The Burning God by R.F Kuang is the final book in the trilogy that started with The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic. In this book, Rin has escaped to the southern provinces to try and defeat multiple armies at various times to try and protect her people. She goes through extreme ups and downs and has to decide how she wants to move beyond war and her god’s instinct to burn everything and actually help her people.
Goodreads Summary in case you dont trust me
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?
First, throughout the trilogy I have loved the combination of a fantasy book based on historical fact as it seemed just close enough to “reality” that maybe just maybe it could actually happen somewhere. Yes there are the elements of shamanism and gods and other pieces that as far as I know dont exist here on earth (the truth is out there) but they never seem out of place.
Second, while it would have been a happier ending to win a final battle or close after Rin does most of what she wanted to accomplish, I appreciate Ms. Kuang going into the challenges of actually trying to put the pieces back together and the reality of the situation. This added to the reality of the book that I liked so much.
Finally, the people. While this was about the main character more than many books I read which are about groups (and I can always use more shit talking between characters), the way the different provinces and cultures are described is excellent. It adds to the real feeling of the world and it is fascinating to see the little differences between groups that we have been told are basically all the same throughout the trilogy.
Bonus, I really liked how Rin would almost seem invincible and I would start to wonder what will happen after she wins, and then the other side would trap her or do something clever and I was right back in the strategy and battles.
Nothing major really. Occasionally I wanted something different to happen or things seemed particularly dark/brutal/harsh but that was part of what made the journey and world seem so real. Also there were time where the pacing didnt quite make sense in terms of lots of traveling and then what seemed like a pretty quick action or point to the traveling, but the in between times were not boring at all and in fact had a lot of the detail that made the book so real.
If you can handle some harshness/brutality (the most brutal parts are not random or made up, but based on events in the 1900s in China) this trilogy is quite good and well worth your time.