Book Review: The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

The final book in The Poppy War series is The Burning God. It’s a book that aims to round up a vast ongoing war and give us a satisfying end to a tale that was nominated and has won some high fantasy awards so far. Does it do the series justice?

The Burning God book review
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The Burning God follows on from The Dragon Republic. The Burning God tells the tale of how Rin aims to overthrow the dragon republic and how she hopes to put one final end to this war and reclaim the land and put an end to the evil that has spread across the land.

Plot – 4.5/5

The plot of The Burning God is fantastic. It’s a sweeping journey across over 600 pages that will grip you from the start. As described above, Rin is essentially out to put an end to the Dragon Republic who have more men than she does, more advanced technologies than she has and larger support than her. However, with smarts, clever tactics and some brute force, Rin must find a way to fight them and win to bring the land back to peace.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot as it’s the last in the series and obviously finalises this series. I must say though that the pacing was around a medium (if we rate pacing at slow, medium and fast). There were often moments of talking, tactical debates about war and discussions on personal matters. However, there was also a lot of action, twists and plot movement so this balanced it out nicely.

I’ve said in both my review of The Poppy War and in my review of The Dragon Republic that these books have such an utterly fascinating world, premise and culture. I love so much about the magic systems, the gods, the armies, the cultures, the beliefs and so much more in this world. It’s a world I’d adore seeing realised on TV or via a movie.

Characters – 3.5/5

If you’ve read my The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic reviews, you’ll know my opinions on the characters within these books. I’m a big character guy and if your characters aren’t funny, intelligent or likeable then it can have a huge detriment on my enjoyment of your book. I must say R.F. Kuang has finally improved upon the characters here. There’s more passion from many of them – Rin for one shows a more lenient side (despite still constantly being angry, stubborn, rude and obnoxious).

However, there are still a lot of very serious, very monotonous characters in the book who only ever talk about the same thing or whoever has the same reaction to everything ever spoken to them. It’s an improvement on the previous two books in the series, but it is still this book’s biggest flaw and if it wasn’t for the utterly brilliant world-building and story, it would be a big detriment to the series.

Summary – 4/5

Though The Burning God is an improvement over The Dragon Republic, the lack of character personalities and depth just stops this book short of being one of the great epic fantasy books. However, I do love the world and the plot is full of some fantastic action scenes, described very well.

I would recommend this series to almost any fantasy fan as it offers so many fantastic fantasy elements, however, if you’re a general reader who reads for poetic prose or deep characters, this isn’t a book I would recommend.

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