The Poppy War Series – Book 2
“People will seek to use you or destroy you. If you want to live, you must pick a side. So do not shirk from war, child. Do not flinch from suffering. When you hear screaming, run toward it.”
So what’s the book about?
After the great battle, the war is far from won. Rin is alone with herself, her thoughts and her feelings of guilt after the war. Intoxicated by opium, she is anything but fit to lead the Cike and must expect to fall prey to the phoenix and set everything around her on fire at any time. Pursued by the Empress’s henchmen and her own inner demons, she is kept alive only by the desire for revenge. The Empress should atone for her deeds and only an alliance with the Dragon Warlord, who wants to create his own republic, will give her the power and the army to do so. Old allies enter the scene and another brutal war casts its shadow ahead.
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- Even though I liked Rin a lot in the first volume, she underwent another amazing transformation here. On the one hand, she grows from the challenges and problems she has to overcome. On the other hand, she feels sorry for herself and doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong. And that gives Rin a depth that makes her seem alive. You can see very clearly how Rin has also retained her vulnerability. Outwardly she is bold and tough, but she also has her other side. Rin’s development from a drug addict marked by loss to a composed revolutionary is such an amazing turn. You always have to keep in mind that Rin is still very young and has to go through amazing events. I was interested to see how she would develop and deal with her thirst for revenge. Again, I couldn’t understand all her decisions and still don’t find her an enjoyable person, but I liked following her on her journey.
- The Dragon Republic is very much about strategic and political choices, about the search for allies. And the struggle of the Republic against the Empire. The question of which side is the right one is taken up again and again. That of the Dragon Warlord’s Republic or that of Empress Daji, who turns out to be more powerful than assumed? Torn between these two sides, death is also a constant companion, just as betrayal, sacrifice and exploitation are the order of the day.
- With volume two of the series, the author takes a different direction, because it is a little calmer. Whereas volume one was still dominated by brute force, things are now more strategic and the action is planned very carefully. But even if things are calmer in this book, you notice that it is a Grimdark book, because you see the suffering that has been brought upon the population. Rape, torture and death are still omnipresent. The story benefits greatly from the events and suffering during the war and therefore you can sympathise with the story, with the people and also with Rin.
Let the fight begin: First Book vs Second Book.
I don’t think this book is a typical middle volume; I liked it much better than the previous book. The predecessor had a certain deficit due to the typical training story at the beginning. But this volume made everything better. There is much more focus on the political realms. Also, more attention is paid to Rins characterization. Rin’s interesting development towards the end of the first book was taken up in the second book and she continues to develop into a strong character here. The author has also paid more attention to the different people, the strategies during the battles and the different fates caused by this war. The story seems to be much more of a military fantasy book and this only makes it more exciting.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
Rin’s story is cruelly described with all the facets of war, ever new dangers, new discoveries and in all the friendship between Rin and Kitay, which turns out to be the sole anchor in a world marked by betrayal. Rin’s development from a warrior marked by loss to a proud revolutionary is exciting to read and one simply wishes that the enemies would finally get what they deserve. Even if it can get a little bloodier for that reason. The end of the first volume was wonderfully developed and continued in this volume. The setting was also darker in my opinion, because Rin had to experience so many atrocities and also committed some herself. The second volume was breathtaking. I couldn’t find anything I didn’t like, on the contrary, the author did her job more than well here. If you are expecting the typical middle book syndrome here, you are in for a treat, because this volume is by far the best in the outstanding series.
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