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The Poppy War

(The Poppy War #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  13,037 ratings  ·  2,935 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
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.

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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,037 ratings  ·  2,935 reviews

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شيماء ✨
A really good book has a beginning, a middle, and then it absolutely ends you. The Poppy War is a really good book. The kind of book that makes you want to take part in some ritualistic bonfire—it doesn’t even have to be ritualistic as long as you get to yell and scream and dance around it.

Look, 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 wi
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 you
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
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
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 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 content wa
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 YA, and a rather blatant rip off of The Name of the Wind, including: 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 a specific type of magic etc etc. ...more
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
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Grimdark junkies
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
James Lafayette  Tivendale
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
Val Shameless ⚓️ Steamy Reads ⚓️
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
Spencer Orey
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
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.

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
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 -
✨    jamieson   ✨
I have become something wonderful, she thought. I have become something terrible.

Was she now a goddess or a monster? Perhaps neither. Perhaps both.

Ms Kuang sat down and penned the fantasy of the YEAR and I am out here giving her mad respect. Taking inspiration from her study of Chinese history, specifically the Opium Wars, the Sino-Japanese wars and the Rape of Nanking, Kuang presents The Poppy War, a grimdark military fantasy set in the Nikara empire, based on the Chinese empire. If you want

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.
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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'm just
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.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hamad by: Lily ☁️
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

BR with The Empress

War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.”

🌟 The Poppy War, more like a war on tropes. Seriously people, this was an annihilation for all the tropes I read before.

🌟 I am forever Thankful for Lily for suggesting a BR of this. I have been skipping a lot of books that I think are hyped but not to my liking. This was among them because I thought it was more a historical fiction and I
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. A refreshing approach to magic, a change in venue for most fantasy, and an incredible new voice. It's hard to believe this is R.F. Kuang's debut, because it is the work of a seasoned pro. I can't wait to see where the tale goes next. There's good reason why this book is up for all the awards.

tl;dr: Why aren't you reading this already?!
Whitney Atkinson
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
tw/ gore, genocide, graphic rape & assault/abuse/mutilation, drug use/addiction

4.5 stars?

My review of this book is entirely contingent on the fact that I rarely read adult fantasy, so the density, length, and content of this book was out of my comfort zone. If you read this genre more often and love stories with morally ambiguous characters and storylines spanning many years and detailing war politics and countries at war, this would be right up your alley. At the moment, I'm split between l
Lily ☁️
3 1/2 stars

This book is not a standalone, but part of a trilogy!! (Be right back changing it to a series here, so other Goodreads users won’t be misled, like I was.)

Also, I only just found out that the author of this book is twenty-one (21!!!) years old. I am shook & in complete, and utter disbelief. How??

// buddy read with a Backman stan

Blog ¦ Bloglovin’ ¦ Tumblr ¦ Instagram
2.5 stars.

The Poppy War is a high fantasy book inspired by the Sino-Japanese wars. It's told from the point of view of Rin, a peasant from the Rooster Province who, through hard work and sleepless nights, managed to get into Sinegard, an elite military academy.

I really wanted to like this. In a way, I did, but I also really didn't like this. To start making sense, I'll tell you a quick summary of my thoughts: this book is divided into three parts. When I think about Part I, which is almost half
Sabrina The Trash Queen
I have very very high expectations for this.
I only read fantastic reviews for this debut, and I hope it lives up to it. 💚🤞
Mogsy (MMOGC)
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Sometimes I find it difficult to write a review for a book that I loved wholeheartedly, mainly because of all the emotions I’m feeling and it’s as if every single one of them is vying to burst forth from me all at the same time. The Poppy War is one of those books. There’s so much I want to say about it, like why it’s so awesome, why it spoke so strongly to me, and why you should drop everything and read it at once. Really
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-shelf, fantasy
I will not lie. As I read through half the book, it felt like a YA fantasy with quite dark undercurrents, but then it took off as a genuine War novel that never let up on the grim.

No problem. Hell, I really enjoyed the very Chinese feel to it with all its inherent province racism, meritocracy tests, and very in-your-face reliance on Poppies to keep a population in line. It laid a great foundation for a rigid and fatalistic world-building and the rest is all up to the MC and the changes she unde
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*I was sent this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

First up, trigger warnings for:
- Rape
- Self Harm
- Substance abuse
- Torture
- Genocide
- Racism
Yes, this is one pretty daaaaark book!

I am so pleased I requested this one because it turned out to be exactly the kind of Asian-inspired fantasy I like. It's a story which starts in a rural province following a young war orphan, Rin. Rin lives with her adoptive family, working in the shop and trying to stay out of their wa
ELLIAS (elliasreads)

Initially a two star but there were certain strong aspects I really liked but overall....too much hype. Again. Sigh.

2.75 Stars.
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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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“War doesn't determine who's right. War determines who remains.” 77 likes
“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.” 40 likes
More quotes…