Join a book club that is reading The Poppy War: A Novel (The Poppy War, 1)!

Velaris BookClub

Welcome to the Velaris Book Club, where the realms of fantasy and the allure of romance intertwine to create an enchanting literary experience like no other. If you've ever found yourself lost in the pages of magical worlds, captivated by epic love stories, and yearning for more, then you've come to the right place!

We are a new book Club in Glasgow and are looking for members to meet monthly in person at a cozy pub or cafe to discuss our fantasy Romance book of the month!

The Poppy War: A Novel (The Poppy War, 1)


"I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year [...] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang's] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin." -- Booknest

A Library Journal, Paste Magazine, Vulture, BookBub, and ENTROPY Best Books pick!

Washington Post "5 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel" pick!

A Bustle "30 Best Fiction Books" pick!

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China's twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu's Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju--the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies--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 believed they'd finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. 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. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers 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 a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive--and that mastering control over those 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 militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin's shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

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544 pages

Average rating: 7.73




Community Reviews

Jun 30, 2024
7/10 stars
Fantasy based on japans invasion of china in ww2 - interesting characters and a part of history that I didn’t know much about. Will definitely read the rest of the series. ** CW sexual assault, drugs, child abuse **
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Apr 20, 2024
8/10 stars
This is one very powerful book.

On many levels: the world is detailed, the mythology is complex, the writing style is beautiful, the charactered are vivid. But the most powerful thing about this powerful book is the story - because this book is about war. Though, it's probably kind of obvious from the title, duh.

Having read 25%, I went to see who the author was. She appeared to be a 20 years old student, a Chinese native living in US. She wrote her thesis on Sino-Japanese war - something, I must admit, I've never heard about before. The most tragic event of that war was a so-called Rape of Nanjin, when Japanese soldiers brutally killed basically the entire population of a city called Nanjin. Official documents say, up to three hundred thousand - no, I'll write it with all the zeroes - 300 000 people. Men, women, children, all.

Yes, all of it is in the book. In detail. Murder, torture, rape, everything.

It's incredibly difficult to read. It's a rather small part of the book, though. One chapter is about the massacre, and couple more things are mentioned elsewhere. But the horror of what happened is so immense, you can't forget it. And by the way, don't get too attached to the characters - here we have a "Game of Thrones" kind of situation on our hands, if you know what I mean.

Thus, 4 stars. Don't get me wrong - the book is great. But a 5-star book is "OMG everyone, go read it now", and I honestly cannot recommend The Poppy War to just anyone - because of all the trigger warnings. It's a decision everyone should make for themselves. All I can say is that I will ABSOLUTELY read the next two books in the series.
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Mar 13, 2024
8/10 stars
I enjoyed the story, although at times it was too graphic for me.  I would definitetly recommend folks check trigger warnings.  Well worth the read, I will be reading the next one.
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Feb 08, 2024
7/10 stars
First half was pretty slow but it started to good after chapter 13 or so.
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Dec 07, 2023
8/10 stars
Shortly after finishing this book I heard the Alicia Keys song "Girl on Fire" and couldn't help but relate it to this book. That song by itself is a little too sweet, to sum up the entire book you would have to add Drowning Pool's "Bodies" to encompass the range of this book. For those who enjoyed this book I think they would also like [b:Red Sister|25895524|Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1)|Mark Lawrence||45777900] by [a:Mark Lawrence|4721536|Mark Lawrence|].
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