and Rin bind each other together in the same way that the twins are which means if one dies, the other will too unless the bond is broken before one of their deaths.
The Hesperian’s are given guns by one of Chaghan’s cousins, Bekter as he is trying to form a coup against them. Qara is shot and killed so Chaghan unlinks himself from her and allows her to move on. Kitay and Rin head south whilst Chaghan stays with his people. They arrive in Arlong and find that Jinzha was killed and everyone is pleased to see them nonetheless. Outside of the wars of Arlong, refugee camps start to form and goes to find her old tutor, tutor Feyrik but bumps into her adoptive mother and brother. Rin sees the way that these people are treated and is unhappy about it but in the end, she can’t really do anything about it.
The Empire’s fleet is getting closer to the south and Kesegi, Rin’s adoptive brother, brings Rin to the warlords who try to get them to flee with her as they don’t trust Vaisra anymore but she refuses. When she leaves the meeting, she spots a Hesperian soldier raping a young girl. She kills the soldier and dumps his body in the canal. The Hesperian Navy arrives and there’s a massive battle between the Empire’s fleet and the Navy. Rin takes out Feylen by burying him under rocks and when Feylen gets a bit too carried away, Nezha saves her from him. Rin gets him to safety and decides that she must go after Daji now, or she will never get the chance. The two battle but Rin is forced to let her go when she reveals that the Hesperian’s are the real danger and that the federation was being controlled by the Hesperian’s in the first place.
The Republic wins the war and Rin, Venka, Nezha and Kitay drink to their victory but is double-crossed is taken captive by the republic and the Hesperian’s. The Hesperian’s plan to take her with them when they leave. Vaisra and Nezha’s mother planned this all along so that Nezha could be spared the same fate and stop his powers from manifesting. Whilst this is happening, two members of the cike are revealed to be shamans and are killed by the Hesperian’s. Kitay breaks Rin out of the prison and the head to a boat where Venka helps them out. Nezha willingly lets them go but this doesn’t stop Venka from shooting an arrow at him for what he has done to them. Rin with Kitay plans to over turn to the Republic and lead the south into war.
Wow. That plot twist at the end of the book truly made me shock. It wasn’t just who double-crossed her that made me angry but through out this book, we think that the Republic is on Rin’s side but that is not the case at all. R.F Kuang has created such a world that is filled with heartbreak and I cannot deal with how this book made me feel. As always, this book comes with such a big trigger warning so be aware that there is violence and rape detailed through out the book that might make your stomach turn in on itself. I can’t wait to read The Burning God and finish off the trilogy.
4 out of 5 stars.