I received an eARC for this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
The Third Poppy War is over, but it does not feel like victory to Rin. She has become more and more dependent on opium, her senses dulled as she tries to control the Phoenix god and not lose her sanity to the horrors she saw and committed during the war. If she assassinates this one last target, the Pirate Empress Moag will lend her the ships and army to kill Daji – but it won’t be so simple. There are bigger players who want Rin by their side as a weapon. As the stakes become even higher than before, Rin must find out who she can trust and what she is willing to sacrifice.
The Poppy War is, by far, one of the best epic fantasy series I’ve ever read. It’s explosive, grim and very dark, throwing each character into the deepest despair they can imagine and then a bit further down. You sometimes can see the twists coming, but still you hold your breath and hope you’re wrong. By the end of the book, it was so incredibly intense I devoured it and could barely think of ever picking up another book again.
Rin remains one of the best-written characters in fantasy of all time. R. F. Kuang puts so much heart into her, so much pain and rage and hope, it’s glorious to read.
What stops me from giving the book a full 5-star rating is the slower middle part, which went on and on about religious differences and a thinly-veiled criticism of Christianism, which I don’t mind in itself, it’s just that it felt endless and since we already know where it’s heading, I just wanted to flip through the pages until we got back into action.
Otherwise, this is a masterfully written book. I still loved the first one more (as first books go…) and I can barely wait for the third, which has such a promising plot – so if this is the book I end up enjoying “the least”, then this is a 5-star series for sure.