The Burning God

The Burning God

Book - 2020
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The exciting end to The Poppy War trilogy, R. F. Kuang's acclaimed, award-winning epic fantasy that combines the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating, enthralling effect. After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. Despite her losses, Rin hasn't given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much-the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges-and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation. Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix's intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780062662620
0062662627
Characteristics: 622 pages : illustration ; 24 cm.

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Phil_R May 14, 2021

My heart pounded very hard for Rin's final battle. When it comes to epic worldbuilding fantasy with mortals and gods clashing, I still think Robert Jackson Bennett's 'Divine Cities' is an unbeatable numero uno, but this trilogy scores a lot of points for managing to be realistic, in that it doesn't shy away from what genocide and war really looks like.

d
dnk
Jan 03, 2021

Excessively brutal and ultimately nihilistic. I will not spoil the ending, but after reading the last chapter and the epilogue, I felt like I had wasted my time investing in the character and story. By the way the ending was written, one wonders if the author came to a similar conclusion.

Some things I did like:

* Well-deserved and perfect vengeance against a character who had tormented the MC in the last book.
* If the series is about modern China, the point at the end is well-taken (again, I don't want to spoil the ending). **edited to add: I want to clarify that I am *not* referring to the POV of the last character left standing; I am deeply disturbed that a culture which essentially fought a war to keep another addicted is being seen by anyone as "superior".

But overall, I gritted my teeth through a lot of this book. One thing that got on my nerves early on was the explanation of irregular warfare philosophy. (Read Max Boot and even Scott Anderson if you're interested in that.) Kuang's explanation made me feel as condescended to as, well, the main character. Had this been marketed as a young adult work, I would have known what to expect, but as it was, I cringed. Then again, given the extreme level of violence, that probably would have been inappropriate.

Always important to have a counterpoint to stories that make warfare seem like so much glory, but 1500+ pages in this series devoted to the gore and brutality of war was, as I said, excessive.

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