The Poppy War By R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War is a 2018 fantasy novel by R.F. Kuang. It is the first book in The Poppy War trilogy. The novel is set in an alternate Asia that is inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War. The story follows Rin, a young woman from a poor village who is determined to become a soldier and fight for her country.

The Poppy War By R.F. Kuang

The novel explores themes of war, sacrifice, and the cost of power. It has been praised for its realistic depiction of war and its complex characters. The book has won several awards, including the Locus Award for Best First Novel. The novel begins with Rin taking the Keju, a national exam that determines a person’s future. Rin scores the highest in the entire empire, which earns her a place at Sinegard, a military academy for the Nikara Empire’s elite. At Sinegard, Rin learns about the Poppy War, a brutal conflict that has been raging between the Nikara Empire and its enemies for centuries. She also learns about theurgy, a powerful form of magic that is used to fuel the war effort.

Rin is determined to use her skills to help her country win the Poppy War. However, she soon realizes that the war is not as black and white as she thought. She is forced to make difficult choices that will have far-reaching consequences. The book is a dark and gritty novel that does not shy away from the horrors of war. It is a powerful story about the cost of power and the importance of fighting for what you believe in.


If you are interested in reading this book, I would recommend reading the trigger warnings first. The novel contains scenes of violence, torture, and sexual assault.

Here are some reviews of this book:

  • “A stunning debut novel that is both epic and intimate, The Poppy War is a must-read for fans of fantasy, historical fiction, and military fiction.” – The New York Times Book Review
  • “A gripping and thought-provoking novel that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” – The Washington Post
  • “A powerful and unflinching look at the horrors of war.” – The Boston Globe

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