Book Review: The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Poppy War (Poppy War #1) by R. F. Kuang (Four Stars)

“I don’t want to read about the balance in the universe. I want to know how to beat people up.” “Sometimes you must loose the string to let the arrow fly.” Rin rolled her eyes.

Harry Potter does The Karate Kid. An imaginative recasting of World War Two between China and Japan, about which many Americans are ignorant. Kuang uses Rin’s life and education to gently build her universe and history. Apt inclusion of quotes from Confucius, Sun Tzu, and Joseph Stalin.

“Once an empire has become convinced of its worldview, anything that evidences the contrary must be erased.”

Quibbles divide themselves into two groups: modern English phrases which destroy the reader’s sense of time and place, and standard fantasy silliness–repeating cross bows. Phrases like methanol, cut straight to the chase, and gravity. Instead of modern terminology (“volcano”), for example, Kuang inserts the term “fire mountain,” which conveys her meaning just as well.

“You think you can become a shaman? You think you can summon gods?” “I don’t believe in gods. But I believe in power. And I believe the shamans had some source of power that the rest of us don’t know how to access, and I believe it’s still possible to learn.”

Would like to have rated it higher, but even given my generosity to debut novels it just good. I do plan to read The Dragon Republic. Some day. Maybe. Unfortunately rife with profanity. What’s with current SF/F stories peppered with the f-word?

“You dress up your crusade with moral arguments, when in truth you would let millions die if it means you get your so-called justice.”

(2021 Hugo Awards nominee for best series)

1 thought on “Book Review: The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (Four Stars)

  1. Ah, those anachronisms. Which is why I never read much in the way of historicals written long after the fact, and why I struggle to hard to keep them out of my own work. The willing suspension of disbelief can only take so much. You’d think a decent beta reader would catch them, or an editor from the publishing house if there is one.

    The wars between Japan and China have been brutal (not that other wars aren’t).

Comments are closed.