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The Poppy War

(The Poppy War #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  25,669 ratings  ·  5,068 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
Paperback, 527 pages
Published October 18th 2018 by Harper Voyager (first published May 1st 2018)
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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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 ·  25,669 ratings  ·  5,068 reviews

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Chaima ✨ شيماء
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 whi/>
Emily May
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, fantasy
“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 on
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
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 p
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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. I’ve been eyeing this book ereview.
Victoria Schwab
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, but it is TH
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 a sp ...more
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 warnings for war themes, drug use, subreview.
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 heroics and gran
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
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.

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/>I
✨    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 lov
Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

Uh oh…

Those last 40% were so tough to read… like stomach turning, gorge rising, hyperventilating tough to read. >_<
And the ending?!
Oh gods! I think I’m afraid to read book two now…
I rarely say this after reading a book but after everything that happened in this one. And Rin... Jeez! Rin!


Full RTC once I managed to wrap my head around this and actually manage to write somewhat coherent sentences.

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 e
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
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 -
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
UPDATE: $2.99 Kindle US 2/28/19

Will be rereading this with my friends in my Fantasy Group to get ready for the next book!! Can’t wait!! 😊💕🌸
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 so very t

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.
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 th
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.
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
Clemlucian (&#x1f3f3;️‍&#x1f308;the villain's quest)
“We aren’t here to be sophisticated. We’re here to fuck people up.”

⭐⭐⭐ underwhelmed stars

The poppy war was one of the most hyped books of 2018. Everyone loved it. And when I say everyone, I include negative reviewers as well. Needless to say, I was intrigued. What was so special about this book? Was it really as dark and greedy as everyone said? To be honest, these reviews scared me as they only fuelled the flame of hope that started to burn in my chest. I expected my mind to be blown. And it wasn’t.


For t
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/>War
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 author was just thinking “Let’s see if I can shock the eyeballs out
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 mom
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?!
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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.” 131 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.” 57 likes
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