Winner of the Reddit Fantasy Award for Best Debut 2018
‘The best fantasy debut of 2018’ WIRED
A brilliantly imaginative epic fantasy debut, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic.
When Rin aced the Keju – the test to find the most talented students in the Empire – it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who had hoped to get rich by marrying her off; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free from a life of servitude. That she got into Sinegard – the most elite military school in Nikan – was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Fighting the prejudice of rival classmates, Rin discovers that she possesses a lethal, unearthly power – an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of psychoactive substances and a seemingly insane teacher, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive – and that mastering these powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most people calmly go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away…
‘An outstanding debut’
‘A book that will go down as one of the best grimdark/military fantasy debuts of all time’
‘A masterpiece by grimdark’s newest and perhaps darkest daughter’
FANTASY BOOK REVIEW
‘A wholly unique experience’
THE WASHINGTON POST
‘R.F. Kuang’s fresh approach to magic and hard-hitting story is a punch to the gut fantasy has needed for a long time. I can’t wait for THE DRAGON REPUBLIC’
Peter V. Brett, bestselling author of The Demon Cycle
‘Enthralling from start to finish … I thought myself prepared. I was now. R.F. Kuang’s debut is a masterful must-read, and I’ve no doubt the best is yet to come’
Nicholas Eames, author of KINGS OF THE WYLD
‘A blistering, powerful epic of war and revenge that will captivate you to the bitter end’
Kameron Hurley, author of THE LIGHT BRIDAGE
‘Fresh, assured, character-driven fantasy that’s choc full of magic, war, and betrayal. I loved it from start to finish’
Peter Newman, author of THE VAGRANT
‘A powerful, emotional journey, compellingly written’
Adrian Tchaikovsky, award-winning author of THE CHILDREN OF TIME
‘An original and engrossing tale of the coming of age of a talented young soldier amid the horrors of invasion and genocide’
Anna Stephens, author of GODBLIND
‘I so enjoyed The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang … It is all about survival, and how a person’s will and determination can change the course of their life. I loved the central character, felt her pain and her far-too-brief moments of joy, and just loved how Kuang breathes fresh life into the warrior training school … Highly recommended’
John Gwynne, author of MALICE
The award-winning epic fantasy trilogy that combines the history of China with a gripping world of gods and monsters
About the Author
Rebecca F. Kuang immigrated to the United States from Guangzhou, China, in 2000. She has a BA in International History from Georgetown University, and she will pursue her graduate degree in Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge on a Marshall Scholarship in 2018. Her research focuses on Chinese military strategy, collective trauma, and war memorials.
Good debut but after an explosive start it just fizzles out.
After reading several dud books in a row I looked up some recomendations for releases this year and The Poppy War rather stood out among them. It's a pretty good debut novel taking a lot of influence from chinese history and myths to create a unique fantasy world that...
Amazing Fantasy novel
Before I start my review I will warn you that this book is not for those faint of heart. Not your typical YA fantasy, you should proceed with caution if you are sensitive to scenes of Drug-abuse, self-harm, rape, war, torture, genocide and racism. Most of this is described...
an impressive but somewhat unbalanced and tonally inconsistent read
I first heard about this book in the context of a controversy about it being marketed as YA when the author felt it was clearly adult. While there’s nothing wrong with YA fantasy – indeed, I read a lot of it – I remember being really irritated on the author’s behalf by...
The Poppy War delivers what most trilogies aspire to – in ONE BOOK!
The Good: One of the most badass and brutal POV characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading, worldbuilding that rises up around the reader without you even realising, and a plot so tightly packed and paced that this veritable tome of a tale turns from page-turner to...
Prepare to have your perceptions altered.
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. And by a lot, I mean over forty books a year on average. It’s not only because I love the genre, either – which I do. I treat each journey into an author’s imagination as a treasure hunt, you see. It’s as if I’m panning for gold...
I'm not a big fantasy reader and so I was really surprised how much I loved this book. Rin is a war orphan who lives with a foster family, in the Nikara Empire, who use her as a labour force. When Rin is 15, an arrangement is made for her to marry an old, rich...
Strong historical fantasy with Asian and Chinese influences
And so here begins my first foray into the Hugo Awards 2019... or well, at all. The Poppy War has been on my to read list since the first ARC's were sent out and so it was with some delight that I realised it was on my reading packet list. New authors promptly got shunted...
Beautifully written, imaginative and poignant military fantasy
The Poppy War starts as a witty, whimsical story of a young girl struggling to follow her dream. It ends as a brutal tale of war, nationalism, hatred and revenge. RF Kuang builds a compelling world, drawing on a dark period of Chinese history. There is enough...