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The Poppy War

(The Poppy War #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  89,542 ratings  ·  15,411 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, w ...more
Hardcover, 530 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. …moreThere is no romance subplot or love triangle. There are relationships that could plausibly turn romantic, but they don't on the page. (less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Rick Riordan
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)  ·  review of another edition
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!
Victoria Schwab
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This series is wonderful. Straight into the sequel for me.
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Lots to unpack here but overall I really respect the approach the author took.
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
chan ☆
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the fact that i finished this??? what other wonders will 2021 bring

more thoughts here
Muhtasin Fuad
The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1) by R.F. Kuang

Gods, magic, and war. A military fantasy where the atmosphere inspired by Song Dynasty and the conflict in the book based on The Second Sino-Japanese War, you can be sure that this book won't be an easy one. Brutal story. Incredible world-building. Excellent writing. This is a story that asks us to examine how we weigh the life of ‘the other’, how we justify atrocities, and what it means to be human. Definitely wouldn’t recommend for a younger read
may ➹
reread 1/8/21: Reading this another time knowing exactly how everything ends is... so painful. I feel such a deep sense of despair for these characters and how their lives are touched and terribly scarred by war and trauma. I was able to appreciate Rin’s character arc in a whole new light after reading the next books, and I also shed a lot of my initial dislike of Altan this time around. This book and series is so wonderfully written, and it is so tragic to witness but a blessing at the same tim ...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
Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️
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
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
✨ A ✨
You know when you read the first few chapters of a book and you’re overcome by a feeling, a knowing, that this book is going to stick with you. That you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but you can tell you’re going to love it? — that’s what The Poppy War made me feel.

The writing was exquisite. It drew me in, and kept me hooked. It felt like I was watching a movie in my head, everything was so vivid, mesmerising but also heartbreaking. From descriptions of the setting, to the history and
Maryam Rz.
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grim military fantasy fans (not grimdark)
Recommended to Maryam by: ♠ TABI⁷ ♠
When you are so hyped for a book you’re practically giving helium a run for its money, there are only 3 possibilities:

☆ You write a pungent review, crushed beneath the waves of disappointment.
✯ You write a loving criticism, pleased that it was good but displeased that it was not that good.
★ You write a gushing piece, declaring your heart stolen and your soul sold.

I was hoping for the third.
But I’ll settle for the second.

Credit: Jhoca

“You will be offered power beyond your imagination. But
This book thoroughly destroyed me.

This is dark and heavy and not at all an easy read. It’s a story of vengeance, hatred, and manipulation. Added to the bleak retelling of the darkest period in Chinese history, it’s a painful book to read. But it’s so, so good.

Rin, a peasant from the south, is a ruthless, determined, ambitious character who craves power over all other things. She’s a student at Sinegard, a prestigious military academy, but she stands out because of her dark skin and accent. She
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites-2020
TW: child abuse; self harm; death of animals; VERY graphic violence; gore; graphic torture; graphic deaths particularly of women and children; rape; self-sterilization; opium use

(Note that this is not throughout the book; the torture and graphic death are mostly present in 2 chapters)

This is a adult grimdark fantasy inspired by the historical events of the second Sino-Japanese war. It weaves the fantastical elements of magic and gods with the grim realities of war. I adored our characters and

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
I wish I hadn't read this.

Maybe I should've done my due diligence before picking up The Poppy War (I didn't). I just saw that it was:

1) an Asian-inspired fantasy
2) even rarer, actually by a Asian-American (!) author
3) highly rated on goodreads

and that was enough to get me really excited, so I immediately picked up a copy and started reading.

The first few chapters are good, and Rin, a dark-skinned peasant girl who busts her ass studying to get herself into an elite military academy is the kin
Reading_ Tamishly
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second and the third books are calling me 💃💃💃💃💃💃💃💃

Oh, Rin 🖤

"Warfare was about absolutes. Us or them. Victory or defeat. There was no middle way. There was no mercy. No surrender."

And this happens exactly in this book.

I want to talk about so many things but it's just that there are so many things that I can talk about which might actually become spoilers so I am in a dilemma since yesterday as to how to write the review about this book.

This book is so many things at once (as it's supposed t
Sean Barrs
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

Whew. I buddy-read this with my friends Maraya and Sage and I'm honestly glad it was a team effort, because I'm not sure I would have gotten through the book on my own. The last time I tried to read this, I ended up quitting at 14% because I was so bored. THE POPPY WAR is a pretty widely-read book that a lot of people have read and have opinions about and I guess I'm just one of the masses in that regard, because I have a lot of things t
UK folks! The ebook is on sale for 99 pennies! Might as well aboard the hype train.


“You humans inflict everything on yourselves, and then blame us afterward. Every calamity has been man-made.”

And this is exactly why I don’t read fantasy nearly as often as I should. I am wiped the fuck out. I’m not even going to try and be coherent here, no point.
This was exhausting and traumatic and INcredible to read. And I expected that. But I was not prepared for this story to wrap itself
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 🖤🐶🐺🐾
James Tivendale
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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YA Addicted Book ...: The Poppy War - January 1st 42 55 Jul 06, 2021 11:07AM  
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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! ...more

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