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The Poppy War

(The Poppy War #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  36,593 ratings  ·  6,913 reviews
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who r ...more
ebook, 644 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Harper Voyager
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R.F. Kuang There is no romance subplot or love triangle. There are relationships that could plausibly turn romantic, but they don't on the page.

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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chai ♡
A really good book has a beginning, a middle, and then it absolutely ends you.

The Poppy War is a really good book.

I wish my pupils were at least heart-shaped so I could more accurately demonstrate my passion but if I ever die suddenly and don't have time to say anything profound, just know that my real last words will always be about how much I love this book.

So, what's this book about?

The Poppy War is a historical military fantasy grounded in the bloody history of China’s 20th century in
Emily May
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2018
“But I warn you, little warrior. The price of power is pain.”

Holy hell, what did I just read??

➽ A fantasy military school
➽ A rich world based on modern Chinese history
➽ Shamans and gods
➽ Detailed characterization leading to unforgettable characters
➽ Adorable, opium-smoking mentors

That's a basic list, but this book is all of that and SO MUCH MORE. I know 100% that The Poppy War will be one of my best reads of 2018.

Isn't it just so great when you find one of those books that completely drags y
Rick Riordan
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You think I torture my characters? Pffft. I am a rank amateur compared to R.F. Kuang! Set in an alternate Asia and inspired by the Opium Wars and 19th Century colonialism in China, The Poppy War is the story of Rin, a small-town orphan whose only chance to escape poverty and an oppressive arranged marriage is to score top marks on the government’s exams and earn a place at Sinegard Academy, where the Nikara Empire’s best and brightest are trained for leadership. Imagine a combination of West Poi ...more
R.F. Kuang
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Hi, there!

THE POPPY WAR is my book, so I'm obviously a bit biased. I wrote it over three months during the winter of 2015, signed with an agent in February 2016, and sold the book to Harper Voyager during my birthday weekend in May 2016. It's been nearly two years since then, so I'm terribly excited for it to finally go out in the world!

I'm going to use this space to tell you a little about THE POPPY WAR in case you're wondering whether you might enjoy reading it. This book is not a romance sto
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Hands down Best Fantasy of 2018!

This was such an amazing read and cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of the trilogy. The books will be insta buys for me!

War, school, magic, no freaking romance... This book kept me on my toes.

I have no doubt this series will become huge and I'll make sure to rave about it until you all read it!

PS. Just wanted to add that there are trigger warnings for... well everything. Self harm, drug use, rape, etc. It's a pretty dark book!
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Blood Song, grimdark/military fantasy fans
ARC provided by the publisher—Harper Voyager—in exchange for an honest review.

I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year. No no, scratch that understatement. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you a review for The Poppy War, a book that will go down as one of the best grimdark/military fantasy debuts of all time.

Once in a while, there comes a book that you just know will be a fantastic book just from the premise or the cover; this was one of those books for me
Victoria Schwab
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This series is wonderful. Straight into the sequel for me.
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
The Nikara believed in strictly defined social roles, a rigid hierarchy that all were locked into at birth. Everything had its own place under heaven. Princelings became Warlords, cadets became soldiers, and orphan shopgirls from Tikany should be content with remaining orphan shopgirls from Tikany.

Well, fuck the heavenly order of things.
Epic. Spectacular. Breathtaking. This is the one of the best books I have ever read in my adult life. I literally could not put it down. I'm gushing, I know
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I'm not going to lie, I struggled with this one. Right up to about 45% in I was wondering how the hell anyone was giving this 5 stars - not only was it not grimdark, it was borderline/actual YA, and a rather blatant rip off of The Name of the Wind to boot, including but not limited to: super clever, good at EVERYTHING main character who gets a place at top university/college and proceeds to be trained/confused/challenged by quirky professor/lore master who is the only one who believes in/can do ...more
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥
”Children ceased to be children when you put a sword in their hands. When you taught them to fight a war, then you armed them and put them on the front lines, they were not children anymore. They were soldiers.”

This book. I mean… THIS BOOK! *sighs deeply and shakes head*
There is so much to be said about “The Poppy War” and I’m afraid I won’t even be able to put at least half of my thoughts into decent sentences. Because after finishing this book about a month ago (A MONTH AGO!!!) I still have tr
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melanie by: Petrik

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“But I warn you, little warrior. The price of power is pain.”

First and foremost, please go read one of my best friends in this entire world’s review: Petrik’s review is not only amazing, he is also an ownvoices Chinese reviewer. Next, I just want to warn you guys that this is a very dark book that is heavily inspired by the Nanking Massacre. Please use caution and know that this book has major trigger and co
Sean Barrs
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grimdark junkies
Shelves: fantasy, 4-star-reads
The Poppy War is not a book to be missed by fantasy fans and especially those who like it infused with copious amounts of blood, darkness and misery.

This isn’t some fluffy little tale about teenage romance and personal discovery (although it may seem that way in the beginning.) This is a book about reality. Now that’s an odd thing to say isn’t it? Reality? We’re talking about fantasy here. But do let me explain.

This is a book about the realities of war. War isn’t pretty. War isn’t about heroic
Val ⚓️ Shameless Non-Snowflake ⚓️
Low 3 Stars

Boy, did it take me forever to finish this thing.

I really wanted to love this book. One of my favorite reviewers adored it and sang it's praises, but it just didn't draw me in the way I thought it would.

The last 150 pages or so got really good (thus why I rated it 3 instead of the possible 2 I was planning on up until that point - not that it matters) and I smashed through them in one sitting; however, it still didn't save the entire book for me.

I felt that the world-building was lo
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘this book will seriously mess you up.’
- ancient chinese proverb

lets get down to business. there is a lot to unpack with this book, so im going to use this review as a way to process my thoughts. to begin, the story is broken down into three parts.

part one - this felt very YA to me. students are gathered at an elite school to train to become top soldiers for an imminent war. we get introductions to characters and decent world building. its very straight forward feel to this section.

part two - t
James Tivendale
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, freecopy
I received an advanced reader copy of The Poppy War from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank R. F. Kuang and Harper Voyager for this opportunity.

Rin is a war orphan who works at her foster parents' shop and their main income is created by dealing drugs. Only just into her teenage years, Rin is offered a proposal to marry and bear children for an unattractive gentleman three times her age who has no redeeming qualities. She decides she needs to escape this prese
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I loved this reread!!

I can relate to so much with Rin. I love her and so many others. There were a few things but they were just mentioned so it was not as bad. There are some graphically human stuff but that’s okay. Either way, a fantastic book!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
may ➹
what I should be thinking: The Poppy War explores themes of power, ambition, and humanity with a skill that is thoroughly inspiring for an author only 21 years old at the time of publishing, and Kuang expertly develops Rin into a character you hate yet also, somehow, adore. The book snakes its way through your brain, subtly becoming an obsession that only grows as time passes, and each day you find yourself thinking about how perfect of a book it is.

what I’m actually thinking: Fang Runin please
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Connor by: Emily
Shelves: fantasy
My Video Review:

This novel started out so strong for me, and I can't believe how little I was enjoying it toward the end. This novel reads like two separate people wrote it. I loved the first 40 percent. I know people have compared The Poppy War to The Kingkiller Chronicle because of the academy setting and the fact that the main characters don't have much going on personality-wise. I get that criticism, but I was just enjoying the academy and the classes and everythi
✨    jamieson   ✨

• Altan [redacted] makes me so sad and umm ... I refuse to accept it? Turn up in The Dragon Republic king !
• Altan + Changhan .. does anyone else get a gay vibe
• I loved Nezha in this SO MUCH MORE THAN THE FIRST TIME and he really is my piece of shit son
• the scene where Nezha and Rin fight back to back IS art I don't take criticism
• I love this fantasy so much like ... interestin
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

I can't believe this is a debut. I can't believe the author is in her early twenties. I can't believe humanity's history with war and violence is so deeply disturbing.

Spencer Orey
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The increasing level of violence over the course of this book was tough for me. It's a stunning debut though and one of those thick books that somehow flies by quickly. The characters are very well done. I empathized with all of them. And the China-inspired world is a real standout!

The thing I'll come back to later is the terrible thoughtful tradeoffs this book presents about taking on the Gods/magic/power. That aspect of the book is phenomenal.

But it is very very violent. Like, be prepared for
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book was incredible and is a new favourite fantasy!
*Would not recommend for young/sensitive readers - very graphic
Review available on my channel -
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, romance, 2019

Me: typing this post while trying not to move my neck because this book gave me a spine-cracking case of whiplash…

What just happened? I haven’t experienced this kind of love/hate 180 with a book in years. It’s like this was written by two people. One would be an author I would add to my auto-buy list. The other I would never read again.

Let me go ahead and throw out the obligatory “SPOILERS” warning now, because I have some feels and I need to talk about them without censuring myself.

This book is
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ by: so many of my wonderful friends

Wow. The Poppy War consumed me. You know, fantasy has been my favourite genre for as long as I can remember, but I have to admit that it has become harder and harder to find favourites for the past few years. When we read a lot of books from a genre, stories, magical systems and characters start blending together in some kind of indiscernible mush. It’s goddamn awful.


I can count on the fingers of one hand the fantasy novels I've loved in the past 3 years and that tells me something : I'
Lucy Langford
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was she now a goddess or a monster? Perhaps neither. Perhaps Both.

This is my first 5 star read of 2020 (that is not a reread).

It is hard to believe that this is the authors debut novel. It is outstanding and brilliant!

The world building to this book is mind-blowing, with a world containing shamanism, drugs, politics, warfare, a bloody history and gods. This book was brutal and complex with the basis of its story based on Chinese history and philosophy. It was dark, magical, and full of vengeful

Loved it when I first read but the more time passes the more I recall many of the problems I overlooked what with all the excitement of finally reading it.

First part was incredibly enjoyable. Second part is where everything went haywire. Too many inconsistencies with the mc and in the pacing.

This book is NOT your run of the mill fantasy. Be mindful of trigger warnings for... well, everything.
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

Holy shit this was horrifying and amazing. My only complaint is that it took a while to get going, but I think all that world building and character building becomes so worth it later on that I’m retroactively ok with the number of pages spent at a school. Also, I listened to this across two very long car journeys and sobbed approximately 4 separate times. I DO NOT CRY when I listen to audiobooks so this genuinely shocking.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4 stars because, when all is said and done, I think this is a well-crafted fantasy novel with an important story to tell. But it’s intensely grimdark, and more like 2.5 stars for how much I actually enjoyed reading it. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Fang Runin (Rin) is a war orphan living with opium-dealing foster parents who physically abuse her and treat her like a slave, which is miserable enough. But when they arrange a match for her at age fourteen with a twice-divorced merchant
Cristina Monica
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chaos does not discriminate.

I wish the part at the Academy had been longer but Rin's growth is tremendous. I have a thing for underdogs so it was a pleasure getting to know her and cheering for her. She has incredible resolve and strength. I can't wait to see what she does next, good or bad.
Started at 5 stars . . . held there for quite a while!

About a third of the way in, it started to drop.

It became repetitive, drawn out, confusing, and kind of boring. So much happened in the first third that was really cool and creative. The world building was interesting and all the characters were fascinating.

Then, it became a different book . . .

Falling stars . . . 5 to 4.5 to 4

Lots of long scenes with long discussions and not much progress.

Suddenly there were scenes where it felt like the aut
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Hello! I use Goodreads to support books I really loved (I don't review or even always finish books I don't like) so it's mostly 5 star ratings here. I don't check GR very often so I don't respond to friend requests or messages. If you'd like to get in touch, find me on Twitter or at my author website–thanks!

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