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The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang

The basics

Title: The Dragon Republic

Author:

Series: The Poppy War #2

- The Poppy War (2018)
- The Dragon Republic (2019)
- The Burning God (2020)

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Goodreads Summary:

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

Here is a spoiler summary of what happened in The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang to help refresh your memory before you read the sequel, The Burning God.

What happened in The Dragon Republic?

  • Rin and her Cike crew are now working with Moag, a pirate queen. Rin and the Cike have to set out to kill Yuanfu, the thirtieth name on Moag’s list, in order for Moag to give them weapons to kill the Empress.
  • The crew are about to kill Yuanfu, but then the Empress shows up and Rin loses control. She gets knocked out and taken back to the ship. She burns Unegen, so he stays behind with Enki.
  • Rin goes to see Moag, who wants her to take down a ship for her. Rin agrees to do it in exchange for a small ship, but she also wants Kitay’s location. Moag gives it to her.
  • Rin goes to see Kitay, who is not happy to see her and is clearly suffering from PTSD from what happened in Golyn Niis.
  • Rin and the Cike set out to take down the ship, but instead they’re captured by NEZHA WHO IS STILL ALIVE PRAISE THE LAWD.
  • Nezha is now scarred and it’s really, really sad. He takes Rin to see his father, the Dragon Warlord, who wants to introduce democracy to the Empire and turn it into a Republic. Rin argues at first but then realises she should probably comply with him. He’ll give her money and an army, and she’ll be able to take down the Empress.
  • Vaisra tries to get the southern Warlords on board. They all refuse, including his old tutor Tsolin.
  • Vaisra sends Rin to the Autumn Palace. He sedates her with opium, and the plan is for her to attack Daji there once they’re alone and the opium has warn off. The plan doesn’t go to, well, plan. Daji Seals Rin’s mind so she can’t access the fire. Chaghan gets Rin out of there and they also save Vaisra, who’s fighting with some Warlords (and Jun) and is about to die.
  • The Republic crew head back out through Tsolin’s fleet. Vaisra is severely injured from the fight.
  • Rin tries to summon her fire power but she’s unable to because of Daji’s seal. Chaghan tries to help Rin remove it by entering them both into the spirit world, but Rin comes across Altan in her mind and finds the whole thing very tricky. She’s unable to kill Altan and therefore unable to remove the Seal.
  • Rin bumps into Venka, who basically tells her to get a grip.
  • The southern Warlords start to give in and join the Republic. Tsolin eventually joins in.
  • Nezha spars with Rin to help her get back into shape.
  • The Hesperians arrive, as well as Nezha’s mother. They’re apparently here to observe, and Vaisra is trying to impress them so he can use their man power and their ships. They’ve also got guns.
  • In order to impress them, Rin has to be experimented on once a week by Sister Petra. Petra wants to find the source of Rin’s powers and remove them from her. She thinks they have something to do with Chaos.
  • The Empire poisons the water. This is bad, since the Dragon Republic’s army is situated on canals. Fish and people start dying. The rice paddies are obviously also at risk.
  • Jinzha leads a northern campaign. He wants to find the source of the poison. They run into Niang, who they went to school with. She has been putting Federation poison into pig bladders and sending them downstream. She’s angry. Kitay shoots her with a crossbow.
  • The fleet head further north and take out a few towns. The citizens vote to join the Republic. Jinzha strips Rin of her rank and splits up the Cike.
  • Nezha, Rin, and Kitay drink to bring in the New Year. Rin then comes across frozen bodies, which is disturbing. It looks as though people were fleeing their towns en masse.
  • No one thinks this campaign is a good idea, since winter has well and truly hit now. There are bombs and stuff along the river, which Nezha taps into some DRAGON POWER to stop. It turns out he’s a bit of a shaman too. Rin gives him opium to calm him down. Nezha then doesn’t want to talk to Rin.
  • Eventually they make their way up to the lake. Lake Boyang. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the Empire’s fleet is ready and waiting. Chang En is leading the team. There’s a battle, and Feylen shows up and reveals he’s working for the Empress. He’s clearly quite scared of her.
  • The crew is split up. Rin, Kitay, the twins, and some of the Hesperians are found by the twins’ aunt, the Sorqan Sira. She shows them a vision of what happened back in the day. The northerners confronted the Golden Trio (the Dragon Emperor, Daji, and the Jiang) and the Sorqan Sira’s sister was killed.
  • The Sorqan Sira says she can fix Rin and her fire powers. She performs a ritual, and Rin kills dream!Altan. He leaves a handprint on her abdomen. This ritual still hasn’t worked properly so Kitay becomes Rin’s anchor and they’re bound like the twins. If one of them dies, the other will die too, unless the bond is broken just before death.
  • The Hesperians are given guns by Chaghan’s cousin, Bekter. They start shooting and the Sorqan Sira is killed. Bekter and his men will be telling everyone that Rin did it. Qara is also shot, so the twins break their bond.
  • Kitay and Rin head south while Chaghan heads north to his people. Along the way, Rin practises her fire powers. She gets quite good.
  • They arrive back in Arlong and everyone is pleased to see them. Nezha describes his dragon issues to Rin.
  • Jinzha was killed in the lake battle and he was cooked into dumplings and presented to Vaisra. Honestly one of the most disturbing parts of the series so far.
  • There are a bunch of refugees outside the city walls now. They’ve been fleeing from everywhere. Rin goes looking for her old tutor but bumps into her aunt and step brother instead. Rin is unhappy with the way these people are being treated but she can’t really do anything about it.
  • The Empire’s fleet starts making its way south. Or, well, it already started and it’s now getting much closer. Nezha heads to Shayang with his ships.
  • Tsolin joins the Empire. He sends a letter to Vaisra basically saying he’s wrong about everything.
  • Kesegi, Rin’s step brother, brings Rin to the Warlords. They want her to join them as they flee. They don’t trust Vaisra’s campaign any more. Rin refuses. As she’s leaving, she spots a Hesperian soldier raping a young girl. She kills the soldier and throws his body in the canal.
  • Kitay makes Rin some wings, which are powers by heat from her fire powers. So now she can fly, which is pretty cool.
  • Rin writes to Moag and tells her that Vaisra plans on double crossing her. Hopefully this will get Rin into Moag’s good books if things go sour here.
  • The Imperial Navy arrives. There’s a massive battle. Rin takes out Feylen by burying him under rocks from the mountain. Nezha saves Rin by using his dragon powers. Rin gets him to safety. Rin battles Daji, and is kind of forced to let her go. Daji shows Rin that the Hesperians are forking dangerous, and that the Federation were only a threat because they had a crazy ruler who listened to the whisperings of the Hesperians. Well, crap.

How did The Dragon Republic end?

  • Rin, Venka, Nezha, and Kitay drink to their victory. Rin is then DOUBLE CROSSED AND CAPTURED WHAT by Nezha. Cries. This is where I broke.
  • Rin is chained up by Vaisra and the Hesperians. They plan to take Rin with them when they leave. Nezha’s mother is convinced that the Hesperians will fix Nezha and stop the dragon powers from manifesting. Rin tells the Hesperians about Nezha but they don’t seem to listen.
  • Two of the Cike are killed for being shamans. WAH.
  • Kitay breaks Rin out, Mission Impossible style. They head to a boat. Ramsa sacrifices himself to buy them some time. Venka is there and is helping out. Nezha stands at the pier and lets them go. CRIES. Venka shoots at him for being a dick.
  • The ship is one of Moag’s. She came to their rescue right on time.
  • Rin plans on leading the south to war.

That’s what happened in The Dragon Republic! Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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