My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Review: The Burning God

The Burning God The Burning God by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This the third book of a series (The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic). I got the first as an e-book and the second as an audio-book from my local library. I recommend reading these in order (although you can just read the last one which is the better of the three).

This story is a fantastic re-imaging of Chinese history from around the time of the Sino-Japanese War (Book 1) onward. It was pretty fun trying to match up parts of the book with what little I know of the real history. That alone made this a good read ... and the unique system of magic made it even better.

Rin, the avatar of the Burning Phoenix god, is back in the south to take care of business if only the flaming warlords/bureaucrats would let her. With the Republic fighting to consolidate in the North with the help of the foreign Hesperians (Euros), now seems like the best time for the Southern Coalition to wrest control from the remnants of the failed Muganese invasion and secure their own position. The problem is ... the warlords are right. Rin is a stubborn, privileged (I am Sinegard trained you moron) idiot unwilling to actually use her own experts until they beat her about the head and shoulders with her mistakes (and she has made enough of them that she should realize some of the people in the room are actually smarter than she is). Yeah ... as much as I want to like the MC ... I don't. At least that is how I felt for the first half of the book and we get back to the action (bring back some old 'friends'). It seems like Rin is just not enough to carry the story; and when it primarily focuses on her I quickly lose interest. Frankly I am almost more sympathetic to the anti-hero 'Trifecta' (well 2 of the 3 at any rate) than Rin and her side kick.

There is a good story here, but it is almost exclusively in the second half of the book when things really start happening quickly. Rin is in control and actually seems competent now (fewer strategic mistakes). Her army, once on the brink of extinction, now stands on its own and starts to gain momentum. The end is so close you can feel it rushing toward you ... then you need to brace yourself; because the story drones on after that ... and the self-flagellation continues for awhile longer. From the very beginning, it was clear how this would end ... it just take longer than it should to get there.

I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheBurningGod #NetGalley

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.