The Poppy War follows the story of a young girl Rin, who is a war orphan. She grew up with a very abusive foster family who used her for free labour in their shop and also as a drug mule. Wanting to be free from that life Rin decides to study for the Keju an Empire wide test that if she passes could see her out of her home town and off to the capital to the revered Sinegard the most elite military academy in Rikan.
The world is super expansive and well developed and is one of the things I loved about this book the most. You are really able to get lost in this world and delve into the histories surrounding the Empire and how it came to be. I think R.F. Kuang really took her time developing the back story and the origin of Rikan and that is something I always appreciate from an author.
Rin is basically the reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars. I love me a strong female protagonists and seeing her arc over the course of the storyline was definitely inspiring, but some of the decisions she made kind of grated me. She was definitely right when she said that the Gods have no sway over her, she made all of the decisions that led her to that ultimate conclusion and most of those decisions didn’t sit well with me. When she chose to side with Altan over Master Jiang that’s really when I knew I wasn’t feeling her anymore. She wouldn’t heed the advice of those who have had years and even decades more experience than her. Even though she only found out she was a Speer a few months ago she already knew everything and could handle the Phoenix god just because she’s Rin. That arrogance and overconfidence was a bit of an overkill for me.
The first half of the book when Rin was in Sinegard I absolutely loved! Magical/military style school settings I just love to read and this was no different. Seeing Rin struggle to fit in, being at the bottom of her class and then clawing her way to the top was wonderful to read. All of the characters were distinct and interesting and the feud with Nezha was so entertaining! The second half however, kind of dragged a little. The siege was just a little boring for me personally; it was just a lot of Altan locked away in his office and Rin wandering around or on guard duty. I like a lot of action and intrigue and this was just waiting around for the action to happen.
The overall premise I found highly original and engaging and the magic system was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Definitely enjoyed the majority of my reading experience however, I’m a little bummed I wasn’t as in love with the story as much everyone else seems to be.
⭐️3/5 stars Really enjoyed, didn’t love!
Perfection, I absolutely LOVED this book!!!!
Nona was saved by the High Priestess Glass just as she was about to be hanged. Falsely accused of murder Nona is sought after by some powerful enemies. The Priestess sweeps her away to the Convent of Sweet Mercy where all their novices are raised to become lethal killers.
The premise of this book is everything that I love about fantasy to be honest. The school setting was wonderful, all of the different classes that Nona has to attend surrounded by the other novices. Even the different bells and their meaning were interesting and utilised throughout the course of the book.
I really liked Nona; she is such an interesting character. Super loyal to all of her friends and isn’t afraid to speak up in their defense or even sacrifice herself to save them from any harm. She has a lot of secrets and I like that we aren’t made aware of some of the more significant ones til the end of the book. I like that her ignorance was kind of used as a way to be able to explain everything in a lot more detail letting the reader absorb all the knowledge slowly. Being that a majority of the characters are very young only 9-11 they are really discovering themselves as the plot progresses.
The story is incredibly rich with magical lore and also political machinations. The whole trial that the High Priestess Glass and Nona had to endure and the eventual reasoning’s behind it really took me by surprise. I was stunned that Glass put everything in place and saved Nona just on the off chance that this would occur, putting herself and Nona in danger. Her cunning and intellect really engaged me and I was deeply invested in the plot after that!
The way that the story shifts and the revelations really start to come out was so well done, multiple layers of plot lines with different characters with different intentions. Convoluted fantasy books with a multitude of characters and magical elements are my favourite books of all time and this really blew me away!
⭐️5/5 High stakes, magical, bad ass fighting nuns, I am IN!
I am underwhelmed.
This book follows the life of Circe, daughter to the Titan Helios. She is the least favoured among his children and when she is found to have fallen for a mortal man and used witchcraft against her own kind she is banished for eternity to a small island, to while away her existence alone.
I went into this book highly anticipating the read because of how hyped it was and I found myself bored.
At first I was very much invested in the storyline. I liked Circe and found her to be relatable for about the first quarter of the plot and then things spiralled a little bit for me. I appreciated her arc throughout the story but I think it was the way the plot unfolded that didn’t capture my attention as much as I thought it would.
It was a lot of Circe on the island by herself being told what was happening in the world around her and we didn’t really didn’t get to experience any of that excitement or adventure. Being exiled I should of figured that it would be a lot of Circe by herself but the way this book was hyped made me think it was going to be a whole lot more exciting and it just wasn’t for me.
I enjoyed the sort of historical aspect with all of the gods, titans, demigods and monsters and how they came to be in this book, but again it was fleeting and the story dragged a little.I found I didn’t really form a connection to any of the characters and by the end of it I really didn’t care. There wasn’t really any sort of build up of anticipation and the ending was a little too open ended for me.
I can see why so many people enjoyed this book and there wasn’t really anything outstandingly wrong with it, I just didn’t particularly enjoy it myself.
⭐️2/5 solid book, not one of my favourites…
Did not expect this!
We delve a little bit deeper into the story of Ryber Fortiza. Ryber has spent her whole entire life in the Sightwitch Convent as a sister without sight, someone who hasn’t been called by the goddess to become a fully-fledged Sightwitch. She works herself hard and makes sure she abides by all the rules of the sisters in order to be called but one by one the sisters around her are called and she still isn’t. That is until one day more and more sisters are being called into the mountains of the goddess and they aren’t returning.
I didn’t really know what to expect getting into this book, but I was pleasantly surprised with its direction. It goes so deep into the history of the Sightwitches and the flashbacks that occur really helped to strengthen the storyline further.
I love the fact that a minor character in the other books that I overlooked as unimportant could have such a rich and exciting backstory. I kind of wrote Ryber off in the previous books as just the girlfriend of Merik’s threadbrother. She was so insignificant to me that I even had to look her up because he name was familiar to me. Her arc throughout the course of the book was so well done! Being a devout sister who never broke the rules to become the last sister who delved deep into the mountain to save the rest of the Sightwitches, breaking all the rules in the process!
The addition of Kullen into the story was a nice touch for me. Again, he really didn’t leave a lasting impression on me in the last books and found myself having to reorient who he was in the series. Once I remembered who he was I was intrigued with how he managed to get himself into this situation. Why doesn’t he remember who he is whilst under the mountain and how important is he in the grand scheme of things?
I thought the pacing was perfect, it started off a little slow but you are fed enough information that you want to continue to read on. The history of the Sightwitches and how they have come to be was sooooo interesting to me especially learning about the Paladin’s and how they are the first of manifest the powers that are so common in the Witchlands now.
After the conclusion I just have so many questions that need answering! Did Kullen really cleave and die at the end of Truthwitch? Where did Ryber go after absconding from the ship? Is she going to save the Sightwitches from the cold embrace of the mountain? I need to know!!!
Because it was a novella though it was lacking a little oomph and left me with more questions than answers, but I was still entertained and enjoyed my experience whilst reading it!
⭐️4/5 I need to get to Bloodwitch ASAP!
Soooo I didn’t love this as much as The Wrath and the Dawn…
This book continues straight after the last book finishes off. Tariq has whisked Shazi off into the desert after the storm that has razed Rey. Shazi has to deal with the consequences of loving the Caliph and siding with the murderous boy king.
Don’t get me wrong it was still a great book regardless yet it didn’t completely meet my expectations. This has kind of been happening to me a lot as well, I will start a new series and the first novel will sweep me off my feel and then as I continue on the rest of the books don’t give that same feeling.
Shazi though still being very witty and tenacious I felt like at times she kind of acted a bit arrogantly. Like when she first met the Sheik and she refused to relinquish her weapons and demanded the guards to let go of her. I just felt like that was totally unnecessary and made a big fuss over nothing. She was in the presence of Tariq who would let nothing happen to her and she was a guest of the Badawi Clan who had housed and protected her family. Also when she first met Artan someone Musa said could potentially help her break the curse she was rude too as soon as she met him. Granted he was discourteous at the time but she took offense too quickly and that grated me nerves a little.
I liked Isra a lot, I enjoyed that we get to delve a lot deeper into her character and get a feel for who she is. I loved her honesty and compassion for her family. She is very loyal yet will still question her sisters’ motives and wants to be treated as her equal not her little sister.
The book was still very entertaining and the pacing was pretty good. At some stages it was a little slow and I did find myself skimming a little just to get through certain scenes. Though there were a lot of twists and shocking revelations thrown in throughout the plot and that kept me invested and reading on.
The magical element still wasn’t thoroughly explained either. There was no reasoning as to why Jahander and Shazi have this power and not Isra. Where it comes from or really what it is, just that it exists. I liked that there was a little bit of a history told about Artan’s family and the lore behind their magic but still it wasn’t enough for me.
All the elements are there, the characters, the plot, the setting, yet it wasn’t executed enough for me. I appreciated the ending, I liked that I was totally blindsided by several character and their motives, yet I wasn’t left with any overwhelming feelings at the end like I did with The Wrath and the Dawn.
⭐️4/5 Good not great!