The Poppy War Series – Book 3
“You don’t fix hurts by pretending they never happened. You treat them like infected wounds. You dig deep with a burning knife and gouge out the rotten flesh and then, maybe, you have a chance to heal.”
So what’s the book about?
Rin does not give up despite her losses, because she wants to do everything to prevent the destruction of the Dragon Republic as it now exists. In order to survive in this bloody battle, she must also look for new allies. And she finds them in her old home, the southern provinces and the village of Tikany. But even though she has her own people as allies, they are not as trustworthy as she had hoped. And she finds her allies not only in her old roots, but also in old enemies who offer her a powerful chance to defeat the colonising Hesperians and the Dragon Republic. However, these are not Rin’s only enemies, but also the power that resides within her. The influence of the voice of the phoenix is growing, and no one knows how long she can or will resist this power…
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- Rin. You have to hate her and also love her. Rin has come such a long way. She had to see many atrocities and even commit them herself until she became the person she is now. She is not a heroine, not even in this volume, but she wasn’t in the volumes before either. She is the anti-hero who has to take on everything in order to serve the Republic. And that’s why I can understand why she is such a cold being. You can tell that the power of the Phoenix and the war are getting to her and that she only lives for her goal. And you can also understand her hatred, actually against everyone and everything. But in this volume in particular she is stronger than ever before.
- The dichotomy between progress and tradition was remarkable in this book. The fact that the Republic has outdated views and no great inventions is particularly noticeable in the new city of the Hesperians. However, although the Hesperians have forward-looking views when it comes to hygiene, military, administration and much more, they are much more progressive, and yet the Republic and Rin in particular do not want change. They would rather stick to the old principles, even though it may not bring progress, because there is a certain national pride. Even today they hold on to many things, even if the future will bring much more. But you could understand Rin’s helplessness when she saw the city, because it shows that progress can also be scary.
- The interactions between Rin and each character were breathtaking. I was particularly captivated by her relationship with Nezha. This complicated dynamic between these two characters was especially intriguing after the end of the second volume. Nezha is also constantly torn between the two sides. I was actually hoping for some weird love story to develop between the two, although I’m not a fan of love stories, but the contrast between fire and water would have made that exciting. But here there were so many scenes with the two of them that drove me crazy and I was either bursting with anger or almost crying. The last 200 pages show the relationship between the two in particular, you can see that they love each other somehow, but also have to hate each other, because they are the exact counterpart of the other.
- I don’t want to spoil the ending of course, but I can say that it is the best ending I have ever read. I know many people will feel differently, but I think it closed the story very well and it just fit the character of the book. The last pages touched me so much emotionally that I just sat on the sofa for hours afterwards and did nothing. And because it touched me so much, I don’t know if I can or want to read this story again.
Let the fight begin: Previous Books vs Final Book.
The last book was similar in character to the second book. Since the first book focused more on training and only became a military fantasy book towards the end, the third volume was again as the second about war and its characteristics. For me, the second book was the strongest of the series and the third is only slightly inferior to it. Everything that was a question at the end of the second volume was well taken up again in the third. The only reason why the third volume was not quite as good as its immediate predecessor was the aspect that the last 100 pages dragged a little. There were still so many aspects to be resolved, even if a few questions could have been left open. So the battle of the books was won by the second volume at the end.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
A breathtakingly good series. So much grief and anger has been stirred up in these three volumes and it doesn’t let you go even after you finish the series. I thought about what I experienced for days and even after a few months all the plots are still very present in my mind. R.F. Kuang has hit just the right feelings of the reader and if you like to suffer in a book, this is the one. The bittersweet ending is the crowning glory of this series and leaves no questions unanswered. You live through this story with Rin and by the end you feel as miserable as she does. In the end you can say that the book was action packed with lots of heart and lots of blood. I am really looking forward to more!
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