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The Poppy War

(The Poppy War #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  46,392 ratings  ·  8,504 reviews
When Rin aced the Kejuthe Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies it was a shock to everyone. That she got into Sinegardthe most elite military school in Nikan was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by riv
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published May 3rd 2018 by Harper Voyager (first published May 1st 2018)
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  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
    The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)

    Release date: May 01, 2018
    Enter for a chance to win The Poppy War, book 1 in the acclaimed fantasy series drawing on Chinese history. The final book in the series, The Burning ...more

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    Availability: 100 copies available, 6680 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Oct 01 - Oct 30, 2020

    Countries available: U.S.

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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.

    Community Reviews

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    really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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     ·  46,392 ratings  ·  8,504 reviews

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    Start your review of The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)
    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
    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!
    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.
    Victoria Schwab
    Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This series is wonderful. Straight into the sequel for me.
    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
    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
    Muhtasin Oyshik
    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
    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
    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 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
    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
    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
    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
    Mary S. R.
    Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: grim military fantasy fans (not grimdark)
    Recommended to Mary by: Tabi⁷ (ᕗツ)ᕗ
    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
    Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
    ‘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  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: freecopy, fantasy
    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 🖤🐶🐺🐾
    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
    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ 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
    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.

    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
    Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ✨ A ✨
    read my full review on my blog

    Buddy read with Ameerah & Warda

    I'm gonna love this. Right?

    Seriously guys, after just finishing City of Brass I cant take another disappointment
    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 -
    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'
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    Fantasy Buddy Reads: The Poppy War [October 10, 2020] 39 28 2 hours, 59 min ago  
    YA Buddy Readers'...: The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang - Restarting September 19th 2020 56 108 Oct 16, 2020 05:06PM  
    YA Addicted Book ...: The Poppy War 1 6 Oct 03, 2020 05:55AM  
    Readers Unbound: Poppy War 68 13 Aug 29, 2020 08:06AM  

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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!

    Other books in the series

    The Poppy War (3 books)
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