The Dragon Republic is the second book in The Poppy War series written by R.F. Kuang. The first book was a huge success in the fantasy community with the Asian-inspired fantasy setting really drawing fans into some unique and fun. But does the sequel live up to the original?
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I’ll start out by suggesting you go and read my review of The Poppy War before starting my review of The Dragon Republic – once you’ve done that, you may carry on here because my opinions of The Dragon Republic are very similar to that of The Poppy War.
Plot – 4/5
The Dragon Republic picks up right where we left off after the events of The Poppy War. Rin began life as a nobody in a small town and has become embroiled in a war that will change the continent forever. After her actions in the third Poppy War, she’s now on the run and desperate. As a result, she decided to join forces with the Dragon Warlord in hopes to conquer Nikan. However, his plans soon change and don’t align with Rin’s.
I found this plot to be very similar to the first: there’s a lot of people talking about war, then there’s some fighting and then more people talking about war. I know this is the whole point of the books – they’re in constant war, but I did feel like sometimes, Kuang could have brought another plotline into the fray to break up the constant theme. This isn’t to say I disliked the plot of this book – oh no, it’s very well written and is one of the better war-based books I’ve read.
I still love the premise of this book and when I think about the idea of what I’m reading in my head, I desperately want to like it more than I actually did. Overall, as I said, the plot is quite engaging – there are some really cool action scenes and some really epic moments but these are all hampered by just a little bit of monotony when it comes to the topic.
Characters – 3/5
So this is where I have my biggest problem with these two books so far – the characters. My biggest complaint is that a lot of them just simply don’t have very fun or interesting personalities. Nearly everybody wants to discuss war, hardly anybody wants to make a joke and nearly all of them are very sensitive. I understand the situation they find themselves in is less than desirable, but it doesn’t stop one or two of them cracking a joke every now and then or a character being introduced who doesn’t constantly worry, stress and snap at people.
There are a couple of notable figures in the book who do give some slight relief to my aforementioned berating but these unfortunately don’t break up the other dull tones of the other characters enough for me. I’d have to say my main problem is Rin – she’s constantly angry, constantly snapping at people and forever losing her temper (I realise all of these are essentially the same thing – that’s the brunt of her personality).
Summary – 4/5
The Dragon Republic is a very respectable fantasy novel – it feels very much like The Poppy War and I rated The Poppy War five stars. However, The Dragon Republic doesn’t do anything new – it doesn’t introduce anybody particularly introducing and it doesn’t blow my mind enough for it to remain a five-star.
You may be wondering why I’ve given this book a four-star if I didn’t rate the plot that highly and I found the characters quite annoying? It’s the premise, it’s the incredible world-building, it’s the imagination and the cultures that Kuang has invented. This would make a brilliant TV series with some slight work on the personalities of the characters and for that, I have so much respect for it. I do really feel that my need for good characters hampers my opinion of what is otherwise a really great novel.