The Burning God – By R.F. Kuang

Goodreads Synopsis: After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation. 

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it?

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What can I even say about this final book? This has been the best series to come out of the Adult fantasy genre in years, and R.F Kuang is a truly amazing writer. It’s been months since I finished the book and I still have mixed feelings about it, so I’m hoping this review will help me get my thoughts sorted.

The Burning God is a fantastic conclusion to The Poppy War trilogy. Readers have followed Rin as she changed her life by getting into the military school Sinegard, watched the unleashing of her shamanic abilities and the war that sweeps through her world. In this last book we see the level of trauma and PTSD that Rin lives with on a daily basis and yet we see her still desperately trying to save those she cares about. I have always appreciated how realistic this book is, despite being set in a fantasy world. Rin has been broken time and time again, yet still she continues to fight. She is one of my favorite protagonists of all times. I love that R. F. Kuang never shies away from how horrible war is and how this turns Rin into a morally grey character. Too many people try to make their character a hero who does nothing wrong, which is just not realistic. Rin is a good person who felt like she needed to do terrible things at times, and sometimes she just does really bad things. I love that she is fueled by rage and I believe this has made her a stronger character because she’s had to grow and also face her mistakes.

I don’t want to give too much of the ending away, but I do want to say it wasn’t what I expected and I’m not often surprised by books. The ending was perfect. It fit the feel of the world and it worked for Rin’s character. Towards the end of the book I knew what I felt should happen to Rin, what seemed like it would really give her peace at the end of all her struggles, but I didn’t think it would happen. Kuang surprised me at every turn and the ending was no different. I often made the mistake of lumping Kuang with others who write in the fantasy genre, just because I feel like a lot of modern writers miss the mark. Honestly by this third book I should have trusted her writing abilities more.

So that said I did change my final rating of the book. Immediately after I was finished with The Burning God I was torn and gave it four stars, but the longer I’ve had to sit and think about the book the more I believe it was a five star read. I recommend this book to fantasy lovers and hope to own the entire series in the near future.

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