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?
“I am the end and the beginning. The world is a painting and I hold the brush. I am a god.”The Burning God, R.F. Kuang
The Burning God is a grand, epic yet very depressing conclusion to a great fantasy series, and while I enjoyed it immensely and deeply cared for how the entire thing would turn out, it just fell a little bit short for me compared to its predecessors. But it’s still a great last book!
Things quickly started off from where it left at The Dragon Republic. It was another brutal tale of an ongoing destructive war that was ravaging the entire country and its citizens. The battle scenes were just as amazing and horrid as the previous books, but it slightly upped the notch because more elements were given the chance to participate, and the consequences were much more drastic. I especially enjoyed how much the aftermath of the continuous wars were being projected into this book constantly, and all of it affects not just our main characters, but also the different parties of people involved. The intricate logistics of dealing with what happens after a war was more evident in this book, and the internal struggles of everyone were really nicely laid out to give more important emphasis on the matter. It was really devastating to see the amount of waste and desperation that the book had ongoing on, but it just created a very well-rounded atmosphere that perfectly matched the book and its intention.
There was a little bit more expansive world-building that came into play, as the readers could get to see more of Nikan, but it was also not as much as I want to – which I totally get, because it was more focused on the things that were happening in the general area. It also showcased more the technology that the Hesperians used, and the might of the gods and shamans, creating a very epic battle of the two opposing forces. Although, I would have liked that we get to have the mythology expounded even more, especially since new ideas were introduced, I guess it did satisfy what the book wanted to achieve.
This series is just full of very flawed but well-written characters. Rin, especially, was someone who was both beaten down and raised above her station throughout the entire series. She is so flawed and damaged that you can’t help but root for her and hate her at the same time. The urge to strangle her and yell at her for all the bad, hasty decisions she had been making was much more stronger in this book compared to the previous ones. The conflicts that were going on through her head was hard to stomach, but it was pulling from a reasonable explanation to how her character is. The character work done to all major personalities is impeccable, but Rin’s was just both phenomenal and vengeful.
I really liked the way this book ended, because it had left another very wide and open problem when it just ended the previous one. I always enjoy a great open-ended ending because it leaves the readers to think more, and imagine all the possibilities that could happen from that point onwards. However, what I did not like in that ending was that a character got a huge redemption arc. I enjoy a good redemption arc from time to time in my stories, but this one just didn’t fit exactly in the right way for me. In my opinion, it just defeated the whole purpose of the character’s beliefs. I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but I would understand why people would enjoy it.
Over-all, this series has been a great but very emotional ride. This isn’t a book that should be picked up because of the hype surrounding it (which it clearly deserves), but it should be taken in with a grain of salt and deep understanding to what it represents in the real world. It is a very brutal, dark, bloody, and carnal series that will leave you both depressed and disgusted for days, but it will also make you think really hard.
It’s definitely part of one of my favorite series that I’ve read this year.
Over-all series rating: 4.5/5 stars
“It’s so much harder to stay alive. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to live. It means you’re brave.“The Burning God, R.F. Kuang
About The Author
Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and the Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award nominated author of the Poppy War trilogy. She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford; she is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale.